The 13 untold signs a colleague is about to quit their job.

If you work in a company with a high turnover rate, you may think you’re privy to some of the seemingly more obvious behavioural changes that occur when a colleague may be about to quit their job.

We’ve all been there: you have to wear interview appropriate clothing to work, you put more effort into your hair, and suddenly you have a mysterious number of doctors appointments or long lunches, right?


In a more scientific approach, Harvard Business Review conducted a study in which they honed 900 “tells,” derived from interviews with nearly 200 bosses and employees, down to a concise 13 clues. These clues were found to have far more indication towards an employee’s career inclination.

The tells included:

1. Their work productivity has decreased more than usual.

2. They have acted less like a team player than usual.

3. They have been doing the minimum amount of work more frequently than usual.

4. They have been less interested in pleasing their manager than usual.

5. They have been less willing to commit to long-term timelines than usual.

6. They have exhibited a negative change in attitude.

7. They have exhibited less effort and work motivation than usual.

8. They have exhibited less focus on job-related matters than usual.

9. They have expressed dissatisfaction with their current job more frequently than usual.

10. They have expressed dissatisfaction with their supervisor more frequently than usual.

11. They have left early from work more frequently than usual.

12. They have lost enthusiasm for the mission of the organisation.

13. They have shown less interest in working with customers than usual.


The article elaborated on their findings:

“The basic tenet of managing turnover is that everyone eventually leaves. But the “when” can feel like a mystery.”

“While our research shouldn’t be considered the only way to identify an employee on the verge of quitting, it does point to a set of behaviors that, taken together, can provide a clue—and it discounts behaviors that have mistakenly been seen as tells.”


From what we can gather, it seems as though the biggest indication that a colleague may be flying the coop is that they become…worse…at their jobs.
Which ultimately means it’s probably a good thing they’re leaving.
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