19 Warning Signs an Employee is About to Quit

By: | Updated: September 02, 2023

You found our list of signs an employee is about to quit.

Signs an employee is about to quit are behavioral markers that often indicate a worker’s intention to leave their workplace. These signs include delayed email responses, low productivity, and emotional outbursts. Recognizing the warning signals of an employee’s imminent departure will help you retain more workers and decrease turnover. Although it may be too late to convince them to remain, you can still take steps to reduce the likelihood of future employee departures and be ready to bring on new team members.

These signals are warning signs of employee turnover and workplace toxicity and can overlap with quiet quitting.

This article contains:

  • signs an employee is looking for another job
  • warning signs of an unhappy employee
  • signs an employee is thinking of leaving
  • telltale signs an employee is going to leave

Here we go!

List of signs an employee is about to quit

You can pay attention to the red flags and telltale signs an employee is going to leave the company. These signs include the following.

1. Networking Outside the Company

When employees start meeting and talking to folks from other companies, it usually means they are looking for new job opportunities. For instance, workers might attend events or join groups related to their industry, or they could connect with others on professional websites like LinkedIn. While this is a normal part of career growth, it can also mean that employees are considering leaving their current jobs. To keep employees happy and motivated, companies should make sure they are providing a good work environment and growth opportunities.

2. Loss of Focus on Long-Term Projects

When employees stop paying as much attention to long-term projects, it is a sign that they might not be as committed to their jobs anymore. Long-term projects need a lot of effort over time, and when employees lose interest, it can lead to missed deadlines and lower-quality work. Managers should talk to these employees to find out what is going on and offer help. Leaders can try to make the project more interesting or find other ways to get the employee back on track.

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3. Inquiring About Departure Processes

When an employee begins to ask about departure procedures, it typically means they are contemplating leaving their current role. This process could involve asking questions about how to resign formally, what benefits they are entitled to after leaving, or the timeline for transitioning out of the company. Such questions clearly indicate that the employee is actively considering their exit strategy. Employers should take these inquiries seriously and use them as an opportunity to engage in an open and respectful conversation with the employee. This discussion should help leaders understand employee motivations and explore potential solutions to retain them, if appropriate.

4. Increasingly Critical of Company Policies

An employee who becomes increasingly critical of company procedures is signaling their dissatisfaction with company operations. This criticism may show up as complaints about systems, frustration with decision-making, or objections to workplace rules. While constructive feedback can improve the workplace, an increasingly negative attitude toward company policies suggests dissatisfaction. To prevent potential turnover, firms can address these concerns through open communication and, when necessary, revising policies or procedures.

5. Ignoring Feedback or Evaluations

When an employee regularly ignores or does not pay attention to feedback and performance reviews, it might mean a few things. First, these workers might not care much about their jobs or improving. This behavior could also show that employees do not feel valued or supported by their bosses, making them unmotivated. This feeling can affect how well staff members do their jobs. In these situations, it is important for managers to talk to the employees, listen to their concerns, and provide helpful feedback. This process can help employees feel more motivated and satisfied with their work.

6. Increased Personal Phone Use

If you notice that an employee is using their personal phone a lot more, then it can be a sign that they are not focused on their job. While occasional phone use may be acceptable, using it too much at work can mean workers are too distracted. This behavior might show that they are spending too much time on their own interests instead of doing their job. Managers should talk to the employee about the company’s rules for using personal phones at work. During this discussion, leaders should find out if any issues might be making it hard for employees to concentrate on their tasks. This way, leaders can help the employee balance their personal and work responsibilities better.

7. Taking More Vacation Days Than Normal

A worker actively job searching or disinterested in their work may take more time off than normal. Since most job interviews and orientations are scheduled during the middle of the workday, employees may utilize their paid time off to attend them. Employees with many unused vacation or sick days may strive to “use them up” before they resign. Employees might avoid going to work as much as possible until they finally leave the firm. This situation is expected if a bad working atmosphere or corporate culture is detrimental to their mental health.

The worker’s excuse for taking time off might include exhaustion and anxiety over job obligations, overwork, tiredness, physical or mental health issues, or dissatisfaction with how their coworkers treat them.

8. Lack of Interest in Self-Development

An enthusiastic worker cares about their professional development and advancement on the job. Such employees actively seek out learning opportunities, such as challenging work or new resources, as well as mentors and make an effort to grow professionally. When people lose motivation to grow themselves, they may stop striving to better themselves.

