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Losing a vital employee can be costly. But, if you can spot the warning signs that a valued employee is looking for another job, you may be able to take steps to prevent their departure. You can’t demand that an employee stays with you, and you shouldn’t call them out because you suspect that they may be thinking about leaving. You may, though, be able to improve the employee’s situation at work so that they reconsider their decision to move on. Here are ten signs that one of your employees is about to quit their job.

1. An Increase in the Number of Private Calls

When people are looking for a new job, they will start to receive calls from prospective employers. An employee won’t want you to know that they are thinking of quitting, though, so they will make excuses so that they can take the calls in private.

2. A Drop in Productivity

An employee who is ready to quit their job is likely to lose their enthusiasm for their current role. So, if you see a sudden drop in the productivity of a star employee, it could be a sign that they are looking for another job. Once an employee has decided to make a career change, they are likely to be going through the motions at work, but not showing any initiative or enthusiasm.

3. An Increase in Delegation

An employee who is about to quit may be reluctant to take on any long-term projects. Employees who are about to leave their job are more likely to delegate work or suggest that long-term projects be taken on by other employees.

4. Requests for Time Off Work

Of course, if an employee is job-hunting, they will need to attend interviews. The first sign that an employee is about to quit might be that they are taking more time off work. The time off work that an employee uses to look for a new job will usually take the form of extended lunch breaks or leaving work an hour or two early.

5. A Sudden Change in Appearance

If an employee suddenly smartens up their act and starts wearing suits to work, that could be a sign that they are dressing to impress. The wearing of smarter clothes to work would be especially relevant if the wearing of unusually smart attire coincided with the employee taking time off work.

6. A Defensive Attitude

If a trusted and long-term employee is about to quit, they may feel guilty about their decision and become quite defensive in their attitude at work. They will be concerned that you might learn of their intentions before they are ready, so they may try too hard to explain their increased number of personal calls and their absences from work.

7. An Increase in Complaining

An employee who is about to leave their job is likely to begin to make more complaints. The cause of the increase in the complaints raised by an employee might be a result of the individual’s dissatisfaction with the job, or the person may feel more willing to complain because they know that they will not be staying with the company for much longer.

8. Friction in the Workplace

You may also notice an increase in disputes in the workplace if an employee is about to leave you. The increased bad-will between co-workers could be the cause of the employee’s decision to quit, or it could be an indication that the employee no longer feels the need to keep the peace.

9. Other Employees Have Recently Quit

When one employee quits, you may find that you have a mass exodus on your hands. If one employee finds a better job, it will encourage other employees to consider their options. You may also find that one employee may follow another in quitting if the two were close friends.

10. The Employee is Not Happy at Work

If an employee who is usually happy and positive at work becomes subdued and isolates themselves, there must be something wrong. There could be personal reasons why the person is not themselves, but as a caring employer, you should do your best to find out what is behind the change in mood. If you value the employee and the cause of the shift in attitude is dissatisfaction with their role, then you will need to make some changes if you want to retain that employee.


The above points are not conclusive evidence that you are about to lose a valued employee. Even so, if you do spot any of the above signs, it might be wise to take steps to improve the situation of the employee. You may not want to prevent an employee from leaving. But, if you know that a key employee is about to quit, at least you can take steps to mitigate the effect of a valuable employee’s departure.

Robert Lehrer

[email protected]

CA License #0549514