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Sure sign that someone's about to quit

How can you tell if an employee is about to walk out the door? (Image: Getty)

An old piece of corporate wisdom says it's always cheaper to retain staff rather than recruit new ones. 

But how do managers know which employees are about to depart?

New multinational academic research has picked out one behaviour that is a sure sign a person will be quitting.

A worker will resign one year after they start losing interest in receiving feedback, good or bad, according to the study co-authored by UNSW Business School associate dean Frederik Anseel.

The research analysed 328 new staffers and found a "pattern of events" that lead to staff turnover.

"We found that when seeking feedback from supervisors declined over time, this led to detectable lower levels of organisational commitment," wrote Anseel.

"In turn, this decrease in organisational commitment made people think more about leaving the company and these considerations eventually led to actual higher turnover a year later."

If a staff member starts exhibiting apathy for feedback, Anseel recommends managers try to talk to them on a personal level.

"Make sure they still feel part of the company and try to find out what’s bothering them before it’s too late."

The latest findings come after Anseel's earlier research showed engaged feedback behaviour was an important part of new staffers fitting into the existing team culture.

Regular positive feedback, "transformative" leadership and defined training and performance goals all encouraged a culture of feedback requests, according to the research.

A separate poll earlier this month showed only 13 per cent of employees thought they were fully engaged at work. An HR consulting firm also found tolerating underperformance in others was off-putting for talented new hires.

"There are a lot of reasons for why people might leave a job or get disenchanted, but it often boils back to a culture and a subset of that poor leadership," said career development expert and author of Career Conversations, Greg Smith.

"And when you look at employee experience, it can actually start even before they're hired."

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