Is Your Employee Ready To Jump Ship?

Elizabeth Cipolla

A new year has just begun. Like most of us, your employees likely enjoyed a holiday season filled with celebration and time with loved ones. The start of a new year often inspires time for self-reflection as we gear up for a new year to begin. Of course, we all have the best of intentions when making our resolutions to make the incoming year better than the last.

What might your employees be resolving to change in 2018? Fitness? Weight loss? To quit smoking? Perhaps. One resolution they might not be so quick to share with you is to find a new job.

Whenever you lose an employee, it creates a void within your organization. These voids don’t come without a price. As you know, it isn’t always easy to find the resources to recruit, hire and train a replacement. This doesn’t even include the extra hands that need to chip in so you can cover what the lost employee had been doing while you hire someone new.

Wondering if your employee might be headed in a different direction? Check out these common signs to see if your hunch is correct.

¯ They’re avoiding you.

If your employee has decided it’s time to make a move, chances are they may feel guilty or worried about being caught. This becomes especially difficult for an employee who has been close to you throughout their employment because they might feel conflicted about letting you down on a personal level. What do many of us do when we feel this way? We avoid the person we’re worried about offending. Your employee is no different. If they’re worried about being caught or feeling guilty for their secret job search, they’ll likely avoid having to interact with you whenever possible.

¯ They’re starting to slip on deadlines and details they’ve never missed before.

Making the decision to leave a job is not always easy. Think about the last time you voluntarily left a position. You probably didn’t reach your verdict overnight. Chances are it was something you contemplated over a period of time. However, once your decision was reached and you decided to go full throttle on a search for your next gig, you probably experienced a type of emotional disconnect towards your current job. If your employee has made a decision to leave, they might start to put less effort into staying late to meet aggressive deadlines or in trying to perfect every little detail before submitting their work.

¯ They’re coming into the office a little late, leaving a little early, or taking longer lunches.

When your employee is actively looking for other work, they are likely doing it on company time. It isn’t because they are bad, it’s because the companies they’re talking to are also open the same time you are. This means they must get creative about scheduling interviews. It’s common for recruiters to schedule meetings during the early morning, late afternoon or lunch hour. If your employee is coming into the office a little late, leaving early or taking longer lunches, they may be interviewing.

¯ They’re expressing their unhappiness.

We’ve already established that a decision to leave doesn’t come overnight. If your employee is actually telling you and others around the water cooler how unhappy they are, there’s a good chance they’re gearing up to leave. Initially, when unhappy feelings develop, your employee might try to keep them inside. However, when these feelings start to grow, they become harder to hide. If your employee is reaching out to express their unhappiness, don’t ignore it. They are reaching out to you for your help to resolve whatever is bothering them. Don’t let a good employee slip away by turning a blind eye.

¯ They’re becoming socially disengaged.

When someone has decided to leave, being social with colleagues or clients suddenly feels less important. If your employee never missed an opportunity to attend a work function, and now avoids them like the plague, chances are they’re mentally disengaging from the company social scene. If they suddenly have conflicts preventing them from attending the annual holiday party or summer picnic, they might be preparing themselves to leave.

Don’t be caught off guard ever again with a resignation letter. If you’re paying attention, it should never come as a surprise that your employee has chosen to quit. Read the signs long before they take action, and step up your leadership game to motivate and retain your team.

Elizabeth P. Cipolla SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a leadership communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, employment branding, professional development and executive coaching for nearly 20 years. Her leadership experience comes from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, aerospace, e-commerce, nonprofit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at