13 Signs A Valued Employee is Looking to Resign

The job market has shifted and indicators suggest employees and prospective candidates are more in command than ever. With increased budgets for 2017 retention efforts and growing attrition rates for some companies, employers need to take a proactive role to mitigate risks of losing key employees.

It is common knowledge that employees are more apt to passively consider or actively search for a job change if they do not feel valued, do not get along with their manager, do not see professional growth opportunity, or simply aren’t thriving in their position.

According to an October 2017 Xerox HR Services’ Compensation Planning for 2017, fifty-three percent (53%) of respondents indicated that one of their biggest concerns in the coming year is talent retention. The same study suggests employers are preparing to pay more in 2017 to retain high-performing and high-potential employees, as well as those with in-demand skills.

All employers want to hold onto their best, brightest employees. A key component of that retention effort is being able to recognize when valued employees are seeking greener pastures. This examination should not be only in response to red flags, and should be part of a consistent monitoring of engagement, satisfaction levels and potential cues of unrest.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, researchers examined a set of behavioral changes by employees—what are dubbed “pre-quitting behaviors”—that can be strong predictors of voluntary resignations.

  1. Their work productivity has decreased more than usual. – Chances are your best employees consistently complete top-quality work on deadline. So, it should be easy to spot when their work starts to slip.
  2. They have acted less like a team player than usual. If an employee appears to be distancing himself or herself from co-workers, it could be a sign the employee has “checked out” and decided there’s no need to continue to feed personal or work relationships.
  3. They have been doing the minimum amount of work more frequently than usual. – Employees generally commit the same or improved level of performance, so if it becomes apparent an employee is attempting only to meet the minimum threshold then there’s reason for concern.
  4. They have been less interested in pleasing their manager than usual. Some employees are more invested in approval from their manager than others, but if an employee becomes completely disinterested in recognition or manager review that that employee is likely disinterested in a continued working relationship.
  5. They have been less willing to commit to long-term timelines than usual.
  6. They have exhibited a negative change in attitude. If a once happy employee suddenly develops a dismissive tone or begins complaining about issues once deemed reasonable challenges, this is a not-so-subtle hint that something is amiss.
  7. They have exhibited less effort and work motivation than usual. – An occasional slip-up or missed deadline could mean nothing. What should concern you are prolonged lapses in quality or efficiency.
  8. They have exhibited less focus on job related matters than usual. If all of the sudden meetings start passing by without so much as a word from a normally vocal employee, it may be time to approach them and check in.
  9. They have expressed dissatisfaction with their current job more frequently than usual. This could be a sign the employee has grown tired of their work and disengaged from the company.
  10. They have expressed dissatisfaction with their supervisor more frequently than usual. If an employee become more vocal in their personal or professional dissent with their manager then this is a key sign as it is one of the most common reasons for attrition.
  11. They have left early from work more frequently than usual. – If an always-punctual employee starts showing up and leaving early on a regular basis, it’s time to be worried.
  12. They have shown less interest in working with customers than usual. An employee that demonstrates of lack of concern or interest in external stakeholders is exhibiting disengagement.


While these signs could be indicators or personal problems or issues – they should not be ignored. Warning signs that key employees may be a “flight risk” should be on the radar of every manager.

One means of addressing this potential risk when these indicators show up is conducting a “stay interview.” Instead of conducting only exit interviews to learn what caused good employees to quit, HR might hold regular one-on-one interviews with current high-performing employees to learn what keeps them engaged and working in your organization and what could be changed to keep them from departing.

Although there is no silver bullet, a proactive approach and recognizing the indicators that suggest an employee is looking to leave may avoid a very expensive talent loss.

Brandi Gordon, SPHR – Senior HR Consultant

Disclaimer: Some information contained herein has been abridged from numerous sources and may be protected by various copyright laws. Such information should not be construed as consulting or legal advice. Please contact our office for specific advice and/or referrals.

Bay Area Human Resources Services

Inadequate Sick Leave Can Make Us All Sick

The annual flu season is upon us. Each week approximately 1.5 million Americans go to work feeling ill and often contagious.  The reason – inadequate (or no) paid sick leave.

According to a recent poll cited by Austin Frakt in the New York Times, at least half of the employees in restaurants and hospitals, two settings where diseases easily spread, report that they go to work even when they have a cold or flu.

Some employers, such as Chipotle, began offering paid sick leave to all its U.S. employees earlier this year. Recent studies back Chipotle’s theory that paid sick leave, despite the cost, ends up saving money by reducing the spread of contagions. Healthy employees do not make customers or other employees ill.

A recent study, published in the journal Health Services Research, estimates that 45% of the U.S. workforce does not have paid sick leave as of 2016. According to the report, approximately 50 million workers do not have paid sick leave and that approximately half of those report coming to work sick over the course of a year.

For a closer look at those who come to work sick, the publication Health Affairs reports that 65% of families with incomes below $35,000 have no paid sick leave. This confirms that the lack of paid sick leave is correlated with lower wage earners – effectively forcing them to go to work sick.

Data from cities such as San Francisco, which passed a mandatory sick leave ordinance, shows that paid sick leave is reducing the spread of disease. It is estimated that flu rates would fall over 5% if paid sick leave were universal. While the universal health care coverage brought about by Obamacare is viewed by many as a step in the right direction, it important to recognize that health care coverage does not give people time off to engage in illness prevention.  Adding to the weight of health economic data showing the full cost of inadequate sick leave, another study shows that sick workers are more prone to health-related injuries and workers compensation claims.  This cost is so substantial that it is estimated that the lost productivity from sick workers is equal the amount employers spend on health insurance.

