5 signs your employee is quitting
The classic saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies largely to the perennial problem of bosses: employee resignations. In many cases, resignations are handed over when it’s too late for the boss to solve the worker’s issues.
How frequently did you ask about your employees’ well-being? Did you notice any signs of disengagement, boredom, or resistance? Perhaps you could have acted on them earlier on? Or did you just ignore them?
It’s best to act on a problem when you can still solve bits and pieces of it. And this starts with knowing if there is any problem in the first place. Can you tell if an employee is planning to leave for greener pastures soon? Not always, but in many cases, yes, you can.
From my experience, here are 5 signs that can help you tell if it’s time to have a talk with your talent. Remember, just because one sign is there doesn't necessarily mean it's time to raise a red flag.
Use your instincts as a manager and start a good conversation going – if anything, use the opportunity to check on the employee and make sure things are going fine.
1. Being late or absent more frequently
This is a no brainer. Tardiness and absenteeism are the most visible signs of diminishing engagement. There’s severe embarrassment at stake for being labeled as "always late" or "barely there." Even an average employee who can’t contribute much could at least strive for perfect attendance.
When you have an employee who pops into the cube past 10 in the morning (and has the nerve to clock out before dinner time), you have a candidate who just doesn’t care, even if they'll get fired for it. They won’t be sorry, either. And why should they if they're leaving anyway?
2. More quiet in meetings, with little to add to conversations
The biggest threat that any company should watch out for is when its employees choose to silence themselves. Some employees talk a lot in discussions and brainstorms because they love what they do. Some are even perennial askaholics: folks who love asking questions for the sake of asking so that people feel their presence. Something is just wrong when someone who usually contributes to the discussion suddenly becomes quiet. A resignation may soon be on its way.
3. Less visibility in e-mails
There’s an interesting study from Harvard Business Review that shows employees who communicate to a larger network of contacts via e-mail are likely more engaged than those who e-mail fewer folks. These employees maximize their network to get things done because they want these things to get done, and fast.
Do you have an employee who’s allergic to e-mail these days? He's the type that you need to ambush in the cube just to get a response. Fewer e-mails also means less work, and this is a critical sign that this employee is just about to pack his bags and clean out the desk.
4. Always out for long lunch breaks, uses up more vacation leaves
There’s a running joke in my previous company that if you get caught wearing nice clothes on an ordinary work day, then you’re out for a ‘job interview’ on that same day. Jokes are half-meant and I’ve proven this to myself when I ended up in the same situation.
At one point in my career when I wanted to move out, I regularly snuck out during lunch time to do job interviews. I also often asked for half-day leaves when lunch time wasn’t enough. Aside from tardiness and absenteeism, monitor the frequency of breaks your employee takes. If his numbers spike up on a certain month or quarter, he’s probably in hunting season.
5. Very protective of online activities
In today’s times when open-space offices are preferred to cubicles to encourage more employee interaction, privacy becomes a luxury. It becomes harder to take advantage of the company’s free Internet access (to look for a job) when everyone can see your computer screen.
But millennials today will always find ways. They can update their LinkedIn accounts during lunch time when everyone is out (“Go ahead and eat, I have stuff to finish here”). They can buy screen protectors (“People might see sensitive data from my screen”). Or they’ll work in other public areas of the office (“I’m gonna work in this meeting room, so I can concentrate better”).
Of course, you’ll need to consider your own reaction or overreaction too, so take this with a grain of salt. Not all employees who take merienda at the cafeteria with their laptops are off to secretly send their resumes via Gmail.
Act on the signs the moment you see them
Communication is a key pillar in work relationships. In corporate Asia, most of us prefer the silent treatment or “wait-until-gets-worse” approach in resolving interpersonal issues. While this non-confrontational style is relative to culture, it also is sometimes the culprit to another painful feeling: regret. We appreciate people the most when they’re finally gone and there’s nothing you can do about it. So suffer now and take the bull by its horns so you don’t face bigger consequences later on. – Rappler.com
Jonathan Yabut is the proud Filipino winner of the hit Asian reality TV show, The Apprentice Asia and is currently based in Kuala Lumpur as the managing director of his own marketing consultancy firm, The JY Ventures & Consultancy. Jonathan is Asia’s leading motivational speaker on topics involving leadership, development of Gen Y workers, and career management for Fortune 500 companies. He is also the author of Southeast Asia’s 2015 best-selling motivational book, From Grit to Great. Visit his official Facebook Fanpage here.
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