Originally published by Hays Canada.
Every day, many people around the world make the brave and exciting decision to leave their current employer in pursuit of a new challenge. It’s an inevitable part of the world of work. However, despite this, hiring managers are often left in a state of shock or even panic when a member of their team hands in their notice unexpectedly.
So, as a hiring manager, what can you do to preempt this feeling and plan accordingly? From my experience, there are a number of signs that could indicate a member of your team may be looking elsewhere. I’ve outlined a few of these below.
While these signs may not mean much in isolation, I would say a combination of these behaviors is a strong indicator that a member of your staff is about to jump ship, and it’s time to start preparing.
1. They’re using their personal phone more often
If your employee is frequently disappearing outside to speak on their personal phone, or they seem to be using it more often than usual during work hours, I would class this as one of the signs that they may be speaking to a recruiter or hiring manager. However, I do urge you not to jump to conclusions here – there may be something happening in their personal lives, which requires them to use their phone more. Just keep an eye on how often this happens, especially if it is affecting how productive they are.
This brings me onto my next point…
2. Their performance has slipped
Sometimes when an employee can see an end in sight, they tend to clock off mentally, which will inevitably impact their performance and productivity. This will be evident in their level of involvement during meetings, and whether they seem to be paying less attention or contributing fewer ideas than before. You should also keep an eye on the quality and output of work they are producing.
3. Their attendance has dropped
Is your employee starting to get into the habit of leaving early or turning up late? Are they requesting random days off in the middle of the week at short notice? This is a common clue that they’re going to interviews.
4. They are acting non-committal
If this member of the team won’t commit to future projects or stays quiet during conversations surrounding these, I would suggest that this is because they know they won’t be there to see them through.
5. They are turning up to work looking smarter than usual
Your employee may be arriving to work dressed more formally than usual. If this is the case, then they may well have had an interview that morning, or will have one lined up for their lunch break or after work. This is more than likely to be the case if they normally turn up looking fairly casual.
6. They are more active on LinkedIn
Have you noticed this team member updating their profile, getting involved in more conversations, connecting with more people, and even asking for recommendations on LinkedIn? If so, chances are they are using LinkedIn as part of their job searching process. It’s just a shame that they don’t know how to keep their activity hidden from your news feed.
7. They are distancing themselves
If this employee is acting more distant, whether it’s avoiding work social occasions, or simply making less conversation with colleagues, then this could be an indication that they’re starting to disengage with the team, and almost starting to prepare to leave mentally. Again, this could be put down to their personal matters, so always check that everything is OK with this individual before you presume that their behavior is work related.
8. They recently asked for something (and didn’t get it)
Whether it’s a pay rise, promotion, or training course, this employee, for whatever reason, may have just been refused one of their requests. This may have left a bitter taste in their mouth, and prompted them to look elsewhere. If any of the above behaviors follow a situation where they asked for something and didn’t get it, I would say it’s safe to consider that this employee may be looking to leave.
Don’t jump to conclusions
Remember that the above signs are an indication that this employee is simply unhappy. You may just need to check in with them to get the full story and find out if there is anything you can do to help. If this conversation doesn’t provide any explanation as to why this employee is acting differently, and you still believe they are looking elsewhere, start to brace yourself practically (and emotionally) for the moment that resignation letter lands on your desk.
If this employee does decide to explore pastures new, check out this recent Workopolis post on what to do when an employee quits.
Rowan O’Grady is the president of Hays Canada.