What Are Flight-Risk Employees and How Do You Spot Them?

Kayla Matthews

Kayla MatthewsOwner of Productivity Bytes

Friday, October 5, 2018

Employees that are a flight-risk can be detrimental to the health of your business, causing higher costs in recruitment and wider disruption. Being able to spot them early and prevent them from leaving is crucial.

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When you make a hiring decision for your business, you likely want to form a long-term relationship with your new employee. Recruiting and hiring are expensive processes, so it's in every business' best interest to retain valued team members for as long as possible. However, successful employee retention requires you to identify flight-risk employees and take steps to address their concerns before you start losing your workers.

What are flight-risk employees?

Flight-risk employees are the workers at your company who are most likely to quit their jobs and seek positions elsewhere. Though many employees consider leaving their jobs for plenty of unavoidable reasons, there are also environmental and circumstantial factors that drive people to quit.

As with high-risk, violent employees, failing to recognize flight-risk employees can cause your business to suffer. A successful business starts with the work of successful, motivated and satisfied employees, so losing them decreases productivity, at least temporarily. Furthermore, a large-scale exodus of employees could signify something seriously wrong with your corporate structure.

The more valuable employees leave your company, the harder — and more expensive — recruiting for your business becomes. To prevent losses and ensure a happy and productive workforce, you need to identify flight-risk employees early.

How to spot employees at risk of leaving

The best way to identify flight risks is to maintain close relationships with your employees. By getting to know the people who work for you, and by listening closely to their personal and professional concerns, you can recognize when someone is dissatisfied at work and take steps to solve the problem before they leave.

Because some types of employees are at higher risk of leaving, you can take preventive measures to retain them. Here are four warning signs to look for when trying to spot flight-risk employees.

1. A sudden change in work habits

A change in an employee's work habits can indicate they no longer feel motivated in their position. If you notice a worker who usually has productive work habits starting to lag behind, take notice. Ask the employee if everything is alright, and if there is anything your company can do to help them work better.

2. Going through a major life change

Employees in the middle of a big life change are more likely to leave their jobs as they re-evaluate the role of your company in their life. Events like a wedding, divorce, birth or death of a loved one all put an employee at greater risk of leaving. If you learn an employee is going through a significant life change, be proactive and help make things easier for them. Offering flexible scheduling or more time off can be the difference between a great employee and a lost one.

3. Increased negativity

Increased negativity about the company or job can indicate a flight risk. Dissatisfaction, whether with the direction of the company, the salary or another factor, can drag a whole company down, so it's important to address this problem as soon as you notice it. Consult with the employee or use surveys to uncover the root of the dissatisfaction. If the attitude problem is the result of something you can't control, consider whether you want to retain the employee at all.

4. Feeling stuck in their job

One of the main reasons employees quit their jobs is a feeling of being stuck. If you have an employee who has been doing the same job for years without opportunity for advancement, they are a likely flight risk. To retain these employees, create progression paths for all positions in your company, open new challenges for older employees and offer opportunities for continued learning.

What should you do to retain employees?

To keep your business thriving, you need to know how to retain your most valued employees. Though in the short term, you can take steps to retain employees already at risk of leaving, in the long term, your company can make adjustments to foster longer relationships by creating a positive workplace culture, communicating clearly and offering competitive pay and benefits.

Though working to increase employee retention can seem like a substantial investment, you'll see the rewards through savings and increased productivity that will undoubtedly be worth it for your company.

Author: Kayla Matthews is a Pittsburgh-based journalist who writes about technology and professional productivity. She is also a Senior writer for MakeUseOf and owner of the tech productivity blog, Productivity Bytes. You can find her work on publications such as Digital Trends, Data Center Journal, Mobile Marketer and more.

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