Signs that an Employee is Going to Quit
By Lisa VanWyk May 9, 2023

11 Signs that an Employee is Going to Quit

SIgns that an employee is going to quit.

If you suspect an employee is about to quit, here are signs to help you find out. These signs are red flags and a warning that an employee is ready to move on. If your employee is displaying three or more items on this list, beware. 

Assuming you’ll want to dissuade your employee from quitting; the best method is keeping your employees happy in a healthy work environment. Also, good communication is key. Of course, it is not always possible to keep every employee happy all the time. Here are a few warning signs that a valued employee is about to quit and ways to stay ahead of it.

Top 11 Warning Signs that an Employee is Going to Quit

1. Their productivity has decreased.

Have you noticed that your worker is completing fewer tasks than before? This is a bad sign. Keep in mind the problem might not only show in the quantity of completed tasks, but in the quality. Their work might not be as efficient or polished as before. As soon as you spot these signs, talk to your employee to evaluate what’s going on.

2. They no longer commit to long-term projects.

Simply put, they won’t commit to your company if they have found a new job or are looking for one. An employee considering moving to a new job will try to do the bare minimum and transfer to the new position as soon as possible. Another sign is they keep assigning their projects to other teammates because they don’t want to hurt the company by leaving projects incomplete. After all, a good reputation is important, in case they want to return in the future.

3. They act like less of a team player.

Lack of motivation and enthusiasm will leave them feeling like they aren’t part of the team. An unmotivated employee will act like a loner and won’t want to be involved with teammates. They may be avoiding questions from their teammates because they don’t want anyone to discover their intention to leave the company. 

4. They have been exhibiting less effort and motivation for their work.

As mentioned earlier, employees looking to quit will not be enthusiastic about their job and won’t make their best effort. A drop in the quality of work will be noticeable. Of course, keep in mind that other things may be happening in their private life that could be impacting their performance. An ill family member, money problems, or a host of other personal issues can cause the same effects. Take a moment to talk to your employee to figure out what’s going on and offer some help.

5. They contribute less during meetings.

People contribute less in meetings when their mind is focused elsewhere. Perhaps they aren’t feeling motivated by their current position or something in their work environment is annoying them. Or they may just be thinking about a new position they’re pursuing elsewhere. Or maybe they feel their contributions aren’t being taken into consideration, and that’s frustrating. This kind of employee might not see the point in contributing anymore. Consider what your meeting facilitator might do to increase contributions and engagement from everyone on the team. 

6. They leave early and come in late more often.

A lack of interest due to a new job on the horizon can be the reason for working shorter work hours. Burnout or a mental illness, such as depression, shouldn’t be ruled out either. Try to speak with your employee to try to see if there’s anything within your control to fix the problem.

7. They have expressed frequent dissatisfaction with their job.

Constant complaining is a huge red flag. The job might not be compelling anymore or they think they’re being treated unfairly. A huge work overload can result in feelings of irritation when there’s not enough completion wins. If any of these are the case, it’s a matter of time before the employee begins to look for a new job; if they haven’t found one already. The best course of action is to determine the source of the problem as soon as possible.

8. They have been less interested in pleasing their manager.

Lack of interest in pleasing the manager is another red flag to consider. Are the requests the manager is making reasonable? Rule out fault on the side of the manager first and evaluate whether the manager-employee relationship is healthy. Is there another reason behind the behavior? 

9. They have exhibited a negative change in attitude.

Beware of negative attitudes towards teammates, managers, and tasks. Murmuring, laughing sarcastically, or rolling their eyes are some examples. Try to address this as soon as you can, because it means that your employee isn’t happy about the job and you don’t want their attitude impacting the rest of your team.

10. They have stopped returning phone calls and emails.

Ghosting is a clear indication that they have stopped caring about their job and just want a way out of the company. Or maybe they’ve been hired in a new place. Talk to your employee or HR as soon as possible.

11. They’ve been quiet.

If they used to complain or disagree about things, and suddenly become quiet or complacent, it could be a bad sign. Silence, or silent treatment, can be a nonverbal complaint. Silence can be part of a healthy relationship, but it can also be a red flag. Talk to your employee to find out the reason for their unusual silence. 

These are just a few of the more noticeable signs. Your best defense is to know your employees. If you are familiar with them, you’ll understand patterns in their personality and habits. You will be able to recognize when there is a change in motivation. Also, if you have a good working relationship with your employees, they’ll be more likely to listen and negotiate with you if you try to dissuade them from quitting.

Dissuading an employee from quitting

Once you recognize the warning signs that an important employee is about to quit, you can try the following 4 suggestions to dissuade them. However, these techniques are best if instituted into your corporate culture from the outset as they also create loyal employees.

Conduct a stay interview:  This will better help you understand what motivates an employee to stay along with reasons they might have for leaving. From there, you can adjust the employee’s job to help meet their needs.

Give more praise & recognition: People like being recognized for their work. As a matter of fact, 37% of employees in a study said recognition was their main motivator at work. According to OC Tanner research, 79% of people quit their job because of lack of appreciation. Providing both public and private praise creates a better work environment and will reduce employee turnover.

Ask for employee input: Asking for input from your employees will help them feel like their ideas are being heard and that their opinions matter. It keeps them engaged with the company, and according to a SHRM Special Report strengthening employee engagement can also help you retain talent.  

Open communication: Establishing open and honest communication with your employees will go a long way to improve teamwork and morale. Employees become more connected to you and your business through this type of engagement. The more committed and embedded an employee is in a job, the less likely they are to quit.

Although these gestures may seem simple, they will go a long way to making sure your employees know they are respected and appreciated. If your employee quits anyway, let us help you find their replacement!


What are the most common signs that an employee is about to quit?

It depends on the employee and the situation. Remember to look only for clear signs and don’t overthink things. Having said that, a negative change in attitude can be a red flag. 

Is it a bad sign if a worker has suddenly become quiet?

It can be a sign that they aren’t happy with how things are going and they’re trying to communicate their discontent. It’s important not to oversee quietness.

Why do employees quit?

There are many reasons. Among the most common listed on Zippia are: 

  • The pay is too low. 
  • No opportunities for advancement 
  • Feeling disrespected at work 
  • Child care issues 
  • Lack of flexibility 
  • Lack of benefits 

How to tell if an employee is looking for another job?

You might catch your employee on job search apps such as, Linkedin, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc.å

We’ve covered the top 11 warning signs that an employee is going to quit and how to dissuade them and we’ve included some important FAQs.  If you choose not to intervene or are unable to keep the employee at your firm, Step Up Recruiting can help you find the right replacement who will be a good fit for your engineering or management team

Keep reading: Ultimate Guide to Hire an Engineer.