How to Predict Employees Leaving (And 15 Strong Signs That Someone is About to Quit)

How to Predict Employees Leaving (And 15 Strong Signs That Someone is About to Quit)

Today’s knowledge workers have more options that ever. Learn to spot the top signs that your best performers are thinking about quitting.

Your Talent Acquisition Specialist catches you in the elevator and shares some great news.

The CTO’s top choice for the Senior Software Engineer role just accepted their offer, and they’re scheduled to start on Monday.

Recruiting for that role was a pain, so you smile at a job well done.

But before you can cherish your big win, the problems start rolling in.

Within an hour, you learn that two Account Managers have submitted their two weeks’ notice.

The Director of Product Management, who generously gave a month’s notice, is leaving at the end of the week and there’s still no replacement.

And just as you take a deep breath and reach for your coffee, your computer pings with a terse email from the VP of Marketing.

It’s been a couple of weeks since he’s received any viable candidates for the still vacant Director of Marketing role. Any progress?

In the race for talent, it’s often “one step forward, two steps back” for HR leaders

If it feels like you’re losing talent faster than you can find it, you’re not alone.

According to Deloitte, voluntary turnover (aka “the quit rate”) shot up to 2.4% per month , which is the highest it’s been in almost 20 years.

In other words, a breathtaking 25% of the workforce switches jobs each year.

When you’re a tech company or management consulting firm, your bread and butter are providing knowledge or bringing together the best minds to come up with innovative solutions.

Knowledge-based organizations are totally dependent on the commitment and ideas of their employees .— W. Chan Kim, professor of strategy and management at INSEAD

Great employees are not easily replaced, so holding on to your intellectual capital is a matter of business life or death.

And as you’ve probably already noticed from crunching the numbers, it’s cheaper to keep the talent you have.

On average, it costs roughly $3,500 to hire a new employee – and the cost goes up depending on the role’s seniority and level of specialization.

In addition, the cost of replacement is anywhere from 150% to 300% of an employee’s base salary.

A talent strategy focused on keeping the star players you have is a smarter long-term bet.

People analytics is how leading companies hang on to their top talent

People analytics is a huge priority for companies.

According to Mercer, over 77% of surveyed companies have plans to increase their analytics capabilities.

But what exactly is it?

People analytics is a type of predictive analytics that’s tied to talent management.

It applies statistics and machine learning to large amounts of data to produce helpful insights.

It also enables business leaders to focus on the right areas and make smarter decisions.

Attrition has become a C-level priority, and senior management want access to tools that show real-time data on a company’s talent management.

As a company’s competitiveness becomes increasingly tied to its intellectual capital, retaining top talent has evolved into a mission-critical objective that requires meaningful, real-time data.

If reading that makes you a little exasperated, we understand.

Your team can’t be everywhere at once. It’s impossible to touch base with every single employee in a meaningful way.

Moreover, building the trust necessary to get employees to be candid and truthful about their experience in the workplace takes months, if not years.

The good news?

Thanks to people analytics, it’s now possible for HR leaders to predict an employee’s likelihood of quitting within a defined timeframe.

Descriptive vs predictive analytics: which should you use?

If you’ve already incorporated analytics into your HR strategy, now’s the time to ask yourself: are you using descriptive or predictive analytics?

For many HR leaders, it’s descriptive.

These departments collect historical data about employee satisfaction and turnover, draw conclusions from that data, and then use it to develop future HR policies.

While descriptive analytics helps at the macro level, it falls short when it comes to predicting individual employee outcomes .

What’s more, descriptive analytics often puts HR teams in a bind:

If your data only tells you that retention rates are low – but there’s nothing to tell you why that is – it’s easy for a manager to insist on implementing their solution (e.g. higher pay for their team).

Even if you know that raising salaries isn’t the solution, it’ll be hard to make your case when the only data you have is the fact that you’re losing employees.

That’s not to say descriptive analytics isn’t important. Data derived from these initiatives offer data sources for your predictive analytics efforts.

Note: be mindful about using general warning signs as a catch-all solution:

While there are fairly accurate indications that an employee wants to leave, the significance of these indicators varies among organizations, so it’s important to gather your data and draw insights based on your unique company culture.

You want to find relationships between different variables, rather than analyzing factors in isolation.

Take sick days for example.

If an employee takes a lot of sick days, it’s not necessarily a big deal. The simple answer is often the right one: They’re not feeling well.

But if your data shows that a sudden uptick in sick days combined with a recent performance review increases an employee’s chances of quitting, then it’s worth taking a closer look.

