10 Tell-Tale Signs Your Employee Might Be Planning to Quit: How to Spot and Respond to Workplace Departure Signals

Recognising employee resignation signs or warning signs that an employee is about to quit can be crucial for managers and HR professionals, especially in today’s competitive job market where retaining top talent is more critical than ever. Here’s a detailed look at some of the tell-tale indicators that an employee might be gearing up to leave, peppered with a bit of humor because, let’s face it, sometimes you need to laugh to keep from crying in the world of HR!

1. Decrease in Productivity

If your once star player starts producing work that’s more ‘meh’ than ‘marvelous,’ it might be time to check in. A sudden drop in productivity often signals disengagement, which is a short step away from sending out CVs.

2. Less Involvement in Meetings or Projects

When someone who used to jump at the chance to lead a new project now wouldn’t lead a thirsty horse to water, it could indicate they’re mentally checking out. Reduced participation in discussions and hesitance to take on new responsibilities are common precursors to a resignation.

3. Change in Attitude

A previously enthusiastic employee who turns into Eeyore might be eyeing the exit. Changes in attitude, from disinterest to negativity, can be a significant warning sign that the employee’s days on your team are numbered.

4. Increased Absences

When ‘I need to take a personal day’ becomes as frequent as ‘Good morning,’ start reading between the lines. Frequent absences, especially without clear reasons, could suggest job interviews or disengagement.

5. Caring Less About Long-Term Projects

If someone usually passionate about the future suddenly doesn’t care about the year-end results or the long-term impact of projects, they might not see their future with your company.

6. Social Withdrawal

An employee who starts to withdraw from social interactions at work, skipping lunches, or team outings, might be preparing to leave. This distancing can be a way to reduce the emotional difficulty of an upcoming departure.

7. Professional Upgrades

Notice a sudden flurry of certifications or professional development courses? If these don’t quite align with their current role but might make a shiny addition to a LinkedIn profile, it’s possibly a sign they’re buffing up their resume for something new.

8. Tidy-up Time

A suddenly immaculate workspace or cleared out personal belongings can sometimes mean an employee is preparing to pack up for good. It’s the professional equivalent of not leaving too much clutter for the next tenant.

9. Secret Conversations and Private Calls

If your office feels more like a spy thriller with hushed conversations and frequent, secretive phone calls, your employee might be lining up their next gig.

10. Requesting References

If an employee is suddenly interested in knowing who can vouch for their professional skills or past projects, it’s not because they love reminiscing about the good old days.

How to Respond

If you spot these employee resignation signs, it’s not necessarily the cue to start drafting a farewell card. Instead, consider it a prompt for a frank conversation about the employee’s career goals and satisfaction levels. Sometimes, understanding and addressing their concerns can lead to changes that encourage them to stay. Alternatively, preparing for a smooth transition might just be the wisest course to minimize disruption.

For HR pros and managers, staying proactive is key. Keep your eyes open, and maybe keep a chocolate or two handy—you never know when you might need a little comfort, or a peace offering!