High staff turnover can have a pretty damaging impact on any business.
Productivity, client satisfaction and staff moral can all take a hit, as well as the high financial costs involved in recruitment and onboarding.
If you're wanting to know what signs to look for, Harvard Business Review have done a study and identified 13 behaviours that appear to predict if a person will leave an organisation.
If you don't have time to read the whole article you could basically roll up all 13 behaviours into 'losing motivation and engagement in all aspects of work'.
Not exactly an earth-shattering observation but worth being reminded of.
What is perhaps slightly more interesting to note is that the common anecdotal behaviours often associated with someone leaving (being more formally dressed, frequently missing work for 'doctor appointments' etc) didn't correlate as highly as the others.
However, whatever behaviours you identify, the real challenge is what to do about it.
Waiting until someone demonstrates negative behaviour before intervening is not the best policy, though it’s often how it plays out in practice.
Prevention is a much better cure when it can be achieved.
One of the best prevention methods I've found are regular manager one-to-ones.
I should point out here that by regular, I mean weekly, or at the very least monthly. Waiting six months or more before checking in on an employee is not often enough to catch the subtle changes and resolve the little frustrations before they become major issues.
Regular, quality, face-to-face time with managers plays an important role in staff satisfaction and is often considered an indicator of how important they are to their employer.
Remember, people join a company but leave a manager.
If you use this time to discuss career progression, developmental opportunities, support requirements and constructive feedback (rather than project updates or client issues!) a person is much less likely to WANT to leave, let alone have their departure catch you unaware!
However if you are noticing worrying behaviour then it's best to tackle it straight away.
Sometimes that can be as simple as an impromptu coffee and a catch-up other times a more formal meeting may be more appropriate.
Either way don't be afraid to tell them you've noticed a change in their behaviour or their attitude and that you want to understand what's been going on.
The cause may well have nothing to do with work at all (I’ve discovered many a relationship problem or housing crises using this method!)
Or it could unearth an issue that needs addressing.
How you address it is up to you and will depend on what it is and how important the individual is to your organisation, but at least with it out in the open you can decide what action to take.
Either way, expressing your observations is also a subtle reminder that you are paying attention and that negative behaviours won't go unnoticed or unchecked. People aren't blind and they do talk so it's often a worthwhile reminder for the whole team.
The impact and cost of dissatisfied staff can be huge and the cost of staff replacement is far higher than simply the recruiters fee. While keeping an eye out for disgruntled behaviour is important, prevention is your best cure. And any time invested in ensuring your team are satisfied, motivated and productive is time worth spending.