More than 2 million people quit their jobs in November 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was an increase of nearly 16% over November 2012. (Numbers are not seasonally adjusted.)
That’s a lot of people picking up and leaving their jobs. One of them might even be your employee.
If someone from your company were thinking of quitting, how would you know? Below are 8 signs that someone is about to quit their job.
To be sure, if an employee exhibits only one or two of these signs, that doesn't necessarily mean they're planning to leave. There could be something else going on in their lives that explains the behavior. But if they show a cluster of the signs, then it’s likely they are thinking of quitting.
1. Cleaning Up Clutter
The employee starts cleaning their normally cluttered desk and/or office. Personal effects disappear one by one. They throw out a lot of stuff or take it home.
2. Suddenly Spiffy
They start dressing better. Their grooming improves too. When friends comment on it, they say they want to appear more professional at work.
3. Less Time in the Office
They come in late and/or leave early, but not by too much. Lunch hours become longer. More ominously, they start calling in sick more often and using up their vacation time.
4. Decreased Commitment to the Job
This manifests itself in many ways. Employees who are thinking of quitting display less interest in their jobs. Their enthusiasm and productivity drop, they don’t volunteer for long-term projects, they make more errors and their apologies for the errors don’t sound as heartfelt.
5. Increased Isolation
The employee begins to spend less time with colleagues. They avoid you as far as possible and make eye contact less often than in the past.
6. Life Changes
Life changes often lead to job changes. Events like marriage, engagement, divorce, birth or illness in the family can lead to new pressures or responsibilities on the employee, prompting thoughts of quitting the job and maybe starting anew someplace else.
7. Private Phone Calls and Internet Use
When a recruiter calls the employee, they will speak briefly and then go to another area like a break room, vacant conference room or even outside the building to continue the call. If they’re reading their personal email or visiting the website of a potential new employer, they minimize the screen as soon as you walk into the room or cubicle. They use their mobile devices more often during work hours.
8. Change of Attitude
They become brusque and short with coworkers and get annoyed by things that were never a problem in the past. And they make it clear to their colleagues that they’re unhappy with the way they’re being treated.
If you're a manager and you believe one of your employees is thinking of quitting, you have a decision to make. Do you want to let them go - voluntarily or not - or do you want to retain that employee?
If the latter, the earlier you take action the better. There's a big price tag associated with an employee leaving. Talk to the employee and decide what, if anything, you can do to convince them to stay.