Maybe the worker did not get the promotion they were hoping for, or they just do not see the same potential for growth in the company. If an employee stops seeking professional development opportunities, they are likely either ready to become stagnant in their present role or to start searching for a new one.

9. Decline in Active Participation

When an employee who is normally vocal, engaged, and proactive suddenly becomes reticent to speak out, stops contributing to group discussions, and seems to agree with everything being said, this is a red flag. Workers whose resignation is imminent are less invested in their job. They may feel meetings are pointless and refrain from participating as they normally would.

You should take this sign as a cue to schedule a one-on-one with the employee in question and discuss the matter further. Instead of criticizing a worker for not contributing, you should inquire if they are having any issues. You should know the worker’s contentment level and if there is anything you can do to improve their work experience. You can explain that you have seen a shift in their conduct and are curious about what may be responsible. Showing you care may help stop a key employee from leaving the business.

10. Attitude Change to Work

You can tell if an employee is considering quitting due to negative work experiences from their unfavorable attitude toward the company. Workers may become more vocal in opposing policies, more easily irritated, and more likely to instigate arguments. Conversely, some employees may become more solemn than normal and withdraw from workplace discussions.

The employee may provide no fresh ideas and over-critique colleagues. They may argue with coworkers, roll their eyes in meetings, murmur under their breath, and bicker via instant messenger. These team members constantly seek an argument or a reason to walk out.

An unexpected shift in attitude may indicate a deeper issue worth investigating. The change might be due to a bad supervisor or an unpleasant work environment. Failure to address this warning sign might lead to an unsatisfied worker who will never speak well of the organization.

11. Emotional Outbursts

All workers prioritize emotional stability. However, abrupt emotional outbursts may result from anger and frustration at work. A person’s emotional outbursts are one of the signs an employee is looking for another job. Learning to cope with the circumstance can help workers stay on good terms with their superiors and peers in the workplace. The employee’s disposition might cause them to struggle at work, and they may spread the negative energy to others. Workplace relationships become tense and uncomfortable. These workers may treat customers with disdain. You may have noticed that the employee is curt with other individuals, which is one of the signs an employee is thinking of leaving. If the reasons for the employee’s complaints are unjustified, termination may be in order. It is better to lose an employee than to have that person drag the team down with them.

12. Lower Productivity

You may have noticed missing deadlines, poor performance, and disinterest in tasks to the point of inaction. While these behaviors may not be indicative of an impending resignation, they are warning signs of an unhappy employee. When workers start to loathe where they work, productivity drops. An extremely productive worker may begin to fall behind on their work. Even the most cautious worker might start making needless errors.

A previously productive worker may develop a procrastination habit. This habit is common for employees who are unhappy in their present jobs. Therefore, it is important to investigate the root causes if workers displaying these behaviors just before leaving their jobs. Ignoring a slacking employee is not a good decision for the company and the team.

You may also see lower productivity on bare minimum Mondays.

13. Refusal to Accept New Roles

Another sign might be the worker finding excuses not to take on more responsibilities. They may try to find reasons to delay or cancel future trips. They may advocate for transferring their work to another worker for questionable reasons. These actions may indicate that the employee has an option locked down elsewhere and does not want to risk putting you in a bad place by failing to meet a deadline. Such workers may believe they are doing you a favor by letting someone else in the workplace train to take over their responsibilities when they depart for another job.

An employee’s impending departure may show through their lack of enthusiasm for new work, especially if they are normally a team player who is eager to take on more duties.

14. Avoidance of Office Social Events

Staff members considering leaving the company may be hesitant to commit to company social gatherings, since these outings are often organized several months in advance. If you have an employee who is hesitant to request a reservation for the Christmas party in the month of July, they could be anticipating their absence by that time. Employees may avoid workplace dinners and other social occasions with colleagues and managers because they fear being confronted with awkward questions.

15. A Major Life Event

Substantial upheaval in an employee’s personal life might prompt a search for a new line of work. Staff members who have recently relocated, been married or divorced, or had children are more likely to seek employment elsewhere to balance their professional and personal lives better. The reason could be that the life event has changed the employee’s financial status. This situation may mean they need different working hours than they previously did or are more open to change. A new parent, for instance, would require a higher salary to provide for their family and more adaptable working hours to accommodate their childcare responsibilities. Therefore, one of the most dependable signals that an employee is ready to resign is if they are going through a major life transition.

