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Houston expert: Recognizing the warning signs of employee turnover

This Houston expert shares what could be some red flags indicative of possible employee turnover. Photo via Getty Images

Although managing employee turnover is one critical element of operating a successful business, the "Great Resignation" has created mayhem in the workplace, as employers struggle with a staggering number of employee resignations and the difficulties associated with filling open positions.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a total of 15.5 million workers quit their jobs during a four-month period, April to July in 2021.

One way for employers to be proactive and help combat employee turnover is to be aware of the warning signs. If employers can address situations before it is too late, they have a greater chance of retaining top talent, along with the institutional knowledge employees possess.

Some of the red flags indicative of possible employee turnover are discussed below.

Exhibiting low engagement levels

Employees' level of engagement can indicate whether they are connected to the company and its mission or might be planning to leave the organization. When employees stop committing to long-term projects, fail to contribute during team meetings or seem disinterested in career advancement opportunities, they are displaying low engagement levels and could signal an impending resignation. A lack of enthusiasm, doing just enough to get by and appearing to be checked out can mean their loyalties lie elsewhere and they are just counting the days until their exit.

Elevating professional brand

When employees become more active on social media, especially LinkedIn, they might be elevating their professional brand in order to secure new career opportunities. Although updating their profile, making new connections and posting thought-leadership articles might be part of a push to boost their presence on social media platforms, it could easily be an indicator they are trying to grab the attention of recruiters and industry competitors. In addition, if employees suddenly start volunteering to attend industry conferences/conventions, they might be trying to identify new employers in the field and establish those relationships for the future.

Decreasing productivity

A decrease in productivity from top performers is a telltale sign that the end is near. When employees who were typically counted upon to produce at high levels suddenly have a decline in output and quality, such as failing to meet goals, missing deadlines and making more mistakes, this can mean they are no longer invested in the company. This productivity risk can have a negative impact on the company and its external relationships.

Requesting more time off

If employees start requesting more time off or call in sick frequently, they may be using the time to interview for other positions outside of the company. In addition, coming in late, leaving early and dressing better can also be signs of external meetings with potential employers. When employees stray from their normal routines and seem to spend less time concerned about how they are viewed by their existing employer, their eyes are on a bigger prize.

Displaying negative behaviors

There is nothing more damaging to a company than employees who display negative behavior. This not only has an impact on co-workers and overall employee morale, but it can also affect the company's reputation with clients and vendors. When emails and phone calls are not returned, employees fail to participate during meetings, dissatisfaction about their job is expressed and there is a general lack of respect for management and supervisors, the odds of them leaving the company are great. Unfortunately, when situations reach this degree, they may be unsalvageable and in the company's best interest to move forward without these employees.

Trusting a bad feeling

Many successful business leaders know the standard behaviors, habits and career goals of their top performers, so they should be in tune with what is going on in their professional lives. However, there are times when something just doesn't feel right – a gut feeling – when employees don't appear to be themselves. They may seem disorganized, withdrawn or disappointed for some reason, which leaders should quickly investigate. Getting to the heart of the matter and taking action can reverse the course and lead to more engaged and loyal employees.

Of course, it is always best to retain employees both from a cost and skills perspective because turnover is expensive with regard to attracting, hiring, onboarding, training and replacing the knowledge drain with new employees. When valued employees exhibit the warning signs, it behooves employers to take some extra steps to address the situation and convince workers to remain with the company.

For example, have one-on-one conversations to determine the reasons why employees want to leave and request input from them about ways to resolve the situation before it is too late. However, in an effort to help avoid employee turnover in the future, open and honest communications should occur on a frequent basis to establish strong relationships between employers and employees, which results in a more connected and engaged workforce.

While the business landscape has shifted from an employer- to employee-driven workforce that is dictated by employee needs, leaders should be extremely cognizant of the warning signs of employee turnover, keeping them on their radar during daily interactions with employees. Sometimes, all it takes is employee recognition and thoughtful conversations that demonstrate employers care and have compassion toward employees, which can turn potential resignations into long-term dedication to a company and its mission.

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Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant with Insperity,a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

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Building Houston

 
 

Kelly Avant, investment associate at Houston-based Mercury Fund, shares how and why she made her way into the venture capital arena. Photo courtesy of Mercury

Kelly Avant didn't exactly pave a linear career path for herself. After majoring in gender studies, volunteering in the Peace Corps, and even attending law school — she identified a way to make a bigger impact: venture capital.

"VC is an awesome way to shape the future in a more positive way because you literally get to wire money to the most innovative thinkers, who are building solutions to the world’s problems," Avant tells InnovationMap.

Avant joined the Mercury Fund team last year as an MBA associate before joining full time as investment associate. Now, after completing her MBA from Rice University this month, Avant tells InnovationMap why she's excited about this new career in investment in a Q&A.

InnovationMap: From law school and the peace corps, what drew you to start a career in the VC world?

Kelly Avant: I graduated from Rice University with an MBA, starting scouting for an investment firm in my first year, and by the summer after my first year I was essentially working full-time interning with Mercury. But, I like to tell people about my undergraduate degree in gender studies and rhetoric from a little ski college in Colorado. If you meet someone else in venture capital with a degree in gender studies, please connect us, but I think I might be the only one. I’ll spare you what I used to think — and say — about business students, but I have really come full circle.

I always thought I would work in a nonprofit space, but after serving in Cambodia with the Peace Corps, working for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and briefly attending Emory Law School with the intention of becoming a civil rights lawyer.I found that time and time again the root of the problem was a lack of resources. The world’s problems were not going to be solved with my idealism alone.

The problem with operating as a nonprofit in a capitalism is you basically always pandering to the interests of the donors. The NFL was a key sponsor of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The United States has a complicated, to put it lightly, relationship with Cambodia and Vietnam. It became pretty clear that the donor/nonprofit relationship was oftentimes putting the wrong party in the driver’s seat. I was, and still am, very interested in alternative financing for nonprofits. I became convinced that the most exciting businesses were building solutions to the world’s problems while also turning a profit, which allows them to survive to have a sustainable positive impact.

VC is an awesome way to shape the future in a more positive way because you literally get to wire money to the most innovative thinkers, who are building solutions to the world’s problems.

IM: What are some companies you’re excited about?

KA: There are a couple super interesting founders I’ve met directly engaging with . To name a few: CiviTech, DonateStock, and Polco.

I’m very proud to work on mercury investments like Houston’s own, Topl, which has built an extremely lightweight and energy efficient Blockchain that enables tracking of ethical supply chains from the initial interaction.
I’m also excited about mercury’s investment in Zirtue, which enables relationship based peer to peer lending to solve the massive problem of predatory payday loans.

We have so many awesome founders in our portfolio. The best part about working in VC is meeting passionate innovators every day. I get excited to go to work everyday and help them to build better solutions.

IM: Why are you so passionate about bringing diversity and inclusion into Mercury?

KA: I love working with exciting, highly capable, super smart people. That category includes so many people who have been historically excluded. As an investment team member at Mercury, I do have a voice, and I have an obligation to use that voice to speak highly of the best people in rooms of influence.

IM: With your new role, what are you most focused on?

KA: In my new role, I am identifying and researching high potential investments. We’re building out a Mercury educational series to lift the veil of VC. We want to facilitate a series that gives all founders the basic skills to pass VC due diligence and have the opportunity to build the next innovative companies. My goal is ultimately to produce the best returns possible for our investors, and we can’t accomplish that goal unless we’re building out resources to meet the best founders and help them grow.

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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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