Tell-Tale Signs Your Best Employee is About to Quit

The median number of years that an employee works in an organization is 4.1 years. It is also estimated that most people will switch jobs 12 times in their life time. So, losing your best employees to the competitor is not only a loss, but a reality.

There may be a need to identify underlying issues if the employee is about to quit because of dissatisfaction with the job or any issues that can be resolved. At times the job is not fulfilling the employee’s needs. These needs may be physiological like wage and benefits, safety needs like being safe from harassment, or further go on to their self-actualization needs like alignment with the person’s personal goals.

If employers were mind readers, knowing why an employee is thinking of quitting may help in offering the employee what they need, thus retaining the best talent. However, since it is not possible, there are always some signs which indicate when an employee is about to quit.

Why do Employees Quit?

Employees quit jobs because of a multitude of reasons or a combination of many. For a company, the loss of a talented employee can cause the company to lose some part of its competitive advantage.

Replacing an employee is also costly as the hiring process and the training period take up at least a year of an experienced and talented employee’s salary. However, these costs are unavoidable if the employee is ready to leave and so, their employee lifetime value has been extracted fully.

Some of the major issues because which employees quit are:

·         Compensation

·         They were passed over for a raise or a promotion

·         There have been major changes in the employee’s life

·         The employee feels as though they have been treated unfairly

·         Workload

·         Employee is not being challenged enough

5 Signs Your Best Employee is About to Quit

When a good employee quits, they leave more than just a vacant position. They are leaving with the tacit knowledge they have gained during their work experience, the knowledge gained through training, and their network. A new employee will take some time to reach the level that the previously experienced employee was at alongside investment in training them for the job.

There is also a risk of a wrong hire which further increases the cost of replacing a good employee. However, if you know your employee is about to quit, you can probably resolve the issues they have if possible, or ask them to train the new employee.

There are some tell-tale signs when an employee is about to quit, apart from an obvious gut feeling.

1. Productivity Decreases

While there may be dips in performance at times; after, employee productivity cannot be 100% at all times. However, when a worker is about to quit, worker productivity decreases more than usual. They do the bare minimum required and exhibit no or little focus on the matters of the job.

If a person works in a collective team, they often do not act as a team player. Therefore, their colleagues are often quick to point out if their productivity in a team is decreasing and they lack the motivation to perform the job tasks.

2. Employee’s PTO Utilization Increases

When an employee begins to take more time off from the job, you should take it as a sign that they are about to quit. Maybe they are taking days off to prepare and give interviews at other places. They also often leave work earlier than usual, or if they used to put in additional hours, stop doing so. This, in combination with a clear loss of enthusiasm to work, is a clear sign that the employee is looking to quit.

3. Notable Changes in Attitude

A negative change in the person’s attitude signifies their dissatisfaction with the job. It is also possible that they start expressing a greater dissatisfaction with the job or/ and their supervisor. When this happens, it is probably because the employee is expecting something better at the new job.

The change in attitude may also include making up excuses for doing the bare minimum in the role. They may be sharing major life changes because of which they are dissatisfied with their job.

4. Employee is Unwilling to Commit to Long-term Projects

A sure-shot way of assessing an employee’s long-term commitment is to ask about their plans for future workplace initiatives or events. For example, they may avoid talking about upcoming workplace events or initiatives if they are not willing to stick around for that long. They might also not commit to projects that will go for more than a few months.

5. Unsatisfactory Responses to Inquiry about Issues

If the manager wants to gauge the reason for the loss in productivity or enthusiasm, an employee who is not planning to stick around will not give satisfactory responses. They may not discuss a lot because they have mentally shut down and moved on mentally.

This means that they are not willing to resolve the issues because of which they might have decided to switch their job, therefore not willing to discuss or face their boss asking these questions.

What to do if there are Obvious Signs?

 If there are obvious signs that an employee is about to quit and is searching for new jobs, it is often too late to intervene. However, a decline in productivity when caught on early can be resolved.

If the employee has been passed over for a promotion or has been demoted, they are highly likely to lose enthusiasm and start looking for new jobs. However, in this case, it is recommended to connect with the employee and exchange honest feedback about why they were passed over for the promotion. This may allow identifying any issues that the employee could resolve and also help identify any concerns they have with the department.

Also, it is recommended to circulate an employee feedback form to gauge the temperature of the work environment and change anything that could be problematic and cause a high turnover. Negative work culture also means that the employer’s brand is declining, making the company unable to attract good talent.

An exit interview that is strategically conducted also reveals a lot of information about why an employee is quitting and what points the employer could address for retaining other employees.


There are often many clear tell-tale signs when an employee is about to quit. If the turnover is high and the quitting is caused by an internal issue, it is a dangerous sign that the employer is losing its competitive advantage in terms of employees.

Clear signs often mean that there is little that can be done to retain the employee. If the initial signs are identified then there are probably more options to address the issues and retain a good employee. An exit interview and a frequent survey regarding the work culture are some tools that can help identify internal issues and address employee concerns to retain and attract the best talent.

Related articles

Recent Posts
Follow us