There are the obvious signs that someone in your office is actively seeking employment elsewhere, like being suspiciously dressed up for no good reason, or ducking out for multiple “dentist appointments,” or, of course, the ol’ résumé-accidentally-left-on-the-office-printer disaster. But there are more subtle signs, too. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, a pair of researchers share 13 of them, narrowed from a list of 116, which was itself culled from more than 900 “tells” gathered from interviews with hundreds of employees and managers.
Those 13 signs are:
1. Their work productivity has decreased more than usual.
2. They have acted less like a team player than usual.
3. They have been doing the minimum amount of work more frequently than usual.
4. They have been less interested in pleasing their manager than usual.
5. They have been less willing to commit to long-term timelines than usual.
6. They have exhibited a negative change in attitude.
7. They have exhibited less effort and work motivation than usual.
8. They have exhibited less focus on job-related matters than usual.
9. They have expressed dissatisfaction with their current job more frequently than usual.
10. They have expressed dissatisfaction with their supervisor more frequently than usual.
11. They have left early from work more frequently than usual.
12. They have lost enthusiasm for the mission of the organization.
13. They have shown less interest in working with customers than usual.
Nothing too surprising, really. Nonetheless, for the particularly paranoid manager, the researchers — Timothy M. Gardner of Utah State University and Peter W. Hom of Arizona State University — offer a formula for calculating an employee’s likelihood of quitting based off those 13 signals:
[W]hen they rated an employee based on each behavior (1 = strongly disagree; 2 = disagree; 3 = neither agree nor disagree; 4 = agree; 5 = strongly agree), those with an average score of 4.2 or higher had an expected probability of turnover two times the typical employee. Other factors can affect whether someone leaves an organization, of course, but a score this high suggests the risk of turnover is high enough to warrant attention.
In an amusing behind-the-scenes note, the researchers admit that their work was inspired by studies that attempted to uncover the signs that someone is about to leave a romantic relationship. A friendly tip: In either context, if you feel the need to begin sniffing around for signals like these, you may already have your answer.