The signs that an employee is going to quit appear 9 months before they actually do

It’s falling engagement – and whatever causes it – that leads to employees slowly inching their way out the door, the study found.

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The signs an employee is going to quit appear about nine months before they actually do, in the form of reduced engagement – the level of interest an employee has in their work – on various levels, a new study from employee-retention platform Peakon shows.

Their data came from 33 million employee survey responses from 125 countries, including 36,000 from employees who actually quit an organization.


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The first sign that an employee is considering quitting came from a survey response about engagement: “How likely is it you would recommend [Company Name] as a place to work?”

Another question, gauging loyalty, asked: “If you were offered the same job at another organization, how likely is it that you would stay with [Company Name?]

Loyalty on the decline

For the employees that quit, the engagement and loyalty scores rapidly declined started from nine months to the day they left.

“Looking at all the graphs or trend lines of people who are leaving their work, there’s a quite significant drop at the nine-month mark for a lot of the drivers that end of being the leading indicators, which is fairly consistent. Which is something we were surprised to see,” said Kasper Hulthin, Peakon Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer.

It’s falling engagement – and whatever causes it – that leads to employees slowly inching their way out the door, the study found. Their loyalty – “a natural outcome of engagement,” the researchers wrote – starts to decline as well.

The other key issues also have to do with engagement as well.

The factors that start to drop are:

  • sense of accomplishment
  • need to feel appropriately rewarded for their work
  • the need to talk openly about pay with their managers, which is also important because it supports their self-worth
  • a path for development

In many cases, it came down to managers. People quit because they were unhappy with their managers (not because of their colleagues or because of company culture). Once again, the old “people quit bosses, not companies” axiom is proved true.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.