Six signs to spot a flight risk employee

Around one in three UK employees are considered a “flight risk” – either looking for new work, or open to new work. Here are six signs to help you spot them.

Abbi Melville • 
Six signs to spot a flight risk employee

If you hire more than three people, then some of them are probably considered a “flight risk”. And that’s because studies suggest that up to 1 in 3 UK employees could be considered flight risk employees.

Not everybody is an “active” flight risk, of course. Some of them are actively looking for other opportunities, whereas others are simply “open” to other opportunities.

But a flight risk is a flight risk – and turnover is bloody expensive. So we thought we’d put together a bit of advice to help you spot which employees might be at most risk of quitting your organisation.

1. They are absent more often

Not everybody who takes sick leave or books additional time off is a flight risk employee. But this can be one of the signs that a person has become disengaged with their job, and is maybe considering employment elsewhere. So if you have employees with an unexpected increase in their absence rates, you may wish to look at their circumstances to see if there’s anything you can do to make their life at work a little more rewarding.

2. They lack motivation

People who are thinking of leaving a company rarely have the same motivation or drive as those who are actively engaged with their careers. If you notice an unexpected decline in motivation levels, then it may be a sign that they don’t like their situation and are considering alternatives.

3. They only do the bare minimum

When a person has decided they’ve had enough with a company, they tend to stop going “above and beyond”, and only doing what is strictly required of them as per their job description. If you notice that a person is refusing new projects, doing as little as they can get away with, or simply stopping short of excellence for no good reason, then this might be a sign that they are a flight risk employee.

4. They have a big event happening in their personal life

When big things change in our personal lives, it often leads to changes in our professional lives. Whether that’s something that makes a job difficult from a psychological perspective, such as a tough break-up, or whether it’s something that simply puts geographical obstacles in the way, like a long-distance house move. Keep an eye out for big changes in people’s lives, and consider whether these changes could increase the risk that they may soon be looking for employment elsewhere.

5. They struggle to hit deadlines

When motivation drops, or a person simply doesn’t care about consequences, you can find that deadlines become almost optional. If a previously punctual person can no longer seem to meet their usual deadlines, this may be a sign that something is wrong.

6. They are not engaged in personal development

If one of your employees seems to take no interest in furthering their career – such as refusing optional training courses that could improve their situation, or turning down promotion opportunities, then there’s a chance that it means they’re preparing to permanently disconnect.

Not everything is a flight risk

None of the signs above necessarily mean that an employee is a flight risk who may soon leave your organisation. For example, people who are taking more time off, may just be sick – and you may wish to check in and see if there’s anything you can do to support them. And people who are de-motivated may simply be having a rough time at home – again, a wellbeing check-in could be helpful here.

But it is still useful to look out for the signs, as flight risk or not, you may be able to step in and offer support.

Oh, and instead of trying to identify individual flight risks? You might do better to simply make improvements to your workplace, and ensuring that your employees have a good wage, an engaging environment, and a strong support network – because if you do this right, you’ll beat the odds and reduce the flight risk across the entire company.