Signs your star employee is about to quit

By Karin Eldor
Monster Contributing Writer
An important part of being a solid manager is recognizing and being in tune with your team. Having regularly scheduled one-on-one touch bases with your team members is an effective way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on with your staff.

Be proactive

So first things first: keep your radar fine-tuned. If you have a sneaking suspicion your star player is frustrated or no longer motivated, the trick is to keep your eyes peeled for any signs of jumping ship. Try to find ways to keep them engaged and positive. If you nip it in the bud while they’re still in the “searching” phase, you might still stand a chance at keeping them (if you want to, that is).
When it comes to multiple team members quitting, the key is stopping them before you have a mass exodus (and before those people spread unhappy cheer to everyone else at the office).
The truth is, when people quit it leads to lost productivity. If it’s becoming the norm rather than the outlier, it can start to cost you financially.
You also never want to be caught without a contingency plan, in the event your star player leaves. Recognizing that your rock star wants to exit the stage can help you prepare a back-up plan, and notify Human Resources to be on the lookout for new potential candidates. (On a side note, it’s always essential to have a stack of potential resumes on the ready in case you need to fill a role at the last minute, and stay several steps ahead of the game.)
And now, here are the signs to look out for:

Any drops in productivity levels, meeting deadlines and general care for the assigned tasks can be a huge red flag. All of a sudden you notice your employee coming in late, taking extra long lunches and leaving early. These changes in behaviour are most important when they signify a change or decline: for example, the team member was once a master at meeting deadlines, with time to spare, and was always the first one in the office. Another possible sign? Their office attire went from sloppy to sophisticated in the blink of an eye.
General apathy
Your team member used to ask questions in meetings and take notes. Today they don’t seem at all interested in projects or in anything work-related. Stress is now replaced with indifference, excitement with negativity.
Gossiping and bad-mouthing
Speaking of negativity, this person is now involved in office gossip and what seems to be daily complaining to coworkers. You notice the eye-rolls and the constant whispering. General negativity and attitude are becoming easier to gauge thanks to today’s popular open-office concepts.
If the team member is spreading negativity in the workplace, them quitting is a blessing in disguise – you don’t need them spearheading a revolution in the office. Negativity has a way of festering among the rest of the team and it’s highly contagious – so you’re better off without ‘em.
They start taking a lot of days off
All of a sudden, your star player is taking a lot of random vacation days and sick days – but the key here is that they rarely took days off before. Maybe they are using those days off to accept job interviews or maybe they want to use up all their days before quitting.
Where are they at?
As a manager, it’s important to note where each team member lies in terms of their professional cycle, in the job. There’s a great leadership theory developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard (The One Minute Manager) that describes “situational leadership.” It’s about understanding where your team members are on the cycle of their role. For example, when an employee starts a new job, they’re usually super keen and motivated. This can tend to change once an employee becomes overwhelmed or frustrated, placing them on the low end of the “maturity level”– or as Ken Blanchard puts it: “The honeymoon is over.”
Body language
You might notice many of the red flags from body language alone – lack of eye contact and engagement can speak volumes. If your team member was once chatty and friendly, and now makes a beeline past your office to avoid chitchat, something might be up.
Can we talk?
If you notice any of the above, coupled with a 15-minute meeting request from the employee or a “Can we chat?” while swinging by your office, chances are a resignation letter is coming next.
So, they are leaving. What next?

  • Assess the rest of the team: Are more people going to want to jump ship soon too? Feedback from HR about the exit interview can give you insight here
  • Consider the exit plan: Ask yourself, did the person quit with regret, to pursue another job opportunity, or bouncing out the door with joy (and as we’ve even seen in some cases, with a YouTube video announcing that “They quit!”)

If your department is beginning to seem like a revolving door with high turnover, ask yourself and perhaps HR for feedback. Maybe you need to reassess your managerial style or the company’s structure.

People will always come and go, so at the end of the day, focus on ways to keep morale high. When people enjoy coming in to work and are happy, they will likely stay – and be more productive in the long run.

Need to Replace a Star Employee?

No one wants to lose one a top performer, but it sometimes happens and you may find yourself with the need to hire someone good, and fast. That is where Monster can help. Get started with a free job post and we can help you connect with your next star employee.