Every employer knows that recruiting the best and brightest is tough. What’s even tougher is having to replace them. One of the best ways to retain employees is by recognizing early warning signs. If you can mitigate problems and pain points before they worsen, you can keep (most) employees from looking for an exit strategy.
Here are five warning signs to pay close attention to:
If a top performer starts delegating their responsibilities to colleagues, or declines to take on new projects and assignments, it could be a sign that they don’t see themselves hanging around long enough to finish those projects and assignments. There’s a chance they legitimately felt it was a good opportunity for another team member, but there’s also a chance they’re starting to “check out.”
An employee who is normally engaged with the team and suddenly starts backing out of team lunches, stops participating in conversations and contributing ideas during meetings may have a lot on their mind. It could be something in their personal life, but it could also mean they are weighing decisions that include not being a part of your organization. Many times, a soon-to-churn employee will distance themselves from work relationships before giving official notice.
3. Time off
Everyone takes time off. We all go on vacation, we all have dentist appointments, and from time to time, we take personal days. But if you have an employee taking a lot of personal and vacation days, going to the doctor, the dentist, the chiropractor, and letting you know repeatedly that they’ll “be in late tomorrow” with a vague explanation, they may be interviewing with another company.
When the performance metrics of an otherwise strong employee drop, pay close attention. A drop in sales quotas, deadlines, work quality, customer satisfaction ratings, etc. can serve as warning sign. An employee who seems less concerned about their numbers going down may be actively hunting for a new job, or at least thinking about it. Keep an eye on these metrics and other employee and team goals. You can get closer to the root of the problem if you have a conversation right away.
Pay attention to those employees who were always positive and ambitious about their work; if they suddenly don’t care what happens long-term, start turning in sloppy work, or complaining about things they dislike, they may be convincing themselves to leave.
These signs don’t necessarily mean you’ve already lost someone, but they can indicate that someone is looking for greener pastures. You may want to acknowledge that they seem distracted, and ask if everything is okay. Offer to listen or help if you can. It is up to you to decide if addressing their grievances is mutually advantageous. We don’t want to lose our top performers, but we also don’t want them to remain against their will.