3 signs an employee is a flight risk

25 Jun 22 | Blog

Nobody likes being blindsided. Maybe it’s the weekly casual 1-2-1 that turns into a sombre conversation about now being the right time to move on. Or an emailed letter of resignation sat in your inbox on a Monday morning. Either way, it stings.

But aside from your emotional response, losing an employee is also an expensive event – costing you anything from 16 to 213% of their salary. But it’s not just the direct costs. You can also see less revenue as replacements are trained, and even the knock-on effect on your remaining employees. 

So with ‘the great resignation’ possibly on the way, it’s time to pay attention to the warning signs – and understand what difference you can make. 

Employee flight risks: how to spot them

1. Think long-term: are they invested in the future?

Research into the ‘warning signs’ that someone’s looking to quit lists 13 key behaviours – several of which point to a general disinterest in the future of the organisation. That’s not surprising: if you know you’re moving on, then you’re not going to get pumped about a Q4 project when it’s only February. 

But it’s more than being invested in the work itself. Do you see your employee catching up with colleagues, piping up in company-wide meetings, and trying to connect with their managers? Like a relationship on the rocks, one clear sign is if they’re not putting in the time.

Signs they may be about to quit:

  • Lack of excitement about long-term projects
  • Not building relationships with colleagues or bosses
  • Aren’t seeking development, training, or new opportunities

2. Listen closely: what are their words and actions saying?

Everyone planning to quit knows to be careful what they wear. Come in suited-and-booted, or in a slightly dressier top than usual, and prepare for half-joking suspicions about interviewing for a new role. While that’s not something worth looking out for, some new behaviours can be pretty obvious signs that something’s coming.

A “negative change in attitude”, and expressing “dissatisfaction” about their manager or role both make the list of the biggest indicators. Essentially, if someone’s unhappy to the point of quitting then they’re probably not keeping it to themselves. And even if that’s not in words, doing less work and reduced productivity also made the top 13 too. 

Signs they may be about to quit:

  • Lower productivity and generally slacking off 
  • Negative conversations with their colleagues
  • Literally telling you they’re unhappy

3. No-one’s an island: how are all your employees feeling?

No-one stays in the same job forever. People move on, life goes on. But if one person leaving is indicative of a bigger organisational problem, then it’s worth knowing about. Otherwise you could see the sort of ‘great resignation’ event that can put your business into real trouble.

Maybe engagement is struggling, or wellbeing’s taken a hit – especially after the stressful chaos of the pandemic. Or you’ve introduced a new policy that hasn’t gone down well – like putting an end to remote work, despite 1 in 3 saying they’d quit as a result.

Signs others may be about to quit:

  • The organisation is getting low engagement scores
  • There’s a clear wellbeing crisis across the board
  • You’ve introduced unpopular work policies

How employee surveys can identify flight risk employees & prevent a resignation crisis

Career advancement, new life goals, travel plans – there’s 101 reasons someone might leave your organisation. And most of the time, there’s no point in trying to stop that. 

What’s important is identifying the common, reoccurring reasons that are turning people off from staying. Once you know those, you can get to work. We know that employee surveys are a key part of that, in so many different ways:

  • Employee lifecycle surveys: Our Leavers survey removes any guesswork, and gives your departing employees a chance to get it all out. Cathartic for them, and insightful (if slightly painful) for you. Over time, you’ll build up an understanding of what the common themes are in people’s explanation of why it’s time to go
  • Engagement survey: You get more from our Employee Engagement survey than others on the market – thanks to powerful analysis that pulls out the primary problem areas you should focus on. This means you can act fast to prevent anything that might boost churn
  • Wellbeing surveyThis gives your employees a clear sign that you care, first and foremost, but also helps you see what’s triggering any wellbeing crisis – and whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, or social in nature
  • Deep dive surveys: If you’ve already identified where you’re going wrong – say, there’s an issue with management – then you can ask your organisation to elaborate with a focused deep dive survey. We’ve got 20+ on all key areas, so it’s easy to get answers

Check in on your teams with an industry-leading employee survey, and understand how you can up the ‘staying power’ of your organisation:

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