Episode #150 – How to Tell if an Animal Health or Veterinary Employee is About to Quit

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #150 - How to Tell if an Animal Health or Veterinary Employee is About to Quit
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast,  executive recruiter and veterinary recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast episode, we’ll be talking about how to tell if an employee is about to quit. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here.

Julea: Stacy, can you talk a little bit about why this topic is so important for employers?

Stacy: I certainly can. Qualified candidates are scarce in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession right now, and top talent is even more difficult to find. This is especially the case in the Veterinary profession, where the unemployment rate has been hovering right around 1%  for well over a year now. Because of this, top talent has become incredibly valuable. As a result, retention has become a huge issue during the past several years.

Julea: And when you say retention, you mean employers keeping their best employees, is that right Stacy?

Stacy: Correct. Retention is vitally important right now. It’s difficult to find and hire top talent, so if you’re an employer and you already have top talent, you have to do everything you can to retain that talent. Because if those employees leave, then you’re basically starting at “square one,” and that’s not somewhere you want to be.

That’s why we’re addressing this topic today. Because if you’re going to retain your best people as an employer, then you have to know the warning signs that someone is about to leave. Or even that they’re thinking about leaving. Because you don’t even want them to be thinking about it.

Julea: So these warning signs that we’ll be talking about today, do they indicate whether or not an employee is just thinking about leaving or that they’ve already taken steps in that direction?

Stacy: Unfortunately, they don’t indicate how far on the way out the employee is. They could be just thinking about leaving or they could already be going on interviews with other employers. That’s why it’s important for those in leadership positions at Animal Health Companies or Veterinary practices to take swift and immediate action if they notice any of these warning signs with their current employees. If they don’t, then they increase the risk that those employees are going to leave for other opportunities.

Julea: So what are these warning signs?

Stacy: Good question. The number-one warning sign is a loss of engagement on the part of the employee. This means they are less engaged in their position and with those around them. This loss of engagement can manifest itself in a number of different ways.

Julea: Which ways are those Stacy? Tell us more.

Stacy: The first is the employee isolating themselves from their co-workers. For example, if you have an employee who is almost always social and outgoing, and then they all of a sudden stop being social and outgoing, then they could be thinking about leaving. They could already be planning to leave.

The second way is that the employee simply stops communicating as much or as well with other people. They give short answers to questions or they don’t offer a lot of information. They’re also more difficult to contact, and when you do contact them or leave a message for them, they don’t get back right away.

The third way involves how the employee acts and interacts during meetings. Once again, if they go from being outgoing and interactive to being quiet and withdrawn during these meetings, then you could have a problem on your hands.

The fourth way involves the employee and personal development and training within the organization. Top employees are always looking for new ways to become better and improve. If you have an employee who was like that, but is no longer pursuing personal development through training offered by the organization, then that employee could already have one foot out the door.

Julea: Stacy, what about negative behavior? Will someone who is thinking about leaving engage in that kind of behavior or complain about things?

Stacy: That’s a great question. Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward. That’s because it all depends upon the employee involved. For some employees, if something is bothering them, they’ll complain about it in an attempt to fix the situation. However, if they come to the realization that the situation will never be fixed, then they’ll stop pointing it and instead simply look for a new job. For that employee, the fact that they’re not complaining at all could be a warning sign that they’re about to leave.

For other employees, though, they might complain about something and then complain about it even more, all the way up until the day they submit their notice. Still other employees may not complain at all, no matter the circumstances. In the case of those employees, there’s no way of telling for certain if they’re thinking about leaving, at least not in terms of how often they complain.

Julea: Wow, I can see why the answer isn’t straightforward. I guess it all comes down to how well the manager knows their employees.

Stacy: Yes, that is definitely the case.

Julea: Stacy, I have another question. What about a decline in performance? Is that a warning sign that an employee is about to leave?

Stacy: It could be a sign, but then again, it might not. Once again, it depends upon the circumstances surrounding each situation. An employee whose performance is declining could simply be dealing with personal issues. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re thinking about leaving. However, an employee whose performance is declining does raise a red flag, regardless of the reason why. As a result, the situation should be explored and questions should be asked, with an emphasis on finding out what is happening and helping the employee to reach their previous levels of performance and productivity.

Julea: Okay, that makes sense Stacy. What’s another warning sign that an employee is about to leave?

Stacy: If an employee shies away from long-term projects, it could also be a warning sign. And of course, they reason they’re shying away from these projects is that they don’t expect to still be working at the organization by the time the project’s due date rolls around. Or at the very least, they hope to not be working at the organization by the project’s due date.

Julea: Stacy, isn’t one of the classic signs that someone is thinking about leaving their employer a lot of absences? Doesn’t that mean the person is going on interviews?

Stacy: That’s another great questions, and yes, that can mean the person is going on interviews. However, it does not mean that 100% of the time. Once again, there could be other reasons that someone is absent from work or taking personal days. However, if someone is absent a lot and they’re also exhibiting one of the other warning signs on this list, then that should be especially alarming for managers.

Julea: Stacy, is that how employers should view these warning signs? That one is bad enough, but if an employee is exhibiting two or more, then chances are good that they’re thinking about leaving?

Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly how employers should view these warning signs. The more signs that an employee is exhibiting, the more likely it is that the employee is thinking about leaving. Or has already started the process of leaving.

Julea: What can Animal Health companies and Veterinary practices do to stop their top employees from leaving?

Stacy: There are many things that animal health companies and veterinary practices can do to better engage and retain their top performers. In fact, we’ve addressed the topic of retention before, specifically in podcast episode #20, which is titled “Simple Steps for Retaining Your Best Employees.” The overriding key when it comes to retention is to be proactive. If you’re reactive, then it’s already too late. Once your employees have already made up their minds to leave, and it will be difficult to change their minds.

Julea: Stacy, You have given our listeners much to think about and thank you for all of this great information today. We encourage our listeners to check out podcast episode #20 for more information about retention. I want to point out that Stacy is a Certified Employment Retention Specialist and there only about 30 something of them in the country. Stacy knows her stuff.  Hiring managers if you have a critical position open reach out to Stacy to talk with her about how she can help you.

And for those people who are considering a job change, we have a number of  jobs posted to The VET Recruiter website, so be sure to check them out. You can also visit The VET Recruiter website to sign up for our newsletter that we send out twice a month. Our newsletter is full of hiring advice and career advice for Animal Health and Veterinary professionals.

Once again, the website address for The VET Recruiter is www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy:, It has been my pleasure Julea and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health Employment Insider!