If you aren’t already paying added attention to your employee retention efforts, now is the time to start. According to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of quits reached its highest point in more than five years. If you’re unsure why professionals may be pondering a move, consider these potential reasons:
A job that seemed exciting a year ago doesn't anymore
Complaints or opinions aren't heard and efforts aren't acknowledged
And, of course, pay dissatisfaction
Top performers, particularly those in in-demand specialties, may be more open to leaving. Demand for Skilled Talent: The Great Skills Divide, a recently released research report from Robert Half, describes the current job market this way: Employees with specialized skill sets are in high demand and short supply.
To avoid losing employees with hard-to-replace skills, you need to keep open – or reopen – lines of communication. To start, pay attention to these signs that could indicate one of your employees has a wandering eye:
Five Signs Your Employees Might be Job Searching
- Disengagement and behavioral changes: The biggest telltale sign that an employee might be looking for a job elsewhere is disengagement, or a sudden change in the way they interact at work. They may stop chatting with coworkers and may no longer complain about daily frustrations. On the other hand, those who are quieter might suddenly become more aggressive and complaining. Likewise, a sudden increase in errors and missed deadlines could also signal disengagement. An employee who is dissatisfied at work or looking to move on may stop paying as much attention and begin to let things slip.
- Sudden interest in career development: If an employee who hasn’t previously seemed interested in career development begins asking about development opportunities, it may be a sign that they are looking for other job possibilities. An employee who feels trapped in a position with no room to grow, expand or move up in the company may become discouraged enough to want to move on.
- Asking for information on previous projects: If you start to get questions about old projects and an unexplained interest in company statistics, it's possible that someone's about to send out their resume. But don't be too suspicious — resumes are supposed to be consistently updated, and that employee may also be gathering information for performance-review time. This is where an open line of communication really helps.
- Decreased interaction with managers: If an employee who used to confide in you stops coming to you for help, look out. The employee could be purposefully avoiding you because he or she is planning to leave soon.
- A new, more formal wardrobe: If an employee that you already suspect is looking elsewhere begins to come to work dressed more nicely than usual, a job interview could be the reason.
What Can You Do?
Ultimately, you can't always prevent employees from leaving. However, you might keep valuable employees longer if you offer challenging assignments, check in regularly and acknowledge work efforts. And offering development programs is not only great for retaining employees – it can also add versatility and boost productivity.
Of utmost importance: Keep lines of communication open with all your employees. Specifically, be open to discussions of job satisfaction and career plans. A good manager will always encourage advancement and growth in his or her employees.