Avoid Employee Turnover: How to Tell if You're Losing a Top Performer

By Robert Half on April 27, 2021 at 8:14am
  • Employees who feel underappreciated, underpaid or unchallenged are big flight risks.
  • Absenteeism, a decline in work habits and a negative attitude are warning signs an employee is considering leaving.
  • Reviewing compensation, perks and benefits is a key step to retaining the employee.

Skilled and driven professionals are apt to make career moves in any environment — and drive up your firm’s rate of employee turnover. Employees want to feel challenged and appreciated. And they don’t want to be underpaid or stuck in one position for too long. If their current job isn’t a source of fulfillment, it’s likely they are already searching for their next opportunity.

Every manager should care about employee retention, particularly when it comes to top performers. But do you know what warning signs to watch for? Here are some red flags:

Increased absenteeism. Disengaged employees tend to miss more workdays than their colleagues. So, when a team member starts using up their personal or vacation days at a faster pace than usual, take note. It could be a sign the employee is feeling burnout or taking time off work to search and interview for other jobs.

Social withdrawal. Avoiding the more social aspects of work — like virtual team-building activities or group coffee chats — is common among employees who are considering leaving. Also, if previously outgoing staff members are now quiet during team calls or unwilling to engage during video meetings, this could indicate they are starting to detach.

A decline in work habits. A spate of errors, missed deadlines, and an overall decrease in productivity can indicate that a once-passionate employee is now going through the motions or feeling overloaded.

A change in attitude. When a positive, team-oriented employee starts complaining about the organization or butting heads with coworkers, it’s often symptomatic of job dissatisfaction.

To prevent top talent from leaving, take action as soon as you see sufficient evidence of an employee’s intent to leave. Here are some tips on how to avoid employee turnover: 

1. Ask questions and listen attentively

Meet one-on-one with the employee and candidly ask if they are dissatisfied. When faced with a direct question, many people will respond in truth. If the employee says yes, ask why, listen attentively, and explore possible remedies that would work for both parties.

2. Review salary, perks and benefits 

Compensation is often a factor for employee turnover. Strong performers who have in-demand roles are flight risks because they know their skills are valued, regardless of the hiring environment. Consult the 2021 Robert Half Salary Guide to make sure your salary offerings are on par with (or better than) competitors in your area. Offering flexible schedules, including for remote team members, can also help your employee retention efforts in many cases.

3. Show you take concerns seriously

If you sense an employee is looking to leave because they want more challenging work, consider offering new responsibilities that will stretch their skills. Provide virtual training opportunities to support their ongoing professional growth. Another idea: Set up a mentoring arrangement. Through mentoring, the employee can gain additional skills and knowledge — and find new enthusiasm for their work and career.

4. Say thanks

One of the easiest and most cost-effective retention tactics is remembering to recognize people for their good work. Offering a simple “thank you” for a job well done can be a surprisingly powerful employee engagement tactic. Prompt, sincere and specific praise provides an emotional lift and shows staff that you’re paying attention to their efforts and appreciate their contributions. 

5. Provide support 

You can’t expect top performers to work at or beyond capacity for sustained periods, especially if you want to avoid employee turnover. A staffing agency can help. When workloads spike, Robert Half can connect you with the talent you need. Consultants can provide much-needed support to your core team. And your business can bring in these workers for short-term but critical initiatives that require time and specialized expertise.

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