7 Clues That Your Best Employees Are Thinking of Leaving

Every CEO, or anybody in a leadership role for that matter, knows that employees are their organisation’s most valuable assets.

Attracting and retaining a strong high performing team is key to ensuring ongoing success.

Employees who will pull with the organisation during busy or challenging periods and those who will go the extra mile to add value are worth their weight in gold.

High employee turnover can disrupt a business significantly and put added pressure on those still within the organisation.

Employees are a precious resource, and a significant cost to any business and the salary and benefits package is only part of that.

Losing a key employee can be very costly in many ways, especially taking into account how long and how much cost it took to train them.

The cost of finding, recruiting, onboarding and training a new team member is considerable, and there is fierce competition for the best talent.

It makes sense, therefore, to put in place measures to ensure that your employees feel valued and will stay.

However, it is not always easy to measure employee satisfaction.

Knowing how to pinpoint those team members who may be considering leaving the organisation is essential.

In the majority of cases, by the time someone has found another position and tenders their resignation, it will be too late to change their mind.

Here we look at how you can identify those employees who are at a high risk of leaving.

#1 Employee Disengagement

If a previously productive team player shows an inclination to detach from the team, this should always be investigated.

There may be personal reasons as to why their approach has changed, but it could also be a sign of disengagement with their role or the organisation.

It is always worth taking the opportunity to have a confidential chat if this type of behaviour is noted.

While the employee may not want to share personal issues, it will allow them to acknowledge that their work has been impacted and it will enable the employer to show support and put in place any changes which may help.

A quiet chat will also offer the employee a chance to voice any dissatisfaction which may be impacting their performance.

Appropriate measures can then be discussed and implemented to improve their engagement and job satisfaction.

#2 Promotion Prospects

Not everyone wants to be promoted, but most people want to feel that their role is growing and their efforts are appreciated.

If an employee feels that they are stagnating, they are not being recognised for their contribution, or that there are no opportunities in their current role, they may think of looking elsewhere.

Of course, it is not always possible to offer promotion.

However, other opportunities to ensure that employees are engaged may exist.

Perhaps they could be offered the opportunity to take professional qualifications with support from the organisation.

Alternatively, they could be involved in improvement projects which would give them some autonomy and the opportunity to grow professionally while learning new skills.

The annual performance review is not the only time that job satisfaction should be discussed. Maintaining a close working relationship with the team will allow managers to identify those who would like to progress.

Offering the opportunity for progression, training or learning helps to keep staff engaged and ensures that they feel valued.

#3 Monetary Rewards

Everyone comes to work, at the most basic level, to be able to afford to live, whether that’s to make mortgage or rent payments, support a family or pay for life’s luxuries.

However, employees who appear to be solely or significantly focused on monetary rewards over the organisation’s goals are less likely to be loyal to the organisation.

If an employee’s foremost job satisfaction comes from the achievement of high salary or bonus levels, they are less likely to work productively for the broader good of the team or the organisation, unless they can see an immediate benefit for themselves.

Motivating the individual to become engaged in organisational goals will often lead to higher productivity and increased job satisfaction.

Conversely, someone who is not engaged in the business is less likely to be happy in their role and less likely to stay with the organisation in the long run.

#4 Conflict and Stress

Conflict and stress in the workplace, if excessive, can cause health problems and disengagement.

However, a reasonable level of both is healthy.

A happy and engaged employee is likely to feel confident in putting forward their views, even if those contradict regular practice.

This can lead to new ways of working and improved efficiency.

The employee will feel that they are valued and see the contributions they have made.

However, if too much pressure is put on staff members, or it is applied negatively, this can result in individuals shutting down.

If an individual who has historically contributed ideas or challenges no longer does, this can be a sign that they are no longer engaged with the organisation or feel that they no longer fit.

A moderate level of stress is generally healthy in the workplace, provided that it is positive.

It allows staff to work towards goals and feel a sense of achievement when they are attained.

#5 Leadership Changes

Bringing a new director or senior manager into the organisation is usually positive.

They will introduce new ideas and bring positive change.

However, for the individual employee, it can be a stressful time, particularly if they have worked with the previous incumbent for some time and this can prompt some employees to re-evaluate their career with the organisation.

New leaders should take care to engage with their team and get to know them.

Everyone has different leadership styles, and it may take employees a while to adjust if the new arrival differs significantly from their predecessor.

Sending a clear message, checking to understand and taking time to determine individual comfort levels will go a long way towards building loyalty and commitment within the team.

#6 Systems Changes

Businesses periodically make changes to their systems; increasingly so as the digital transformation progresses inexorably.

This can lead to stress both during the implementation and subsequently, as everyone comes up to speed.

Accounting systems, in particular, can be challenging as a change requires vast amounts of data to be transferred accurately and usually within a relatively short time.

With accounting systems, changes and updates are typically implemented at period close as this provides a logical cut-off, but this is usually a busy period for finance teams, in any case, meaning that a smooth and well-managed transition is essential.

Once a new system has implemented a downturn in productivity may be noted.

Ensuring that training prior to the implementation and ongoing user support is offered will go a long way towards assisting finance staff in managing the transition.

Due to the complexity of changing systems, the older system will typically have been in situ for an extended period, and many staff members will regard themselves as super users to a greater or lesser extent.

To find themselves suddenly in a position of not knowing how to get the best out of the new system can be disorienting and demotivating.

#7 Productivity Decline

It is worth keeping an eye on whether tasks are being completed within a reasonable timescale.

Everyone works differently, but if an individual appears to be taking significantly more extended periods to complete tasks, this should be reviewed.

There may be a training requirement that needs to be addressed.

Some employees will struggle on, becoming increasingly stressed and having to work extra hours, rather than asking for help.

Ensuring that your team are equipped to carry out their roles will go a long way towards job satisfaction.

A team member may be taking too long to complete tasks because they may not have enough to do.

Rather than raise this with their manager, they may be concerned that their job may be at risk and so extend their tasks to ensure that they appear to be busy at all times.

An employee that does this is likely to be bored and stressed. Far better that this is identified and their skills put to use elsewhere in the additional time they may have.

In Summary

Today, there are various predictive models for employee retention across a variety of industries. However, what applies to one organisation within an industry may not apply to another.

Regardless as to the industry, keeping your employees engaged with the organisation, making them feel valued and maintaining a good relationship with them as individuals will go a long way towards ensuring that your retention rates remain high.

The more an individual displays any of the behaviours covered above, the more likely it is that they are becoming disengaged.

While this will not always mean that they are considering leaving, an informal discussion to explore how they are doing will likely pay dividends in the long term.

We all spend much time at work. In today’s pressurised world, it is essential that we feel that is time well spent.