Ten Signs an Employee Is About to Quit
All relate to disengagement from work, study reveals
Those who are thinking about leaving their job may be giving off cues that others can detect, even if the would-be quitters think they are keeping their plans secret.
Tim Gardner, a Utah State University associate professor at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, and two colleagues completed a study on voluntary turnover with findings that may surprise those who think they can easily identify an employee who is about to jump ship.
Gardner said he was surprised when his research showed, for example, that an employee who starts taking more vacation time, punching out at 5 p.m. every day, and looking at outside openings on company time, isn’t necessarily someone who is about to leave.
He discovered, however, that one thing most employees have in common before they left was that they begin to “disengage” in the workplace. Here are a few examples of subtle but consistent behavioral changes people often make in the one to two months before they leave their job:
- They offer fewer constructive contributions in meetings.
- They are more reluctant to commit to long-term projects.
- They become more reserved and quiet.
- They become less interested professional advancement.
- They are less interested in pleasing their boss.
- They avoid social interactions with their boss and other members of management.
- They suggest fewer new ideas or innovative approaches.
- They begin doing the minimum amount of work needed and no longer go beyond the call of duty.
- They are less interested in participating in training and development programs.
- Their productivity decreases.
Gardner says that if employees are demonstrating at least six of these behaviors, his statistical formula could predict with 80% accuracy that they were about to leave the organization.
He also noted that a lot of “doctor’s appointments,” showing up to work in a suit, or leaving a resume on the printer were the kind of signs that didn’t make the list.
Gardner says that this information might help managers find ways to keep their top performers on board. But he also notes the “dark side” of his research was that some employers may opt to let people go if they thought they were going to leave anyway: particularly since research has shown that people who are contemplating a job change are more likely to share company secrets or do things to sabotage the organization’s goals.
For more information about the study, contact Steve Eaton at Utah State: 435.797.8640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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