5 Warning Signs Your Employees Are Job-Hunting

job search

We all know that bringing all-star talent through the door is hard enough. Even more challenging? Maintaining a pulse on who’s engaged and who might be looking for greener pastures.

Don’t get caught off guard. Thankfully for HR teams, there are a few telltale warning signs that your top employees are looking for a new job. Once you spot these, it’s time to act fast. Below, we’ll dive into the warning signs and what your team can do to retain employees before it’s too late.


Red Flags

Before diving into the solutions, let’s address the warning signs. If someone is exhibiting any of these behaviors, they may be looking for a way out. Below are four subtle behaviors that could signal a job search. 

1. Private calls during work hours
It’s natural for workers to occasionally take private calls during work hours, but the problem comes when every call leads to a hushed conversation or search for an empty office. If employees are constantly running off to a private space to chat every time the phone rings, they could be interviewing at another company.

2. Disengagement with work
While there could be personal reasons for someone’s work ethic or attitude to change, those changes are often the result of dissatisfaction at work. Pay attention to workers who were once excited and enthusiastic about their jobs, but now seem to be doing the bare minimum. Check in with employees regularly to see if there’s anything you can do to improve their experience.

3. Isolation from co-workers
When a worker’s focus turns to a new job, their effort to maintain friendships or social ties with employees often decreases. You’ll want to focus specifically on employees who were previously social and engaged and now seem to be more withdrawn and less willing to interact with others. Consider talking to their co-workers to see if they’ve also noticed a difference. If it’s not a new job, it could be a mental health concern. In either case, you’ll still want to check in with that employee to make sure everything is OK.

4. Increased activity on LinkedIn
Professional networking and job searching are LinkedIn’s primary functions, so updated profiles and recommendations might mean the beginning of a job search. While these behaviors are all potentially innocent, it could mean they’re expanding their horizons and looking for a new job.


Measure Engagement and Mix Things Up  

Workers are more likely to search for new challenges if you’re not offering enough to keep them on their toes. To measure everyone’s needs and wants, run an engagement survey.  

That way, you’ll catch a glimpse into what employees are thinking and if there’s a problem with the workplace culture or their assignments.

You can also encourage workers to tackle a variety of different assignments. Every so often, ask if employees would want to do something different beyond their regular duties. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal assignment, either. For example, if one employee is particularly extroverted, you could talk to them about planning social events for your department.

Offering a range of opportunities allows workers to remain engaged with your organization. That said, be sure to be open and communicate honestly about how their workloads could be affected. You certainly don’t want to create another reason for them to potentially leave.

Measuring engagement and performance is easier with an HR management solution (HRMS) because it’s a central area to store notes on reviews, survey responses, and goals. Allowing workers to set their own goals and consistently monitor how those goals are progressing also improves engagement and ensures employees feel connected to their work.


Positive Feedback 

Although it’s important, emphasizing engagement isn’t the only way to keep workers happy with your company. Another key is positive feedback and recognition of the work being done. Employees want to feel appreciated, and they also want to feel like their managers value the work they produce. Regularly letting workers know they’re doing a good job is essential.

When someone does well with a project or task, praise them for it either in front of the department or privately. Be sure to take their preferences into account because not everyone enjoys public recognition.

An HRMS can help you track those preferences by allowing you to add notes on how employees react to recognition in public and private, along with information about performance reviews and other ways to manage their progress.    




Above anything else, employees want to feel connected and engaged with the place they work, and they want to be respected for the work they do.

Focusing on boosting engagement and positive feedback can reduce the chances of top talent leaving your company. These areas should be priorities regardless of whether you notice any warning signs, but seeing those behaviors can be a good incentive to kick your recognition and engagement efforts up.

One final key: To retain employees, be willing to listen to them about what they want and need from your organization and make changes accordingly. Workers will stay with a company if they think they’re valued, as long as they can see the company is making a tangible effort to improve and they feel like their opinions have an impact.


About the Author

Kelsy Ketchum is an editor for Better Buys, helping companies find and select the right software solution. She also writes about medical coding, human resources, and safety compliance. 

Topics: Talent, Recruiting, Retention

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