A recent column showed that you can retain your best employees by showing your appreciation for their contributions.

Wouldn't it also be great if you could identify those who might be considering an exit--and far enough advance so you might convince them to stay?

Well, perhaps you can.

There are lots of behavioral indicators showing you that a key employee is thinking of leaving, according to a study by Utah State University. Statistical formulas can predict with a high degree of accuracy whether someone is about to make an exit.

Do you have any employees exhibiting these behaviors?

  • fewer constructive contributions in meetings
  • greater reluctance to commit to long-term projects
  • becoming more reserved and quiet
  • less concern about advancement or promotions
  • less interest in pleasing supervisors than before
  • avoiding social interaction with their boss and other members of management
  • suggesting fewer new ideas or innovations
  • doing the minimum amount of work needed and no longer going beyond the call of duty
  • less interest in participating in training and development programs
  • decreased productivity
  • less volunteering
  • more complaints, errors and taking time off.

Employees displaying the above are likely to resign within two months, the study found.

What's surprising are the kind of behaviors that aren't indicators: a lot of sick days, arriving late or leaving early more often, not responding to calls and emails, having more doctor appointments--and even "obvious" clues like leaving a resume by the photocopier or showing up in a suit.

What can you do if you observe any of the above behavioral indicators?

Simply meet with your employees, one-on-one, as often as you can. Ask what they like about the company, and what they find disappointing or frustrating.

It's a goal in our organization. We encourage open dialogue so we can foster a happier workplace. You can, too.