What does thinking about quitting look like?

Can you tell when a worker is about to resign?

When a person resigns, there are a lot of costs involved. But depending on what you were paying the worker, the expense can be incredibly damaging. For instance, According to estimates from the Centre of American Progress, it can cost up to 16 per cent of an annual salary for low-paying jobs, 20 per cent for mid-range salaries, and up to 213 per cent for top executive positions.

Aside from the obvious recruitment and retraining expenses, when one employee leaves, others often start asking “why?” This can have an indirect impact on the organisation, and theoretically can instigate a chain reaction of departures, especially if the initial exit wasn’t handled well.

But while it is sometimes inevitable and unavoidable, watching out for the warning signs and enhancing your negotiation skills can give you the best opportunity to turn the employee around.

“A person’s attitude can create behaviours that are hard to disguise”

Resignation alerts checklist

A 2014 study by Huntsman School of Business associate professor Tim Gardner found that sometimes it isn’t the obvious symbols that suggest employees are contemplating throwing in the towel, but rather subconscious expressions of disengagement.

“It appears that a person’s attitude can create behaviours that are hard to disguise,” he said.

One or two months before the dreaded resignation letter turns up, there are a number of tell-tale signs. If employees show six or more of the following 10 behaviours, according to Mr Gardner, there is an 80 per cent chance they are about to quit:

  1. Are they apprehensive towards taking on long-term projects?
  2. Have they started doing the minimum amount of work required?
  3. Are they less concerned about pleasing their boss or exceeding expectations?
  4. Do they avoid interacting with supervisors all together?
  5. Have they become disinterested in promotions or advancements?
  6. What about training and development programs?
  7. Have they become more reserved?
  8. Do they contribute less to meetings?
  9. Have they stopped producing new ideas?
  10. Has their productivity levels gone down?
You can address the employee's problems before they have consciously decided to leave.You can address the employee’s problems before they have consciously decided to leave.

Recapturing disengaged employees

Picking up on these trends early will enable you to redress any issues that the employee may have. For instance, Karen Hsu, vice president of marketing at Badgeville, told BusinessNewsDaily that leaders should investigate to find out where the problems lie. However, without communication skills training, it can be difficult to recognise the symptoms.

“Usually, there’s some core issue the employee is dealing with,” she said. “Address the employee, [and ask] what’s going on. If it’s personal, be understanding, but if it has to do with the company, talk about it.”

While you could cut your losses, with a little understanding and communication expertise, it is certainly possible to remedy the situation and retain key workers.


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