Meaningful insights come from evaluating the relationship between multiple variables.

In the meantime, it’s still valuable to keep the following red flags on your radar while refining your people analytics strategy.

Your employee’s level of engagement is low

Today, companies consider employee engagement initiatives a top business priority – and for good reason. 70% of business leaders believe that employee engagement is vital for producing business results.

There’s a demonstrated link between employee performance and employee engagement. In turn, employee engagement impacts employee retention.

But how do you measure employee engagement?

Qualitatively, you can work with managers to measure this through observation.

How do you assess employee engagement quantitatively?

Warning signs are helpful for an engaged, proactive manager. But if a manager is overworked, these signs can be overlooked.

So, how can you measure employee engagement at scale while obtaining individualized results?

Pulse employee feedback surveys are one option. There’s been a lot of ink spilled about surveys recently.

Are they a dinosaur in the age of machine learning and big data, or are they valuable ways of gauging employee engagement?

Well, that ultimately depends on how your company uses them. Issuing an employee engagement survey once a year may not obtain the best results for the following reasons:

  • There isn’t enough trust built up for employees to provide candid, honest responses.
    According to an EY study, less than half of workers place a “great deal of trust” in their employer.

  • Employees don’t believe any meaningful changes will result from the survey results.
    Aon Hewitt found that less than one-fifth of employees believed meaningful changes would come from their responses.

  • Employees don’t see the point of completing surveys, resulting in low survey completion rates.
    Survey response rates can be as low as 30%. Busy employees, unnecessarily long surveys, and skepticism about meaningful change all contribute to underwhelming completion rates.

On the other hand, frequent, but shorter “pulse” surveys prove that the leadership team wants to know what’s happening and has an interest in continuous improvement rather than cosmetic changes on an annual basis.

They also supply your organization with up-to-date data on where your employees stand to spot employees who are about to quit.

Yearly data is not enough when it comes to gathering intelligence for your strategic retention efforts.

Moreover, pulse surveys are more convenient for your employees to take since they’re shorter, improving completion levels across the organization.

It also allows you to gather data on specific scenarios and areas of company culture and employee morale, rather than subjecting your employees to information overload through a long, complex survey.

Your employee elevates their professional brand

Today’s talents seek development opportunities.

In the past, employees stuck with a company for their entire career – this isn’t the norm anymore.

People want to work on different projects, apply their expertise to new challenges, and develop their skills.

They also want to advance in their careers, whether that means taking on more responsibility or earning a better title.

Investing in meaningful training and advancement opportunities isn’t just about placating ambitious employees. It’s important to your bottom line as well.

As Bloomberg reports, recruiting skilled workers is expensive, so you’re better off making your talent instead of buying it .

In some cases, career progression is just as, if not more, important than salary.

According to a survey, 30% of twenty-something employees were willing to take a pay cut of 6% to 12% to work at a company with great mentorship opportunities .

What’s more, for every 10 additional months an employee stagnates in their role, there’s a 1% increase in their chances of leaving the company.

Your employee’s environment changes considerably

Organizations possess a lot of data about their employees, including their sick days, vacation days, marital status, and more.

These data points can help employers understand warning signs that an employee plans to leave.

Develop a framework that helps you differentiate between good and bad turnover

Not all turnover is bad.

If your low performers are leaving, but your top performers are staying, your company culture is moving in a good direction.

However, if you’re losing top talent ⁠— who were expensive to recruit (!) ⁠— at a high rate, it’s a sign of bad turnover that you need to address – and fast.

When you’re using people analytics to identify warning signs, it’s important to create a framework within which you can effectively assess these insights.

Look at the data to determine whether a high turnover rate is happening for reasons you can prevent – like ineffective onboarding procedures or toxic workplace culture.

Final thoughts: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in the talent management world

An up-front investment in predictive analytics is a surefire way to keep your business competitive.

The current talent shortage presents a phenomenal opportunity for HR leaders to demonstrate their worth and generate value for the business.

Forward-thinking, creative HR leaders will use the tools at their disposal to provide meaningful, predictive insights to hang on to their company’s biggest investment: its people.






  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo
  • Logo

Discover untapped sales potential and receive valuable industry insights, all starting with our free consultation.

Discover untapped sales potential

Receive valuable industry insights

All starting with our free consultation

Let’s work together

Let’s work together

Let’s work together


+961 71 95 10 90

Let's chat

© 2024 Inc, All rights reserved.