Glance around the conference table at your next meeting. Would you believe at least one out of every five of your co-workers sitting around that very table is actively looking for another job? According to CareerBuilder, it’s true. At least 22 percent of workers plan to change jobs this year. Other research shows that at least half would be willing to leave their job if the right opportunity comes along.
So how can you spot a wayward job seeker among your loyal crew? You can start by looking for these telltale signs:
- They stop fighting. Liz Ryan, CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap, says sudden camaraderie isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s possible “your teammates have realized that they’re not unhappy with one another—they’re unhappy with you. They’re teaming up to help one another job-hunt, or job-hunting independently with a mutual agreement to keep everybody’s job search under wraps.” Take note when long-running conflicts seem to melt away or when colleagues who were never buddies before suddenly start lunching together, she adds.
- They take sporadic or unexpected time off. The folks at employee-scheduling software company Humanity advise taking note of new PTO patterns. “Employees with usually steady attendance records who start taking a couple days off here and there without much rhyme or reason are probably looking to move on from your company,” says Humanity’s David Galic. Suddenly taking random sick days or long lunches may be a sign your employee is interviewing elsewhere and unexpectedly taking long stretches of built-up PTO time could mean the employee is cashing in on vacation time before checking out.
- They become more active on LinkedIn. Career Consultant Jennifer Winters points out that there’s nothing suspicious about being active on LinkedIn on a regular basis, but those who suddenly take an interest, update their profile to look like a glowing resume, and hang out there constantly may be on their way out. “A sudden uptick in new connections, groups joined, or articles shared could be an indication your employee is trying to boost his or her social profile—and find his or her next big thing,” she says.
- They start caring about results and job titles. Yes, there are employees who obsessively document their career highlights and accomplishments, but most employees do not. Liz Ryan adds that you should take note if an employee suddenly starts asking things like, “Since I’m basically doing the Data Analyst job description anyway, can we change my title to Data Analyst?” or “How much money did the company make on last year’s product launch?” They may be looking for a better job title or success measurements to stack their resume.
Of course, these signs aren’t sure-fire ways to tell if an employee is job seeking, but it’s a place to start. The true value in recognizing these signs is in helping to prevent the employee from leaving. Paychex recently conducted a survey to find out why people quit their jobs. The reasons they uncovered include:
- Low salary – 69.44%
- They were overworked – 63.12%
- Employers didn’t care about employees – 52.77%
- They didn’t enjoy work – 49.17%
- They moved to another city or state – 48.49%
- There was a lack of recognition or reward – 45.24%
- They didn’t like boss – 44.66%
- A lack of benefits – 44.27%
- The boss didn’t honor commitments – 43.49%
- There was a lack of work-life balance – 41.79%
- Commute was too long – 41.11%
- Wrong people were promoted or fired – 40.04%
- A family situation changed – 35.38%
- They didn’t get along with coworkers – 32.26%
- There were unable to pursue passions – 31.88%
Sometimes the departure is inevitable (like moving to another city or a family situation changing) but, most times, there is a real, preventable reason the employee is preparing to bolt. That reason—whether it’s due to compensation, work conditions, work relationships and others—is often determined by company culture. While you can’t fix company culture overnight, you can take steps to identify and address the elephant in the room with your employees, reassuring them that you’re committed to fixing the problem.
Working with a staffing partner like The HT Group can help prevent an abrupt departure by maintaining an open dialog with the placed candidate (sometimes it’s easier to confess honest feedback to an outside recruiter than your manager) and by consulting on company culture pain points that may lead to poor retention. While some turnover can be expected, take note when there’s an uptick in resignations, look for the signs employees may be looking elsewhere, and work to correct the causes proactively.
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