THE BLOG

The One Sign Your Employees Will Leave

06/09/2015 04:52 pm ET | Updated Jun 07, 2016

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Your department is growing quickly. Life couldn't be better. Everyone is present and accounted for...hmmm...except Joe is not at his desk. In fact, it looks like he might be gone for the day. Again.

"He had an appointment," his officemate shares. That seems suspicious. After all, Joe hardly ever takes time off. Could he be looking for another job?

You do not want to lose a valuable employee. You know that replacing an employee can cost thousands, once you factor in lost productivity, for finding a replacement, plus hiring and administrative tasks.

But once employees start taking off for midday interviews, have you lost them for good, or should you try to win them back?

It is definitely worth having a conversation to find out why a valuable employee would suddenly be looking for another job.

The thing is, it probably is not a sudden decision. Good employees do not start looking for another job just because they have nothing else to do. Interviewing is a painful, time-consuming process, so an employee must have a very good reason for wanting to leave. So why is this happening? It's very straightforward.

They are being deprived of something that they need.

It is up to you to find out what that something is. Have an honest conversation with your employee about why he might be looking for a new job. You might find that he is lacking:

A challenge
Joe may be bored with his role and looking to shake things up. Find out if his passions are still aligned with the job. If he wants to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian, you may not be able to help him out. But if he wishes he would have been included on a particular project, then you can discuss more challenging assignments.

Recognition
Joe may have been overlooked the last time you acknowledged your employees. Come to think of it, when was the last time you acknowledged them at all? People want to be noticed for their accomplishments and receive feedback. Joe may be craving some recognition and affirmation that he is a valuable employee.

A positive environment
Your conversation could yield some valuable information, like the fact that you have an office bully who you do not even know it. He may just be looking for a drama-free workplace that is not so stressful. The solution may be as simple as addressing the problem employee or offering Joe some coaching on how to resolve the conflict.

Ideally, you would have great relationships with all of your employees, and they could easily tell you when they are not happy at work. However, those relationships take time and attention to build.

Before you count them as lost, take the time to understand why your employee wants to leave. That valuable conversation may be your only opportunity to turn the situation around -- and keep the next employee from saying goodbye as well.

How do you react when an employee wants to leave?