By Emily Suess

Small businesses are not immune to employ turnover. Sometimes an employee’s departure is a major blow to the business, and sometimes? Well, sometimes it’s a blessing. No matter the circumstances surrounding an employee’s resignation, it’s best for your business if you aren’t caught completely off guard. That means learning to recognize some of the signs that an employee has one foot out the door.

1. Productivity is Tanking

Productivity and performance are a couple of the first things to go when a member of your staff is getting ready to quit. This can happen because she’s bored with her job, overwhelmed with the work she’s doing, or too busy prepping for interviews to keep up with the current job’s demands. Depending on your small business’s organizational structure, you might not immediately be aware of a decline in productivity. However, other co-workers will probably notice right away and the news will travel quickly.

2. There Are Big Changes in Attitude

Employees who know they will be quitting soon, aren’t as invested in the company’s success. That means there’s a good chance they’ll be less enthusiastic, less motivated, and more withdrawn from the rest of your staff. It’s natural for people to start to withdraw when they’re facing a major career transition.

On the other hand, employees who have struggled to toe the line for the duration of their employment may become more vocal once they’ve made a decision to quit. Knowing they won’t have to deal with any long-term consequences, it’s possible they’ll feel more empowered to bring up concerns or problems they have with policies or management.

3. Absenteeism is Up

If an employee is taking more sick time or vacation time than usual, it could be a sign that he is making time for his job search or attending interviews with other companies. You may notice frequent scheduling changes—like a late morning arrival or extended lunch—if your business offers flexible scheduling options.

It’s a common jab in a lot of workplaces: “You look nice today! Job interview?”  It might just be that the employee updated his or her wardrobe or hasn’t had time to do laundry, but there’s always that chance.

4. Business Resources Used for Personal Activities

Employees who know they will be turning in their resignation sometimes use business resources for personal use. They might close the office door to take personal calls during business hours, use the copier for resumes and cover letters, or use the Internet to search for and apply to other positions.

There’s a difference between learning to see the signs and turning yourself into a paranoid, big-brother type of small business owner. One is a waste of your time, but the other prepares you for major changes, giving you the chance to take them in stride and keep your business flowing smoothly.

What should you do if you see signs that an employee is quitting? Prepare! Update the employee’s job description so it’s ready to post as soon as things are official, and reorganize job responsibilities for your team so nothing falls through the cracks during transition.