How to Spot a Flight Risk Employee

Frustrated employee

Employee retention must be a priority for all businesses. On the workers’ side, your efforts here help to ensure they get to develop their skills to the full and enjoy positive workplace experiences. At the same time, it means your business minimizes any unnecessary capital expenditure, bolsters productivity, and potentially benefits from innovations.

Being vigilant for the signs of flight risk employees must be a part of your retention strategy. This refers to workers that are likely to quit prematurely. It might seem as though looking for warning signs in every employee might be a burden. Nevertheless, this kind of individualized attention not only mitigates dysfunctional turnover, but it can also boost worker engagement in general.

Let’s take a closer look at how to spot a flight risk employee and how you can effectively respond.

Increased Disengagement

One of the key influencers of flight risk is disengagement. When your employees no longer feel connected to their role or with the business, they’re often less motivated to be as productive, creative, or positive. If disengagement sets in, this is often a precursor to an employee looking for alternative employment and resigning from the company. 

It’s important to remember, though, that the signs of disengagement can be varied and sometimes quite subtle. Indeed, unless there has been a drastic change in the workplace, the symptoms may gradually increase over time. Often, workers move through a timeline of engagement, to not being fully engaged, to active disengagement. 

Your company’s management needs to be vigilant of growing underperformance of their team members and shifts in their willingness to collaborate with their colleagues that suggest the early stages of not being fully engaged. Your human resources (HR) department also needs to be proactive in recognizing new demonstrations of toxic behavior and the adoption of negative attitudes that suggest active disengagement is underway.

There can, of course, be many reasons for increased disengagement that can lead to employees becoming flight risks. Identifying these individual and systemic influencers is vital to mitigating the most negative outcomes. Issuing employee engagement surveys can help you better understand where any wider issues may lie. Similarly, open anonymous feedback channels can empower workers to alert you about rising issues. It’s also vital for direct line managers to maintain conversations surrounding engagement during regular 1-to-1 meetings.

Lack of Social Support

Another key indicator of a flight risk employee is a reduction or lack of social support in the workplace. By social support, we’re referring to the positive social relationships colleagues build with one another in the workplace. When employees forge and maintain these strong bonds, they tend to have a greater level of mutual support that helps them navigate difficult and stressful experiences in their work and personal lives. Without this in place, however, employees have a less positive experience of the workplace, This behavior makes them a flight risk.

There are various reasons this lack of social support can occur that businesses should be on the lookout for. In some companies, there simply isn’t a cultural emphasis on ensuring workers create strong bonds with each other through projects, team-building exercises, and external activities. It can also be the result of employees joining a well-established team and struggling to find their place within it. If there has also been a lot of recent turnover within a team, long-term workers may experience a loss of the social support system they have previously relied upon.

This is why it is so important for businesses to ensure the company is built on a strong culture of belonging. When there is an emphasis on inclusion, workers tend to feel more welcome and supported in the workplace. Wherever possible, you must encourage cross-departmental connections. This means workers aren’t only gaining support from within their own teams. These efforts also need to be in place from onboarding onward to ensure no employees feel excluded and are able to build the social support networks they need to stay engaged with the business.

Truncated Development

When a business invests in its workers’ learning and progression, this sends a distinct message about the value its leaders place in employees. A good development momentum also helps workers to feel as though they are able to grow with the business and continue to have a positive impact. When development is too slow or becomes truncated, employees’ experience can also decline. The result is they can become a flight risk.

Spotting risky truncated development among employees tends to be the responsibility of direct managers and HR professionals. They must be vigilant of how each worker is building their skill sets both independently and within the structure of the company development program. There should also be attention placed on how willing workers are to push to be involved in projects and opportunities that can help them grow and progress. It’s also important to watch for whether some team managers may be excluding employees from opportunities in a way that causes these team members to become disengaged from development.  

Often, your most powerful tool in reducing this flight risk is to frequently communicate with workers about their development goals. Be active in providing learning resources and keeping employees abreast of project opportunities that fit into their career interests. Even when employees have ambitions beyond the company, it’s wise to find ways in which your business can help them to grow in those directions. This approach tends to keep workers engaged with your company for longer and also ensures your business benefits from strong and diverse skill sets.

Change in Lifestyle

Occasionally, there will be times when a flight risk arises due to factors that are external to your business. When employees experience a significant change in lifestyle or want to make changes, this may be a sign they may need or want to resign. These may be changes that mean they need to spend more time with their children or with vulnerable family members. It could be health concerns that could involve frequent absence. Some employees might express the desire to return to full-time education.

Naturally, your company has no real control over such lifestyle changes. Nevertheless, your best tool for mitigating any mutually negative impact is to provide support wherever possible. This could involve offering a more flexible schedule or access to subsidized child care. As with other flight risk issues, make sure you encourage an open dialogue with these workers. Making efforts to regularly check-in can show employees you value them and are keen to help wherever possible. If these workers do need to end their employment, this approach also gives you sufficient notice to prepare any recruitment efforts.

Wrapping Up

Spotting flight risk employees often comes down to understanding the common root causes of premature resignation. Be on the lookout for signs of disengagement, gaps in social support, truncated development progress, and lifestyle changes. Importantly, you must be active in minimizing the potential for such issues to arise in the first place. Above all else, though, keeping a positive and open dialogue with workers provides you with valuable insights as well as helping employees themselves to feel valued.