You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today.

We know that employee satisfaction matters. In past posts, we’ve talked all about why happy employees make for a better organization, increasing employee engagement, and designing your onboarding program to keep employees around for the long haul.

But you can’t always make everyone 100 percent happy. Employees leave their employers every day. Maybe they spot a shiny new opportunity. Or perhaps they see a chance to upgrade their terms and compensation. Or possibly, they wanted to relocate.

Regardless of the reason, employees always seem to quit at the worst time — when the team’s other backend developer is about to give birth, after you’ve recruited two new junior employees on the team and expected your more senior employee to train them, or during Q4 when everyone’s out for the holidays and there’s no one around to handle new recruits.

A loss of an employee means a loss of knowledge, of a perfectly tuned skill set, and of course, of time and money spent recruiting and training employees. And financially speaking, those expenses really add up — employee turnover can cost somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of an employee’s annual salary. If you’re hiring a senior executive, multiple that number at least three-fold — you’re looking at 150 percent loss.

So, what can you do to anticipate employee turnover? Here are a few signs of troubled times ahead.

  • They’ve hit a personal milestone. Whether it’s a birthday, work anniversary, or class reunion, these mile markers of our time on earth often lead us to contemplate our own life. Likewise, employees are likely to reevaluate their career satisfaction during these reminders of times-gone-by.
  • They’re becoming more active on Linkedin. If your employee is gaining new connections by the day, liking all the posts on their feeds, or suddenly publishing long-form posts on LinkedIn, then keep an eye out — they may be ready to pounce on a new opportunity.
  • They didn’t get the raise or promotion they were expecting. Progress and rewards make employees feel that they’re work is worthwhile. On the other hand, stagnancy breeds boredom and contempt, leaving dedicated employees feeling disheartened and unappreciated.
  • Their work wife/husband is leaving the company. Having a friend at the workplace can make the experience. It can make work more enjoyable and meaningful. So, when that friend takes off, it can change the employee’s entire work experience and outlook on the company.
  • They’re taking more time off. Notice that one of your employees is suddenly taking way more time off than ever before? They very well could be interviewing with other companies on the DL.
  • They’re struggling to fulfill their professional goals. Perhaps the role is simply not right for them. If they’re giving maximum effort to fulfill the minimum requirements, they’re likely in above their head, an altogether frustrating experience.
  • They have a new manager. They say employees don’t leave companies… they leave managers. A new manager can spell change in an employee’s role, responsibility, and interpersonal connections.  


But what do you do when you notice that your employee is about to call it quits? It’s time for a friendly chat. Talk openly and honestly to understand their mindset and morale and ask what exactly you can do to improve their experience at your company. While it may be too late, you could just as easily catch them just in time to convince them to stay.

You may also like

I am Y generation! How did I stay 7 years in 1 company?

Everyone seems to have an opinion about millennials and the employment market. The media calls them narcissistic, their parents call them lazy, the media calls them, and employers characterize them as impatient, disloyal, flighty, self-centered job candidates. But even millennials grow up.

5 Lessons I Learned From 20 years in People Management

Anyone who’s worked in HR knows that it isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s not just about setting up phone screenings and managing complaints — an HR professional wears at least a dozen different hats. We’re the first person a recruit meets, and the last person an employee formally chats with before leaving the […]

Mind the Marketing: How Thinking Like a Marketer Can Make You Better at HR

Marketing operates at a company’s core, working hand-in-hand with each and every other department. Its responsibilities are spread across the board — from branding, to customer acquisition, to measurements and future spending projections, to creative content, to communicating with existing customers, and beyond. But when it comes down to it, marketing is all about getting […]