5 Signs Your Employee Retention Efforts Are Failing

If you aren’t already paying added attention to your employee retention efforts, now is the time to start. Accounting and finance jobs are getting harder to fill as professionals say "I quit" for a variety of reasons, such as these:

  • They’ve gained more confidence in their job prospects.
  • Salaries may be greater somewhere else.
  • They believe that job hopping is a good career strategy.
  • A job that seemed exciting a year ago doesn't anymore.
  • Complaints, opinions or efforts aren't heard or acknowledged.

Employee retention may be an issue for top performers, particularly those in in-demand accounting and finance jobs. The Demand for Skilled Talent, a research report from Robert Half, describes the job market this way: Employees with specialized skill sets are in high demand and short supply. 


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To avoid losing employees with hard-to-replace skills, you need to open — or keep open — the lines of communication. To start, pay attention to these five signs that could indicate one of your employees has a wandering eye:

1. Disengagement and behavioral changes 

The biggest telltale sign that employees might be looking for jobs 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 attention and begin to let things slip.

2. 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 he or she is 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.

3. 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 a 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 else can you do?

Ultimately, you can't always succeed at employee retention across the board. However, you might reduce turnover if you offer challenging assignments in your accounting and finance jobs, check in regularly and acknowledge work efforts. And offering job skills training and professional development programs is not only great for retaining employees, but it can also add versatility and boost productivity.

Of utmost importance: Keep communicating 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.

Step-by-step advice

Employers: Looking to develop effective strategies for keeping your best workers? See our Employee Retention page.

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Editor's note:This post was updated in 2016 to reflect more current information.