Chances are, if an employee shows up to work one day wearing a ratty t-shirt, puts his shoes up on his desk, unwraps a sub sandwich and begins wolfing it down greedily while ignoring the ringing telephone, he isn’t planning on remaining with your company much longer. While this hypothetical scenario doesn’t require a genius to decipher the signs of job dissatisfaction, in real life the signs are rarely so obvious. In order to avoid being taken by surprise with an unexpected resignation, it helps to recognize the signs that indicate an employee is thinking about quitting. If you value their service and feel they have a long-term future with your organization, you can proactively take steps to improve their morale and have them reconsider moving on. Let’s face it, the hiring process is time-consuming and often frustrating. It’s best to nurture your good employees and do your best to retain them while you have a chance.
Telltale Signs of Employee Dissatisfaction
- Your employee is experiencing a personal crisis. A divorce, health problem, or death of a loved one can all wreak havoc on an employee’s emotional well-being. Such major life crises inevitably bleed into work, and can affect job performance and overall happiness. They may cause an employee to reconsider his or her priorities and think about finding a new job. Engaging with your employees on a personal level and offering comfort and support during difficult times can go a long way toward making them feel appreciated during their time of need. Consider offering personal time off or reducing their workload while they cope with their situation.
- Your employee feels unappreciated. Even the hardest working, most motivated employee can suffer from burnout if others receive recognition, be it a promotion or a raise, while he or she seemingly toils in obscurity. These employees often confide their unhappiness to others, and may not put as much effort into their work as they had in the past. Paying attention to the signs and addressing any perceived slights can help the employee understand their hard work is not going unrecognized, and reassure them that future advancement is a possibility.
- Your employee is using lots of PTO and sick time. Colds happen and vacations are an important way to unwind and de-stress, but if your employee is suddenly calling in sick on a frequent basis or requesting an excessive amount of personal time off, especially if this is out of character, they may be actively searching for another job or even interviewing with other companies.
- Your employee is suddenly dressing up. Dress standards vary by organization, but a sudden change in an employee’s wardrobe attire can be a warning sign. If your employee ditches their Polo shirt and jeans for slacks and a nice button-up, there is a possibility they have an interview scheduled at some point during the day. Don’t make assumptions based on attire alone, but any abrupt improvement in overall appearance might prompt you to watch for additional signs.
- Your employee’s work ethic declines. When an employee who has otherwise been a stellar performer – showing up on time, completing assignments on time, going the extra mile – begins slacking off, missing deadlines, rolling in tardy or slipping out early, their disengagement may indicate unhappiness. If you spot this type of behavior, try coming up with interesting new projects to break up the monotony and keep your employee motivated.
It’s important to keep in mind that none of these behaviors is proof positive that your employee is going to quit, but keeping an eye out for the signs can at least prepare you for that possibility and come up with a plan for keeping them if you believe they are an indispensable asset to your team.