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7 Signs an Employee Is Ready to Leave and How to Change Their Mind

In: Industry Insights

Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2022 @ 10:47am

7 Signs an Employee Is Ready to Leave and How to Change Their Mind

How to Tell When a Top Healthcare Employee is About to Quit and Ways to Convince Them Not to

Since August of 2021, between 500,000 and 600,000 healthcare and social assistance employees have quit their jobs each month.1 As an employer, this can be incredibly frustrating because not only does it require a lot of time to hire and train new staff, but it is costly as well.

According to a Glassdoor survey, the average U.S. employer spends roughly $4,000 to bring on a new worker with a typical onboarding process taking about 24 days.2 This can take its toll, especially when losing a lot of staff in a short amount of time. Recognizing when an employee has reached this stage is the first step to turning this trend around, especially when followed by a few strategies that might help them change their mind.

7 Warning Signs an Employee is About to Quit

While an employee’s decision to quit may seem “out of the blue,” there are often signs that they are thinking about or preparing for leaving their role. They include:

#1: A Reduction in Productivity

Have you noticed that the employee doesn’t get as much done during the workday as they used to, or that they take longer to complete a specific task? If so, this could be a sign that their heart is no longer in their jobs — whether due to internal or external forces — and they are about ready to quit.

#2: Lower Work Output Quality

If someone is thinking about quitting their job, the quality of their work output may lower as well. They might become less concerned with how well they perform their required tasks because “it doesn’t matter anyway” since they don’t plan to stick around. In healthcare, this lower quality could show up in obtaining less comprehensive patient histories, using incorrect medical billing codes, or otherwise being sloppy with their work.

#3: A Change in Attitude

In some cases, you may notice a change in the employee’s attitude. This change might show up in the form of being less interested in pleasing a manager than before, reduced motivation at work, or a loss of enthusiasm while on the job.3 It should be noted that these can all also be symptoms of depression4. Therefore, if the attitude change occurs both inside and outside of the workplace, it might be an indicator that a mental health issue may need to be addressed instead.

#4: More Vocal Dissatisfaction

It’s also not uncommon for ready-to-quit employees to be more expressive in their dissatisfaction with their job or with individuals in supervisory roles.3 Maybe you notice that they are complaining more than they used to about their job duties, or they are increasingly critical of their manager when they used to only have nice things to say (or they said nothing at all).

#5: Increased Withdrawal

Is the employee distancing themselves from the workplace or team? This could be by taking a more hands-off approach to their work or not chipping in to help as they did before. An employee who is ready to quit may also withdraw on a social level, engaging in less conversation with their coworkers to keep their interactions from extending to anything beyond workplace necessities.

#6: Spend More Time Away from Work

Increased absenteeism is another warning sign an employee is ready to leave. They might be using up their paid time off so they don’t lose it once they go. Even if the time away from work is unpaid, it might still increase – especially if they need that time to look for other work or to attend upcoming job interviews.

#7: “Looking for Work” Social Media Posts

Social media activity can also provide some insight into an employee’s happiness at work. If you go to their LinkedIn page and their photo is framed with the #OpenToWork logo, for instance, it’s not out of the question to think that they are looking to make work changes. They might also share posts on other social media platforms, giving you a definite heads up of what is about to come.

Strategies to Make Top Staff Want to Stay

If there are signs that an employee is about to quit and you don’t want to lose them, there are a few things you can do that may cause them to change their mind.

  • Conduct “stay interviews.” Harvard Business Review suggests holding one-on-one interviews with your top staff at regular intervals to get an idea of what makes them stay and what could make them want to go.3 This enables you to take a more proactive approach versus trying to turn things around after it’s too late and they’ve already checked out.
  • Show appreciation. Sometimes good employees decide to leave their jobs because they don’t feel valued. They might feel as if their employer doesn’t recognize the education and skills they offer or that all their hard work is unappreciated. Giving your staff some appreciation shows them that you recognize what they do for the company and its customers or patients. It also increases the employee’s level of job satisfaction5, which can help reduce their desire to quit.
  • Offer more perks. Some employees might want to leave because they think that they can get better benefits elsewhere. One way to keep from being outdone by other employers in your industry (and geographical area) is to offer more perks than they do. This might include offering higher pay, more time off work, more flex time, or better insurance packages. It can also include more simple perks, such as free snacks during the workday, regular company-sponsored luncheons, and low-cost access to a local gym.
  • Address internal issues. Does one portion of the company lose more staff than another or do you have one manager who tends to have a higher turnover rate? If quit rates are higher in some areas than others, find out why and then address the problem. If you don’t find the root cause and it continues, all your other efforts may fail because the internal issue is working against you.

Finding top talent may be tough on its own but convincing a higher-level employee stay can sometimes be a greater challenge — particularly during “The Great Resignation.” Being able to recognize the signs that you may be at risk of losing employees and understanding some possible retention strategies can help you retain talent over the long run.

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic News Release. Quits levels and rates by industry and region, seasonally adjusted. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.t04.htm

2 Glassdoor for Employers. How to Calculate Your Cost-per-Hire. https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/calculate-cost-per-hire/

3 SHRM. 13 Signs that Someone Is About to Quit, According to Research. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/signs-that-someone-is-about-to-quit.aspx

4 National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression

5 Pfister I, Jacobshagen N, Kälin W, Semmer N. How Does Appreciation Lead to Higher Job Satisfaction? Journal of Managerial Psychology. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JMP-12-2018-0555/full/html


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The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ultimate Medical Academy.

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