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Signs an Employee Is Planning Their Departure

Nothing lasts forever – including your current workforce. Employees come and go, and it’s up to you to spot the differences and telltale signs that’ll lead you to the employee that’s on the fringe of letting go. Once you’ve figured out who may be packing their bags for other pastures, you can make the decision to either let them go or negotiate a deal to keep them in your ranks. Below are some signs that an employee may be planning their departure.

A once spot-on employee is getting sloppy

Has your star performer engaging in sloppy work habits? Are they missing deadlines and making errors? There could be more to the story here, such as a decline due to physical or mental health concerns, but if you’ve not been made aware of any issues and suddenly they’re slipping up at work, you might have a possible departure on your hands. Monitor the situation to see what arises.

Dressed up more often than usual

Is your khaki and casual shirt employee wearing suits and ties to work on random days with no notice? Odds are they’re either trying out a new look or looking for employment elsewhere. If they don’t have meetings planned with clients or any other reason to dress up when they’re usually dressed down, they might be going to meet potential employers or network with someone who is trying to help them get their foot in the door.

Coming in late or leaving early

Being early is one thing, but if they’re leaving early and coming in late when they’re usually prompt, they might be mentally checking out of the role. When an employee is dedicated, they’ll stay the duration of their shift to show the amount of effort they’re putting into the role. If they aren’t, keep a note of their arrivals and departures and if things don’t look up or follow a routine – such as a child’s soccer game – you might have a bigger issue on your hands.

Disconnecting with you and others around you


Is Chipper Charlie not as peppy as he used to be? If a member of your staff used to be more in touch with their team and involved in group activities but has been checked out lately and conveniently absent during team lunches, a little red flag is waving and you should add it to the list of other unusual behaviour that this employee is exhibiting. Are they starting fights with co-workers and complaining out of the blue too? If they are no longer on their best behaviour and lashing out, it’s time to sit down with them to see what’s bothering them.

Absent a lot

Taking time off during the week and being absent on Fridays without using vacation time could mean your employee is taking that time to interview for roles. There is no way to know for sure if they’re actually involved in family activities or other initiatives/commitments, but if they’re suddenly stepping away from work to take time off, they may be up to something.

What happens when you see this?

Engage in conversation to see if they will open up and explain why they’ve been acting out of the ordinary. Meet in private to see what’s bothering your staff member. If they exhibit some unusual behaviours and then go back to their normal selves after your conversation, you might be in the clear. Gold star for you – but your job isn’t done there! You still need to follow up with them periodically to see if there is something that you can do to help prevent occurrences in the future. Use your judgment – you can’t accuse anyone of trying to flee without solid evidence, so proceed with caution and engage your staff member in a conversation to see if their behaviour is linked to external issues.

If they are set on leaving and you’ve decided not to stop them, ask if they’d like to do an exit interview so you can learn why they left and what you can do in the future to change as a company if you’re experiencing high amounts of turnover. Sometimes internal reflection is necessary in order to isolate the problem, especially if the problem is due to something you’re doing wrong. This may not be the case – but you need to cover all bases.

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