5 Signs an Employee is Cheating on You

The association between employer and employee is a relationship. Just as fidelity is crucial in a romantic endeavor, it is also expected in this kind of civil union. However, there are times when employees begin to stray. Their eyes look for a more desirable partner or greener pastures. They wonder if they are missing something by being tied to their company. Under these circumstances they listen to the siren songs of potential suitors. They hope to catch the glance of another company and may linger too long fantasizing about another organization.

Although most employers are at will, which means each party can terminate the arrangement at any time, they still become upset if their employees openly look for another job. Additionally, they are jealous if someone begins courting their employees. Look at the actions of management when they lose too many employees to the same organization. In one case a CEO called the CEO of the offending company and discussed ethical violations for raiding their top talent. They did very little to please their employees, yet became threatened and irritated when they started losing people. The offending CEO basically told him to look in the mirror. “If your people were happy and felt they had ample career opportunities they would not leave.”

When an employee tenders their resignation, employees are sometimes surprised. When they looked back over the past few months they admit there were signs that they did not take seriously. In retrospect they say, “I should have known or I should have seen it coming.”

How can you tell when an employee may resign?

  • If there is a new stud organization in town or on the market, expect midnight raids into your camp
  • If employee surveys indicate dissatisfaction among your team members, which is evident in low engagement scores, etc.
  • The industry is exploding and the number of qualified applicants is low
  •  You have a plethora of top talent, and not enough promotions to please everyone

Some of the standard signs that your employees are mentally cheating on you or straying away from the company are listed below. 

1.  A break in their usual routine

They start taking long lunches out of the building when they always brought or purchased their meals on site. They dress up for work in business attire or look better than usual. You may even notice a new hair style or haircuts more than usual.

Interviewing takes time. Many employees will take vacation days to interview with other companies. However, some people take long lunches to achieve this objective. A tell-tale sign that someone is looking or considering leaving is using most of their vacation time in the early part of the year. Some workers clean up their office and their files. Their office looks like spring cleaning has arrived with the reduced number of pictures and artifacts.

2.  Increase in telephone calls

They seem to have more personal telephone calls through their direct line or their cellular phone. The volume on these conversations is lower than their normal speaking voice.

Recruiters are aware of top talent and will flood their phones with telephone calls to assess a person’s interest in an alleged phenomenal job opportunity. They also follow-up the interviews with calls and e-mail messages to monitor progress. Periodically, it makes sense as a highly enlightened manager, to talk about your observations with the employee. Tell them about the calls you receive as a manager and ask how they handle the calls they get. Assume they are getting telephone calls. If they are worth their weight in gold, someone is talking to them. Discuss your philosophy about recruiter calls. Reassure the person of your interest in their career and your commitment to develop them. Let your employee know how you value them and their contributions. Remind them that recruiters are sales people and many are more committed to their own families. A recruiter may not be objective when they sell a certain opportunity as being the best thing in the world for their potential client.

3.  Increase in the number of sick days

For a person who is really ill, they suddenly have a rash of colds or personal family emergencies. These illnesses do not take much time away from the office. They fall into the category of the 24 hour variety which brings them back to work quickly, so as to avoid suspicion.

Interviewing time causes people to take sanctioned sick days to look for a job. If the manager shows genuine concern for their health may shame some people into taking vacation days over sick days to interview. Technically speaking, taking sick days to interview is a violation of company policies and could place the employee at risk if they are discovered.

4.  Discontent with company policies

The employee begins to challenge company policies and procedures or questions them more than in the past. They seem anxious and combative. They also may have problems with their peers which was seldom an issue.

Individuals may have a hard time leaving a company that has been good to them. People rationalize their actions / behavior by finding fault in their current organization. Policies and procedures that were never a problem become a major concern or nuisance. This may be indicative of their internal struggle. Immediately recognize the change in conduct and ask if everything is alright. You want to get to the bottom of any grievance.

5.  Change in work performance

There is a change in the employees work performance. The quality may increase significantly or experience a precipitous drop. The increase can be used to throw you off the path that they are looking for another job. They may also use their best performance to show the company they are giving their best and not cheating them with substandard effort and results. A close evaluation would cause one to question why they were not giving this top flight performance all along.

Conversely, some people whip themselves into a frenzy of negative attitude. They feel as if the company has taken advantage of them. The recruiter convinced them they are underpaid and underappreciated and now they will underperform.  The constant negative messages cause them to reduce their effort to what they perceive to be acceptable levels to match their pay scale.

There will always be employee turnover. There are benefits and down sides of every resignation. However, treating your employees properly and being aware of signs of discontent or outward mobility could make a difference in retaining the employees you want to keep. This could reduce employee cheating or make you aware of it, so you are not surprised by an unwanted resignation. 

Copyright © 2012 Orlando Ceaser

2 thoughts on “5 Signs an Employee is Cheating on You

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