Every CIO or senior IT manager has been through it – finally you seem to have stabilized your IT team. The team seems to be collaborating well, hitting project deadlines, and you are feeling confident about delegating and perhaps taking a well-deserved holiday.
Then, one of key IT staffers resigns. They are off to the competition or what they consider to be a better opportunity and you never saw it coming.
But, according to Nicole Gorton of Robert Half, employees who are thinking of leaving nearly always provide hints, which a savvy employer should be able to detect. “Early warning signs provide scope to remedy the situation if necessary, or put you in good stead to begin the hunt for a new replacement to ensure the transition passes smoothly.”
There are five obvious signs that should alert you to an unhappy employee, looking toward greener pastures:
1. A noticeable change in attitude. A normally outgoing employee becomes quieter and more self contained, or a normally quiet employee becomes more assertive and loud. Both of these changes can mean someone no longer cares what management thinks, which should alert you to a problem.
2. Less communication. Typically, employees who are thinking of leaving keep a low profile while they’re job hunting. So if an employee who used to be full of ideas dries up, something is going on.
3. Longer lunch breaks, frequent absences. Job hunting involves interviews. If someone is away more often than usual, chances are they’re talking to prospective new employers.
4. More personal phone calls. This is another sign that interviews are scheduled – or job offers are being made. If an employee is consistently walking out of the room when taking mobile phone calls, start getting suspicious.
5. Change in dress. Most employees don’t come into work in their best suit. So if someone arrives dressed to kill or with a portfolio in hand – chances are an interview is on the cards.
“Once you’ve spotted these signs, it’s safe to assume an employee is looking elsewhere,” points out Gorton. “So it’s time to decide whether this is someone you wish to keep, or a blessing in disguise. Obviously situations will vary, however each should be approached with tact all the same.”
“If the employee is someone you want to keep, try to get to the root of the issue by brainstorming a new agreement that may persuade them to stay. Encourage them to talk about what they enjoy about the job and what frustrates them – by addressing these negatives you may even convince them to stay. Either way, you will gain valuable insights that will help address ongoing issues and assist in restructuring the position to avoid future turnover” adds Gorton.
If, despite your encouragement a valued employee decides to leave, make sure the parting is amicable and you leave the door open to their coming back. Sometimes new jobs don’t work out, and if that’s the case, you would like this person to consider working for you again. Don’t commit yourself, but make sure they know you would be happy to talk any time they are on the move.
Alternatively, identifying leaving signs in an employee you’re not particularly worried about losing allows you time to prepare for finding a replacement and to analyse your needs. Will a direct replacement be needed or do you need to reconfigure your staffing?
Sound out possible replacements by testing your networks, or by looking toward recruitment agencies for help. By planning for a possible resignation, you will be able to immediately swing into action once it becomes a reality, minimising disruption to your organisation.
“Above all, resist the temptation to speed up the departure by making work uncomfortable for the employee. A disgruntled former employee bad mouthing your organisation will only cause further impairment,” cautions Gorton.
Sign-up for our free newsletter to kick off your day with the latest technology insights, or share the article with your friends and contacts on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ using the icons below.