16. Lack of Interest in Career Advancement

Many employees are ambitious and want to rise up the corporate ladder. Therefore, if an employee no longer sees that objective as vital and no longer cares about satisfying their supervisor, it is quite probable that they will begin searching for a new job and have their sights set on a different set of career ladder steps.

This point is particularly plausible if you just turned them up for a promotion or increase they truly desired. A dissatisfied, disheartened, and underappreciated worker is readily inspired to hunt for a new job where they may be more respected and given more opportunities for career advancement.

17. Unrealistic Demands

An employee who suddenly requests a substantial pay increase or promotion may be contemplating leaving their current position since they do not feel appreciated. If another firm has given them a better opportunity, they may give their current job one more shot by seeking an outrageous salary increase. As a first step, have a conversation with the worker to find out why they are making the request. The employee’s reasons might not be legitimate. If, on the other hand, the concerns are warranted, you can review the request. Note that an employee who feels underpaid might become less productive at work.

18. Less Concern About Business Issues

When workers opt to quit, difficulties in the firm no longer move them. They care less about diminishing bonuses, returns on investment, or customer referrals. Furthermore, if you do bring up these concerns with them, you will not get a helpful response. When presented with a dilemma, the worker may act indifferently. They may shrug when asked a question and resist doing extra research or insist that an issue does not fall within the scope of their role. The employee may even be bold enough to ask you casually about post-exit clauses, a strong sign of their departure plans.

19. Isolation at Work

Creating a distance from coworkers is a strong sign that a worker is considering leaving. The employee may have lost interest in team meals, become awkwardly silent during meetings, and generally seem disengaged. If you notice that your colleagues are acting distant and uninterested in meetings or casual workplace conversations, this might signify that they are either considering leaving or dealing with a difficult issue. Employees’ emotional investment in their jobs sometimes decreases when they decide to go. So, the person who used to be everyone’s best friend is suddenly always tardy, never seems engaged in the firm’s activities, taking off days, and seldom makes any small conversation.

Steps to take if an employee wants to quit

Whether it is a matter of avoiding a specific departure or learning from the experience to avoid similar departures in the future, several strategies are available to reduce employee turnover.

1. Consult with the Worker

A straightforward conversation may accomplish much. If a member of your team has actively sought a new position elsewhere, they probably have good cause to do so. You should allow employees to air their grievances by sitting with them. Making even little adjustments to elements like employee perks or work hours might be all it takes to keep them on board. For instance, potential reasons for their departure may include scheduling conflicts.

2. Offer Development Opportunities

Offering opportunities for employees to learn and grow in their jobs can help if they are considering quitting. When employees see chances to get better at what they do and move up in the company, it can make them more excited about their work. This feeling can help keep workers from leaving. Providing options like training, mentorship, or interesting projects shows that the company cares about employee success. These chances can also motivate employees to stay and do well in their current jobs. In short, giving employees a chance to develop their skills and careers can turn someone thinking of leaving into a happy and committed team member.

3. Reduce Worker Fatigue

Studies reveal that burnout has worsened in the past few years, which may be a major motivator for workers to start looking for new employment. You should make regular team communication a top priority to identify signs of burnout early and intervene effectively. You can monitor employees’ feelings through surveys and frequent one-on-one meetings. If an employee shows symptoms of burnout, managers should urge them to take a mental health day or implement “brain breaks” that give them time away from their desks.


Every business owner or manager should pay attention to signs that their employee is planning to leave. It is necessary to consider and discuss these indicators in meetings regardless of whether or not the firm desires the resource. These signs might indicate the employee’s discontent with the work, a family crisis, or a personal issue they avoid discussing.

If you keep an eye out for the aforementioned red flags, you may spot developing problems and take appropriate action. Even if you lose a team member, your human resources department should set up an exit interview to learn from the event and enhance your retention plan for the future.

Next, check out this list of employee turnover statistics and this guide to quiet firing.

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FAQ: Signs an employee is about to quit

Here are frequently asked questions about signs an employee is about to quit.

What are signs an employee is about to quit?

Signs an employee is about to quit include low productivity at work, increased LinkedIn activity, and less interest in self-development. You might also notice that the worker makes fewer contributions.

How do you tell if an employee is about to leave?

A lack of dedication to one’s job may indicate an employee contemplating quitting their current employer. An attitude change at work and a major life change are two common signs to note.

What do you do when an employee wants to quit?

If you have noticed that an employee wants to quit, you should schedule a consultation with them. You can try to find out more about their grievances and make changes if possible.

Author avatar


People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at teambuilding.com. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.


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