When good employees quit, their employers are often left blindsided and scratching their heads. Even when the standard two-week notice (or longer) is given, seeing a valuable employee leave can cause a major disruption in workflow and office morale.

The key is being able to spot the telltale signs of an employee who is about to call it quits. While there’s no way to guarantee you can stop employees from leaving (sometimes life just end up leading them elsewhere), you can start taking action if you suspect a good employee is thinking about putting in their notice.

When someone is planning to leave their job, they may show one or more of the following signs while still at work:

1. Negative / Stressed Body Language

Many times one of the earliest signs is an employee sighing in frustration, frowning, crossing their arms or otherwise exhibiting dissatisfaction with their day-to-day activities. Even if an employee is holding back their visible dissatisfaction, they may nevertheless be under high levels of stress that could cause them to leave. In this case, they may fidget frequently, play with their hair in a stressful manner, pick at their skin, bite their nails, tap a lot, etc.

2. Attitude Changes

Going along with the above, they appear more irritable than usual due to job dissatisfaction. They may also no longer be as energetic and engaging as they once were, or on the flip side, they could suddenly become extra high-energy (anticipation of leaving and starting a new job can do that).

3. Changes in Performance

Many employees who no longer care about their job will let it show with lower work quality. Others may actually try to work harder than ever, wanting to go out on a good note and use you as a reference.

4. Poor Participation

Along with changes in work quality, many employees planning to leave will stop participating in discussions and meetings as much they used to. They will also develop a lack of interest in employee outings and other events.

5. Lack of Advancement Interest

Employees who plan to stay at one company for the foreseeable future are interested in promotions and raise opportunities. Those leaving have either given up hope in these areas or stopped trying.

6. Taking Increased Time Off

If an employee is starting to request more days off, leaving early or taking longer lunches, they may have lost interest in their job. These can also be signs of actively job searching elsewhere.

7. Appearance Changes

Especially when people are getting ready to leave and start a new job (or search for a new position), they may make changes in their appearance. Likewise, employees who no longer care about their work may stop putting effort into their appearance.

8. Poor Feedback / Vocalization

Employees planning to leave are less likely to provide feedback on the business, and they may stop filling out employee surveys. They also may become less vocal about the workplace in general.


Losing good employees is never fun, but you may be able to work with them and find a resolution if you notice the signs early enough. It’s also crucial to realize that your employees are individual human beings, and they may have personal situations or life changes playing a role in their decision. Talk with them calmly and respectfully, and see if there isn’t some way you can retain them for at least a little while longer. If there are no urgent time constraints, many employees are happy to stay longer at their current jobs if they feel valued.