10 Signs Your Best Employee May be Planning Their Exit

The true cost of employee turnover is different for every company. Some legitimate sources say when a well trained employee leaves, it can cost the company anywhere from 16 – 213% of that employee’s salary!

Definitely not chicken feed, and there are a number of related expenses that add to the overall cost of losing a key player on your team:

  • The company loses the financial and time investments from training that employee.
  • The company loses the value of any incentives paid out to that employee including healthcare, relocation expenses, 401k, bonuses, etc.
  • The company has to spend money to recruit and train a new employee (and remember, not all new hires will work out).
  • The company loses productivity when training the new hire(s) because senior staff and management have to give them more of their focus.
  • The company may lose untold sales and potential existing customers due to reduced lead-gen and poorer service levels.

There’s plenty more depending on what business you’re in. When it’s your best and brightest who’re considering leaving, this can put a huge strain on businesses — even more so for seasonal outfits.

Following are 1o signs your best employee might be leaving:

1. They’ve stopped voicing their opinion…

Some employees just come to work, do their job, then go home with little to say to anyone. When an employee that was once vocal about things they don’t like about the job or company stop voicing those opinions, they might have decided talking isn’t getting them anywhere and have decided to look for their dream job elsewhere.

signs an employee might be ready to quit

2. They’ve stopped being punctual.

When an employee who used to be on time for work and meetings starts to slide, this is almost always a sign of trouble. Be it problems at home, drug abuse, or that they’re looking for another job, that employee is essentially saying they don’t care what you or others in the office think of them — a sure sign they’ll be leaving sooner rather than later.

3. They’ve started to receive a lot of complaints from coworkers and/or clients.

They were once your best and brightest. Nobody had anything bad to say about them, and clients practically refused to deal with anyone but that person because of how well they did their job and made people feel. Now, most of what you hear is negative feedback and their fate in the company seems on an irrevocable downward trajectory.

4. They’ve been acting distracted a lot lately.

Not a definite sign. After all, life gets in the way of work sometimes. However, a normally superstar-level employee, who’s always laser-focused, which you now find to be staring off into space all the time and not completing their work as they once did should be scrutinised carefully.

5. They’ve been getting the job done but could care less about long term work talk and planning.

Just as someone who has stopped caring will suddenly stop voicing their opinions as they once did, someone who has their sights set on another job won’t be able to hide the fact they’ve lost interest. It takes a special person to hide their disdain or lack of enthusiasm once their mind is made up.

6. They’ve suddenly started taking phone calls and/or breaks in private.

This could mean trouble in their personal life, too. However, if one is receiving phone calls from headhunters and recruiters, they aren’t going to sit at their desk while trying to sell themselves, are they? They’ll jump outside to ensure privacy. As with the others on this list, such behavior is most suspect when a star employee starts doing this out of the blue — some will do this from day one simply because they naturally value their privacy more than others.

signs your employee is leaving
Image Credit: Michael Summers/Flickr

7. They’ve started to talk about entrepreneurship a lot.

People who don’t want to work for someone else are a growing breed. With so much talk about the future of regular 9 – 5 J.O.B.s and the fact that many won’t exist some day soon, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Uncertain times call for extreme measures. If it once seemed like they were set on a course to retire with the company, but now all they talk about is building a business of their own, it’s very likely you’ll be getting a notice from them in the near future.

8. They’ve stopped offering new ideas.

The best employees are the ones who have lots of creativity to lend the company about innovation and improvements. When they suddenly have nothing to offer, even when prompted, it’s a darned good sign they have their creativity directed toward a new job or career.

9. They’ve stopped getting excited about bonuses and other perks.

Everyone who works for someone else enjoys being rewarded by their employer. If your star salesperson doesn’t get excited when you tell them the winner of the next company sales competition gets a free week in Vegas at the end of the summer, it’s quite possible they don’t plan to be with the company by that time.

10. They’ve started telling you if thing don’t change they’ll leave.

Not only is this a warning sign, it’s one of the few warning signs that give a manager a chance to act before it’s too late. There’s always something you can do, at least in the short term, to give stellar employees what they need to feel good about their job before they defect from the company. If all you can offer is a “No” whenever someone asks for reasonable changes to their position, or for the compensation they deserve for doing better-than-average, then be prepared to lose a lot of employees in the coming years!

Have you ever lost an employee after experiencing one of the warning signs listed?

Share your story in the comments. If you’ve identified other sure-fire warning signs as a manager and/or entrepreneur, please do share.

Main Image Credit: Rocketace/Flickr