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: Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training firm devoted to developing leaders to produce greater professional and personal results.

Is stress causing them to start stepping away…from your company?

“31% of employees are not satisfied with their jobs” – Forbes

Hmmm… If Forbes tells us “31% of employees are not satisfied with their jobs”, the obvious question is how long do workers stay dissatisfied before they leave? In addition, how much stress does this dissatisfaction create and are there stress related signs that we can see that might tell us they’re about to leave? Yes, in fact, there are at least three biggees and a few more to keep an eye on.

Mixed Messages

Employees are creating a new trend and problem for employers. They value job security now more than feeling valued. What this means is they are feeling dissatisfied, but continuing to stay for the pay. That might explain the mixed messages you are seeing if an employee is productive one day and the leader of the upcoming employee uprising the next. These mixed messages are one clear sign that this employee is on their way out or at a minimum is about to mentally quit, but never leave the building.

Chatty Cathy Goes Quiet

Last week I was interviewed by US News and World Report on Signs an Employee Might See Before They Get Fired. (Here’s the link to that entire article.) The same signs that we tell employees to look for, apply to bosses. If a boss stops socializing with one employee it might mean they are creating distance in the relationship knowing they will soon need to deliver bad news. The converse is also true. If Chatty Cathy stops telling you about her weekend and becomes quiet, it’s a sure sign of an overly stressed extrovert who is shutting down and shutting you out.

Nothing Works

In our effort to become better leaders, we’re always trying new things to motivate the same people. We implement reward programs, training and development offerings, incentives, healthcare additions…er…well, scratch that, and maybe even changes to working environments (like working from home) that help employees. But, in all those gyrations to keep employees happy, loyal and productive, sometimes it feels like nothing is working. Employee dissatisfaction is now being tied to the simple fear that they might lose their job and in light of the fact that Employers still have a business to run, but realize that employees are stressed, often over worked, and doing more with less, this brings us to the proverbial…”Houston, we have a problem”. If nothing is working and employees are telling you this by showing higher rates of attitude problems, acting out in behavioral issues, getting lower scores on performance evals, and creating longer queues outside HR, putting your head in the sand is NOT the plan. The very constant complaining from employees that you might be complaining ABOUT is in fact a sign that you’re going in the wrong direction or maybe have missed a trend or two and that employees are trying to find a way to leave. Towers Watson, a global company known for helping organizations with their people, risk, and financial management produced an extraordinary report that shows these new trends and how you can more effectively keep employees happy. (I snagged a copy of the Towers Watson Report for you here.)

If those three signs are present in your office then you might want to increase your recruiting efforts. These signs are nothing more than what the many people who report to you, DO when under stress and these signs are showing you their dissatisfaction and potential impending departure. Other signs you’ll see include increased controlling behavior, aggression, drama queen tendencies, passive aggressive communication and overt perfectionism or the inability to make decisions. Now, not all of these signs will indicate that the employee is about to leave and some of them might be reason enough for you to want them to go, but if these stress induced reactions and signs are present, be on the look out for employees to either mentally quit and forget to tell you or leave outright. It may not be a pretty picture, but its certainly one you, as the leader, can do something about.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!


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