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7 Signs an Employee is About to Quit

Signs an Employee is About to Quit

Sometimes employees mentally “check out” of their job before handing in an actual resignation. In this case, you want to be as prepared as possible for whatever waits around the corner. 

You don’t want to lose a reliable employee due to workplace dissatisfaction. Not only can it create stress in the aftermath, but it can discourage other workers as well. Employee satisfaction also relates directly to your company’s bottom line. According to Forbes, companies with high worker satisfaction outperform their unhappier competitors by 202%

There are several reasons why employees suddenly quit their jobs. It could be the company, compensation, or management, for example. However, an employee might be planning to quit for reasons outside of your control. They may have the desire to pursue another profession, seek a job that offers more perks, or even because they want to start their own business. 

It is important to recognize the signs an employee is about to exit the company. By identifying these signs, you have an opportunity to increase employee satisfaction and encourage the employee to stay. You also should be able to observe the clues so that you can prepare yourself and your staff for an employee departure. Losing an employee is bad but it is worse if you are not prepared 

If you have a team and are wondering if one or more of your team members has one foot out of the door, here are 7 signs that will let you know.

1. Attitude Changes

One of the earliest signs that an employee is losing interest in their work is a change of attitude. If your employee is usually energetic and motivated at work, but starts coming in lethargic, moody, or seems not to care anymore, that’s something to take notice of. Sometimes there are personal reasons for shifts in attitude at work, but it’s wise to keep an eye on it in case it doesn’t fade away.

Workplace dissatisfaction is at a cultural all-time high for Americans, with 50% of employees describing their jobs as stressful on a daily basis. This may be the culprit of their shift in attitude, in which case you should talk about workplace expectations and what you can do to help get them back on track. Understanding why your employee is disengaged can prevent sudden resignations.

2. Taking More Time Off

If an employee repeatedly requests time off for personal reasons, pay attention. Employees going through stressful events in their personal lives or dealing with other issues such as mental illness or lifestyle changes may need more time away from work to properly recalibrate and adjust. 

If you push back every time they need time off, you could inadvertently be adding more stress, which will push them away. Instead, allow them to take all the time they need (within reason) so they can return feeling refreshed and ready to work.

Sometimes, before an employee fully commits to leaving their job, they’ll try to take advantage of as much of their paid time off (PTO) as possible before it’s no longer available. They may also start calling in sick more frequently or giving away shifts to their coworkers. If this seems to become a habit, it might indicate they’re planning to quit.

3. Performance Declines

When an employee is looking to quit, they may loosen up around the workplace and start to slack off. If an employee repeatedly misses deadlines or delivers lower-quality work, it can be an indicator that they’re distracted or disinterested. Keep good employee records in order to keep track of your employee’s performance. If you notice a drop-off

If you neglect to reward your hard-working employees for their successes, you might also be pushing them away. 66% of employees say they would leave a job if they felt unappreciated at work. You should be just as ready to reward them for good work as you are ready to discuss their setbacks.

4. Lack of Interest in Future Projects

Happy employees are passionate about their work and feel invested in company projects and goals. When an employee is planning to quit, they can sometimes detach from company objectives and plans. This can manifest as seeming distracted during meetings or experiencing a lack of urgency at work.

Additionally, a lack of growth opportunities might be the culprit for a lack of interest in their work. Most employees strive to grow with their company, and their efforts to succeed deserve to be rewarded. If they feel neglected or discouraged from success, they might stop trying altogether and start seeking a different job.

5. Treatment of Customers

When an employee is about to quit, their frustration with work might be reflected in how they treat company customers. Sometimes it’s more obvious, for example, if an employee is unusually short-tempered or impatient with fussy customers or workplace mistakes. Or perhaps a client has to reach out to you because they are unable to reach your employee. 

However, it can also be more covert. If an employee responds curtly to customers or seems indifferent to their experience, that’s definitely a red flag. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. This would create a great opportunity to communicate privately with your employee and find out what the behavioral changes are all about before it hurts your business. 

6. Leaving Early & Arriving Late

When an employee wants to quit, they may express a tendency to clock in late and leave work early. Chances are, this behavior is happening because the employee is unhappy at work and wants to spend as little time there as possible, despite what they might be scheduled to work. This can create a negative attendance habit fast.

If you notice your employee rushing out the door and coming in late often, it’s important to discuss this behavior with them as soon as possible. This is a habit that can be hard to break if left unchecked. In the best-case scenario, you might discover what’s got them so eager to leave.

7. Expressing Unhappiness

Sometimes employees feel pushed to leave their otherwise rewarding job due to the troubled workplace culture. If you notice drama brewing between coworkers or recurring disagreements at work, it might be the cause of some dissatisfaction.

Some employees may vocally express frustration with their job by venting or complaining from time to time. Although this is sometimes just a way to let off steam, it can also be an indicator of underlying unhappiness with their job.



The important takeaway is that if your employee is showing signs they might have plans to leave, there’s still time to do something about it. Noticing the early signs can create opportunities to make it right and retain a loyal employee. 

As we mentioned earlier, sometimes there is nothing you can do about an employee that is about to quit. And sometimes, it has nothing to do with you, your company, or the position. However, even if an employee is unhappy right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t inspire them to stay.


Ari Bratsis
Team Writer: Ari is a writer, blogger and small business owner based in Washington state.

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Team Writer: Ari is a writer, blogger and small business owner based in Washington state.

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