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Paranoid That an Employee Is Preparing for an Exit?

By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

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Every business sees some amount of employee turnover. But poorly timed surprise exits can disrupt your team or important projects. Inopportune turnover can put you at a competitive disadvantage.

How can your business avoid being caught unprepared for employee exits? Tim Eisenhauer, CEO of Axero Solutions, a provider of social communications software, recommends keeping an eye out for some red flags. Here are 7 signs he says indicate someone is getting ready to resign–along with 7 alternative possibilities–all of which make it clear that communications is key to a stable workplace. 

1. Dressing up. “If your company dress code is business casual and an employee starts dressing up in suits, she is either looking to improve her career with your company, or she has just attended a job interview.” Don’t overlook the obvious signals, Eisenhauer says: “If an employee took off a few hours in the beginning of the day and came to work dressed up, it’s a sign that he might have had a job interview.”

(Or maybe he attended a funeral. Don’t jump to conclusions. Ask if everything is OK.)

2. Declining productivity. “An ideal employee owns his job and gets things done in a timely manner,” Eisenhauer says. Congratulations if that’s how yours behave, he says, but warns: “If one of them starts to fall behind on tasks, doesn’t get things done, and loses interest, you may be witnessing another signal but they’re about to leave.”

(Or they could be troubled by family problems or health issues. Offer a listening ear or schedule flexibility to employees going through tough times at home.)

3. Dropping out. Eisenhauer says that an employee who stops participating in workplace discussions and activities or withholds input could be getting ready to jump ship. Watch out.

(On the other hand, maybe a colleague or superior has given that person the impression that their participation is unwanted. Nurture a workplace culture that values varied employee views.)

4. Suspicious web activity. Eisenhauer suggests that it’s a no brainer: “If you see employees visiting monster.com, CareerBuilder, or other job websites, it’s likely they’re looking for other jobs.”

(Or they could just be helping out an unemployed family member. Try mentioning that you’ve noticed the job searches.)

5. Passing the buck. “If you see an employee attempting to unload daily responsibilities and tasks onto coworkers without asking for more responsibility, it’s likely they’re preparing to leave,” Eisenhauer says.

(Or, perhaps they have too much on their plate or don’t possess the skills to complete those assigned tasks. Find out if your employees have a balanced workload and are trained properly.)

6. Taking sporadic or random vacation days. ““Do employees trust you enough to tell you about their personal lives and what they’re up to when they’re not at work?” Eisenhauer asks. He says that if an employee starts asking for a day off here and there without indicating what they’re doing, it could be a sign they’re looking for a job elsewhere.

(Or they might be getting medical treatment or helping to care for a family member who is, and keeping that private is perfectly reasonable.)

7. Major milestones. “The birth of a child, a marriage, or the loss of a loved one are all significant times in a person’s life when it’s common to reevaluate work situations,” Eisenhauer says. He recommends taking advantage of such events as an opportunity to talk to your employees about their future with the organization.

(Or, you could strive to keep the door open and the lines of communications live all of the time, so that you know what makes your employees happy, and what motivates them to stay or leave.)

Follow Adrienne Burke @adajane

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