8 Possible Signs Your Employee Is Planning To Quit Their Job

Research shows that, in 2015, 88 percent of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their present job. At the time, this marked the highest level of satisfaction over the last decade.

Another report, however, states that the average employee tenure is eight years, and the average annual turnover rate is 19 percent. Despite statistical discrepancies, employers still must do everything in their power to remain on the positive side of this equation.

Employment agreement

What are some of the main reasons for employee turnover?

  • Employees are overworked.  Almost 70 percent of employees feel they have too much work to do. Today’s employees understand the importance of work/life balance. This is especially true for companies that downsize. Employees are laid off and those who stay are burdened with more work which means longer hours at the office. If your workers feel that their productivity is being taken advantage of, chances are greater that they will eventually resign and seek out an employer who also offers the opportunity for work/life balance to all team members.
  • Job expectations were not met.  Some employees leave an organization because the actual job they are doing is different from what was defined in the job description for which they originally applied. This may even lead workers to feel that they cannot trust their employer in addition to feeling as though they are working out of their element.
  • The employee is not fit for the job. When an unqualified employee is hired for a specific role, it can cause a negative domino effect within the company. Additionally, these types of situations frequently end in the employee either being let go or quitting.
  • Non-competitive wages.  2015 study reported that 23 percent of all employees in the U.S. would likely resign from their current job if another employer offered them a position paying just 10 percent more. If your company provides comparatively meager salaries — and if management is hesitant to give promotions or raises — top performing employees are usually the first to go, followed by remaining staff members. Even if you hire new employees, it is only a matter of time before they too seek higher paying jobs.
  • Toxic company culture. Work environments that allow mistreatment of employees, gossiping, backbiting and finger-pointing (assigning blame) will always adversely affect productivity and morale. A toxic company culture will make your employees feel unmotivated and despondent, eventually resulting in higher overall turnover.
  • Employees do not feel valued. The desire to be recognized and rewarded for a job well done is part of human nature. If you do not show appreciation for your employees’ important contributions and achievements, don’t expect them to remain loyal to you or your organization.
  • Lack of opportunities for career advancement. Salary and other benefits are not always the reasons why employees choose to stay with a company. One survey found that 60 percent of millennial workers would choose a job that has a strong potential for career development over a job that would give regular wage increases. If employees feel that they are going nowhere in your organization, they will look for a job that will help them advance their career.

By keeping the above aspects in mind, employers will increase their chances of remaining relevant and competitive forces in the job market. Nevertheless, there are certain clues which may indicate when an employee is planning to move on to a new endeavor.

Staying in tune with the following signs may assist employers in working to retain their top talent before losing them to a more competitive job offer.

What are possible indicators that an employee is planning to leave the company?

1.       They do not commit to long-term projects.  Employees who are planning to leave their employer do not want to commit to long-term projects since doing so could prevent them from leaving on their date of departure.

2.       They become less active at meetings.  This is particularly true for employees who typically contribute quality suggestions or ideas during meetings. Those who plan to quit their jobs are less inclined to provide great insights to a company that they are not invested in.

3.       Their productivity level drops.  While sometimes a sign of other provoking factors, when a dependable and productive employee suddenly becomes unreliable and less motivated, this may often signify his or her plans to leave the organization.

4.       More frequent absences.  If an employee is frequently absent for varying reasons, this may be a sign that he or she is searching for new employment. In fact, this may be the only reason if said employee rarely took a vacation or called in sick during the early part of his or her career with the organization.

5.       They take longer breaks.  While it is important for employees to have periodic work breaks, if an employee takes noticeably longer or more frequent breaks than usual, he or she may be spending that time meeting or speaking with potential employers.

6.       They start to take more personal calls.  When an employee begins leaving meetings or his/her work space often when taking personal calls, this could be a sign that he/she is speaking to a potential employer.

7.       They no longer seem interested in career advancement.  As stated earlier, most employees prefer a job that has a strong potential for career advancement. If your employee is no longer interested in opportunities that will help advance within the organization, he or she may have set sights on a new position.

8.       They avoid social activities at the office.  Employees who plan to leave their current place of employment will often avoid social interactions with their supervisor and other coworkers.

Stack of documents on the desk and pensive male employee working on background


The cost of employee turnover is relatively high compared to investing in your current employees. The cost ranges from up to 50 percent of nonexempt employees’ annual salary to 150 percent of exempt employees’ salary.

Therefore, listen to what the members of your staff have to say. Communicate regularly with employees so that you will have a better understanding of what they need in order to move forward. Ultimately, they will help accomplish the company’s goals and contribute to its success.

Further reading:  When a Key Employee Leaves the Company

Fred Coon, CEO 

At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.