8 Surefire Signs Someone is About to Quit, According to Harvard

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Kayla Heisler1.16k
June 24, 2024 at 4:36PM UTC

Is it possible to tell when an employee is on their way out? An extensive study revealed that you don’t need psychic abilities to know when receiving a resignation letter is in your future.  Researchers at Harvard Business Review asked nearly 100 managers how the behavior of their peers and subordinates shifted in the months prior to their voluntary departures. Additionally, researchers surveyed 100 employees to find out how their own behavior shifted prior to their own voluntary departures. Behaviors listed were whittled down and distributed the survey to additional groups of managers. Here are the top 8 pre-quitting behaviors according to researchers:

1. They’re Less Productive Than Usual.

If you notice that an employee who gets a lot done has significantly slowed down, this may be a sign that they’re on their way out. 

2. They’ve Turned into a Lone Wolf.

When an employee who’s typically a team player stops working with others, take this as a sign that the employee is ready to leave. They know they won’t be seeing coworkers for much longer, so they’re breaking away.

3. They’re Putting in the Minimum Effort.

Employees who are naturally hard workers typical stand out. Take notice if an employee has stopped going above and beyond and is now only sticking to the status quo.

4. They’ve Stopped Trying to Please the Manager.

Displays of apathy can make it apparent that someone is considering leaving. Employees who have become indifferent may be doing so because they know that their boss won’t be their boss for much longer.

5. They Aren’t Invested in Long-Term Deadlines.

Someone who knows that they won't be around to see a project come to fruition is less-likely to put in maximum effort than someone who knows they'll be around to see the end result.

6. They’re Being Uncharacteristically Negative.

When the person in your office who's typically upbeat starts seeing the glass half-empty, don't let the change go unnoticed. A drastic personality shift can signal that they are fed-up and heading out.

7. They’re Less Motivated than Usual.

Employees on their way out are not as likely to display interest in completing tasks on time or completing them well. When they know they won't be working towards any promotion or recognition, their drive to do well can sharply decrease.

8. They’re Regularly Unfocused.

Everyone has an off day here and there where paying attention is more difficult, but employees who know that they are about to begin a new journey are likely to find themselves particularly distracted.

While employees leaving is a natural process that all businesses encounter eventually, there are ways to reduce rates of turnover. Practice transparency with your team in the wake of management shake ups. There are also many practices that employers can implement to keep employees satisfied and keep employee attrition rates down, such as offering incentives like loan repayment plans and mentorship programs. Conducting exit interviews with employees who have chosen to leave is another strategy that can help employers gather data to help retain employees in the future.

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