Subtle advantages of paid sick leave:

  • Improved morale – no one likes working next to a sick colleague.
  • Children benefit from their parents’ ability to take off work and care for them.
  • Children of new mothers who have paid sick leave are better off because parents can take time off to go to doctor visits and get immunizations.


Historically, paid sick leave was a benefit negotiated by unions and labor contracts. Now, the benefits to employers, as well as the economy at large are becoming more apparent.  Many of the advantages of paid leave might be considered “soft cost savings”.  Regarding the hard cost to employers of offering the benefit, unless paid sick leave is made part of PTO (Paid Time Off) in states like California, it is not necessarily cashed out upon separation, thus it is not as expensive as vacation or holiday pay.  The evidence is mounting that employers should take a fresh look at offering adequate sick leave for all employees.

Paul Finkle, SPHR, CMC – Executive Vice President

Disclaimer: Some information contained herein has been abridged from numerous sources and may be protected by various copyright laws. Such information should not be construed as consulting or legal advice. Please contact our office for specific advice and/or referrals.

Bay Area Human Resources Services

Proper Workplace Investigations Critical

On August 29, 2016, the federal appeals court for New York significantly raised the stakes for employer liability created by employees – not just supervisors. In Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, Inc., the Second Circuit adopted a broad standard for employer liability resulting from discriminatory acts by employees.

The court broadened the “cat’s paw” theory of liability for discrimination and applied it to the actions of a co-worker rather than limiting liability to supervisors. The “cat’s paw” theory is named after one of Aesop’s fables, in which a shrewd monkey tricks a naïve cat into pulling chestnuts out of a fire; the monkey quickly eats them, leaving the cat with a burnt paw and no chestnuts. In the employment discrimination context, “cat’s paw” refers to a situation in which a biased lower level supervisor, who lacks decision-making power, tricks the formal decision maker in a deliberate scheme to trigger a desired (discriminatory) employment action.

In this case, Andrea Vasquez worked as an emergency medical technician on an ambulance crew for Empress Ambulance Service beginning in the summer of 2013. One of her coworkers, Tyrell Gray, immediately began making romantic overtures towards her, all of which Vasquez rejected. In January 2014, while Vasquez was out working a midnight shift, Gray texted to her naked pictures of himself. Vasquez was offended and immediately reported the situation to her supervisor, who instructed her to file a formal complaint with the human resources department.

Meanwhile, Gray caught wind of the complaint and took various actions in an attempt to avoid responsibility for his harassing conduct. Evidence in the case showed he manipulated texting correspondence he apparently engaged in with another woman, to make it appear that Vasquez had initiated an explicit exchange with him. He printed screenshots of the correspondence, transmitted them to human resources, and claimed that Vasquez had been sexually harassing him.

Based on this evidence, a management committee consisting of the company owner, a human resources manager, and a union representative concluded that Vasquez had acted inappropriately towards Gray. Vasquez denied Gray’s accusations and offered to demonstrate her version of events, but the company did not pursue her defense and complaint. The committee also refused to show Vasquez view the “selfie” image that Gray claimed was a picture of Vasquez. Ultimately, Vasquez was terminated for engaging in sexual harassment.

Vasquez filed suit, asserting that the employer’s decision to terminate her was an act of retaliation in violation of Title VII because she had voiced complaints of sexual harassment. Relying on the “cat’s paw” doctrine, the plaintiff argued that the employer’s decision to terminate her employment was influenced by false information provided by her male co-worker. The district court dismissed her complaint, concluding that an employer could not be held liable under the “cat’s paw” doctrine for the discriminatory or retaliatory intent of a non-supervisory co-worker.

On appeal, the Second Circuit disagreed and reinstated Vasquez’s complaint.  Despite the fact that the male co-worker was a low-level employee without any supervisor authority, the Second Circuit held that the employer’s “own negligence provides an independent basis” to treat the male co-worker as its agent and hold it accountable for his illegitimate intent.  Referencing the allegations that the employer “blindly credited” the male co-worker’s assertions and “obstinately refus[ed] to inspect [Vasquez’s]’s phone or to review any other evidence proffered by [Vasquez] in refutation,” the Second Circuit concluded that “an employer may be held liable for an employee’s animus under a ‘cat’s paw’ theory, regardless of the employee’s role within the organization, if the employer’s own negligence gives effect to the employee’s animus and causes the victim to suffer an adverse employment action.”


This case offers a blunt reminder that organizations should thoroughly investigate all allegations (and defenses) before taking disciplinary action against one employee in response to the allegations of another. Such an investigation should be impartial and thorough. It is not only important to glean as much information as possible through the investigation process, objectively consider all the evidence and to make judgements about the credibility of witnesses. We strongly recommend the use of an experienced external investigator, particularly in complex claims with limited witnesses.

Malcolm Whyte, SPHR – Vice President HR Services

Disclaimer: Some information contained herein has been abridged from numerous sources and may be protected by various copyright laws. Such information should not be construed as consulting or legal advice. Please contact our office for specific advice and/or referrals.

Bay Area Human Resources Services