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


Kayla MatthewsOwner of Productivity Bytes

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

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.

Article 6 Minutes
What Are Flight-Risk Employees and How Do You Spot

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's 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.

What makes an employee a flight risk?

Lack of career development opportunities

A lack of career development opportunities within an organization can significantly contribute to employees becoming flight risks. When companies fail to invest in the growth and advancement of their workforce, it often results in disengaged employees who feel undervalued and unappreciated. This lack of employee engagement can lead employees to seek job opportunities elsewhere, where they believe their career goals will be better supported and nurtured.

By not addressing the professional needs and aspirations of their staff, organizations risk losing valuable talent and experience, which can ultimately impact overall productivity and success. Employers must recognize the importance of providing continuous learning and development opportunities to foster engagement and retain top talent.

Lack of work flexibility

Not having enough work schedule flexibility can significantly contribute to an employee becoming a flight risk, as they may be enticed by the promise of greener pastures that offer a better work-life balance. In today's fast-paced world, employees increasingly value the ability to maintain equilibrium between their personal and professional lives, and rigid work schedules often hinder this pursuit. When an organization fails to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of its workforce, it may experience a decline in employee satisfaction, leading staff to seek out more flexible opportunities elsewhere.

Managers and leaders that don't inspire employees

Uncaring and uninspiring leadership teams can significantly contribute to making an employee a flight risk in any organization. When leaders fail to demonstrate empathy, support and motivation, it directly impacts team morale and team dynamics, leaving employees feeling undervalued and disengaged. Employees crave a work environment where they are encouraged to grow and feel a sense of belonging.

Poor compensation

Inadequate compensation is a significant factor that can make individual employees a flight risk, potentially leading to high turnover rates within a company. When employees feel that their salary and benefits package do not match their skillset and the value they bring to the organization, their motivation to stay committed and loyal to the company wanes.

A lack of meaningful work

A lack of meaningful work can significantly impact an employee's engagement and satisfaction, making them a flight risk, especially in today's competitive job market. Remote employees, in particular, may feel disconnected from the company's mission and struggle to see the value of their contributions. This can lead to a decline in motivation and commitment, which ultimately drives them to seek career growth and development elsewhere.

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's 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.

Learn more: 12 Crucial Metrics to Measure Employee Experience

4. Feeling stuck in their job

One of the main reasons employees quit their jobs is the 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 company 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.

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a Pittsburgh-based journalist who writes about technology and professional productivity. She is also a Senior writer for MakeUseOf, and the 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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12/11/2019 transportation risk management
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27/12/2019 james robertson
hi thanks for the information and posts :)