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Rumors of Resignation: Signs an Employee is Going to Quit

Rumors of Resignation

Susan only told her coworker, John, she wants to quit her job, but now most of the office knows, including Susan’s manager. Office rumors can spread like wildfire, especially rumors of resignation. But what happens when those rumors are true? Can the employment relationship be saved? 

One thing is certain, it pays to be at the forefront of employee engagement issues to prevent employee turnover issues from escalating to office gossip in the first place. Aside from rumors of resignation, there are certain telltale signs to look for that may indicate whether the office gossip is actually true and the employee wants to quit. If you know what the signs are, you may be able to change the course and prevent workplace rumors from taking hold in the first place, which often undermines productivity.

Axcet HR Solutions Director of Human Resources Jeanette Coleman takes a deeper dive into this scenario and discusses how managers and small business owners should handle rumors or suspicions of employee resignations. 

Signs an Employee is Going to Quit

An attentive manager likely already has a hunch an employee wants to quit before the employee gets to the point of telling coworkers about their plans. While sometimes they can be completely caught off guard, these are general signs that may indicate the employee is going to quit:

  1. New attendance pattern. Arriving late when the employee is always punctual is a red flag. As is leaving early, missing a lot of work and taking longer breaks. The individual could be attending job interviews, trying to use up PTO or becoming more disengaged.
  2. More personal phone calls. While there very well could be a family emergency, an uptick in personal phone calls could mean the employee is talking with potential employers.
  3. Change in work habits. Missing deadlines, not speaking up at strategy meetings and failing to volunteer for new projects or long-term assignments are all signs an employee is going to quit. These are more pronounced if the employee has always been a hard worker.
  4. Complaints about the company. When a generally content employee starts complaining about policies, clients, bosses, coworkers or their workspace, something isn’t quite right.
  5. Sudden interest in workshops. If the employee has never been interested in additional training, certification or workshops, but suddenly is working on expanding their resume, it may be a sign. Also, if you note they are building out their LinkedIn profile and gathering recommendations when their profile has been untouched for some time, it could be cause for concern. 
  6. Avoids company events. When an employee is looking for a new employer, you may notice them missing from team building events, social events or even office luncheons. They may even become quieter and more secretive in general.

how to deal with gossip at work

Additional signs to look for include major life changes, a coworker who was also a friend left the company, the employee was recently passed over for a promotion or has stagnated in his role.

While these signs indicate an employee is looking for a new employer, there is an overlap among signs of resignation and employee burnout. Burnout occurs when an employee has been highly engaged for a long period of time without the skills or support needed to maintain their wellbeing — and the rate at which employees are suffering from burnout has skyrocketed during COVID-19. In fact, one software company surveyed employees and found 42% suffered from burnout pre-pandemic. But amid COVID-19, that number jumped to 72%! Ultimately, burnout can lead to employee turnover.

Related: Know Before They Go: How to Ease the Pain of Employee Departures>>

What to Do When You Hear Rumors of Resignation?

With the high cost of hiring, onboarding and training, it only makes sense to try to intervene and save the employment relationship. According to Employee Benefit News, companies spend 33% of a departing employee’s annual salary to hire a replacement. But before you venture down the path of doing anything and everything to stop the employee from quitting, you might ask yourself if the relationship is worth saving. 

If it is a valuable, productive employee, it’s only natural to start throwing raises and perks at the individual to entice her to stay. Unfortunately, counteroffers may not be the ideal play in a situation like this. Instead, stay interviews, employee engagement surveys and exit interviews may help you make the changes necessary at your organization to increase your employee retention rate.

Related: How to Minimize the Impact When an Employee Quits Without Notice>>

Counteroffers Only Provide a Temporary Solution

A study by Robert Half found that, on average, employees who accept counteroffers from their current employer stay only an additional 1.7 years. That counts more as a temporary patch to the problem than a long-term solution. If you made a counteroffer to save time, money, and effort on hiring and training a new employee, notice in those 1.7 years you likely could have located a candidate who might have stayed with your business for much longer. Over a year and a half is more than enough time to train a new employee, too. In short, counteroffers are a bad bet.

Related: Why Counteroffers Fail and What Employers Should Do Instead >>

Stay Interviews, Employee Engagement Surveys and Exit Interviews: A Better Bet

  • Stay interviews are conducted on a regular basis with employees who have worked at your organization for a while. When conducting a stay interview, management should sit down with tenured employees and ask them about their reasons for staying. Follow this up with questions about what improvements they think your organization should make. Since these will be some of your most reliable, trustworthy employees, listen closely. They will help you identify what your organization is doing well, but also what might make another employee — or them — want to leave in the future.
  • Employee engagement survey data helps identify the causes of disengagement at your organization and potential reasons employees may leave. Once the data has been collected and analyzed it can be used to increase employee retention rates. Axcet partners with small and mid-sized businesses in the Kansas City metropolitan area to create, distribute and analyze employee engagement surveys that provide the type of results that makes improvement possible.
  • Exit interviews can help you make positive changes in your organization and more effectively retain the employees who are still there. Departing employees can help you identify areas that need improvement, including management styles, morale, company strategy, marketing, operations, systems and the structure of their divisions.

Request a Consultation with Axcet HR Solutions Today

Are you having employee retention issues at your small business? Kansas City-based PEO Axcet HR Solutions can help. From assisting small and mid-sized businesses with the creation of mission, value and vision statements to compensation analysis and succession planning, our team is here to help smaller organizations in the Kansas City area grow and thrive. Please schedule a consultation to learn more about these and other Human Resources administrative support offered by Axcet HR Solutions.

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