How You Can Recognise Inner Termination and What You Can Do to Prevent It

It affects almost all industries, not just fashion: Employees* quit – apparently out of the clear blue sky. However, there have usually been warning signals beforehand for a long time. Whoever pays attention to them can possibly change the minds of good employees and persuade them to remain.

An employer rarely likes to accept a surprise termination – above all not when it comes from a good employee because this not only fuels unrest and the rumour mill at the company. One is also suddenly confronted by the necessity of quickly having to find qualified replacements. New employees want to be found, trained, and integrated into the team …

Thus, preventing terminations is among the most important management tasks. As always, information is the foundation of good management. Thus, let’s take a look at some signs which will reveal to you early on if something isn’t quite right in employee behaviour.

Decreasing Satisfaction Becomes Evident

Inner termination is an astoundingly frequent behaviour. Statistics say that almost every fifth employee has already left his workplace mentally and is still only “physically” there. The only question is how long he will still be there physically.

The decision to quit begins silently and gently and usually develops over an extensive period of time. Upon a parallel basis, satisfaction decreases with the situation of having to once again come back to the company each day. Only a few succeed in concealing this, some also quite intentionally convey their dissatisfaction externally.

Inner Termination Can be Contagious

What is dangerous about the inner termination is that it can be contagious because, depending upon the standing of the person at the company, if the person expresses that he is considering leaving the company, this can also cause other employees to consider leaving also.

Particularly problematic: Some employees indeed enter into the state of inner termination, but ultimately never leave, but rather stubbornly stay put for many years in a constant state of dissatisfaction. Thus, ultimately, their negative attitude over an extended period of time can detrimentally affect the team and hurt the working environment.

Promptly Recognising Decreasing Motivation

But how can you now identify the employees wanting to leave before you have the termination on your desk?

A clear signal of this is that a person gradually withdraws from the company’s “community”. This occurs firstly on the informal level. Thus, for example, conversations in the pantry or joint activities after work may be reduced or the respective employee no longer attends Christmas parties or summer festivals.

But also in the collective work, it can be observed if a person seems to have “lost his connection” to the team. During team meetings, the employee rarely provides input and the dedication to his daily work declines overall. A motivated work attitude devolves into a “work-to-rule” situation. The productivity and the quality of the employee’s work decline.

Do Not Overlook the Signs

The situation becomes even more critical if work absences become frequent. At first, this perhaps begins with being only a few minutes late in the mornings or after the lunch break. Then there are also sick days – more frequently than usual.

Even if individual holiday days are repeatedly taken, this can be an alarm signal. It is possible that they are being used for job interviews at other companies. Even the request for an intermediate work testimonial can be suspicious.

Suspicion of Inner Termination – What Can You Still Do?

If you have the suspicion that an employee has quit the job internally, you should not react prematurely. First of all, you should observe the situation for several days. Perhaps, your impression was indeed formed based upon a bad job performance on one single day and has no deeper significance.

However, if this suspicion persists and you would like to retain the employee, you should conduct a discussion in this regard with him. Speak with him upon a one-to-one basis in order to discuss your impressions of the situation with a sufficient timeframe and wait to see how he responds. Do not criticise, but rather be aware that it is possible that he may also criticise your person and/or your management style because dissatisfaction with the management is one of the most frequent reasons for quitting one’s job.

Develop Concrete Recommendations for Retaining the Employee

If you determine that the employee is indeed prepared to “jump ship” and leave the company, ask him what would have to change at the company in order to retain him. Speak openly with him about what requests are unrealistic and what can be discussed.

Thereafter, both parties must assess whether a consensus can be reached in this situation. Oftentimes, after such a candid discussion, many options are conceivable. Perhaps the decision-making flexibility of an employee can be expanded, perhaps the transfer to another division or a team with other employees is attractive, perhaps a higher career step is possible.

Ideally, at this point, a follow-up discussion should be scheduled so that both sides can have a little time to carefully reassess the situation. During the follow-up meeting, the details can then be further refined and/or it can be determined that the change request is too big.

A Termination is Always Also a Form of Feedback

Even if you are not able to retain an employee: Oftentimes, such a discussion provides valuable feedback regarding your own management style. Thus, you will learn what issues you will need to address in order to be able to continue to reduce the causes of employee fluctuation in the future.

Incidentally, a quite frequent cause of subsequent terminations entails the employees’ false expectations when they accepted a new job position. This shows how important it is to already assess the respective employee’s preferred job profile before the hire is made and to reconcile with him what the vacant position can realistically offer – an important cornerstone of responsible recruiting.

Do You Have Any Questions?

I would be glad to support you on issues related to the prevention of inner termination, during the team development and recruitment of new employees who will ideally fit your team. Simply call me – +49 (0) 221 | 16 12 33 – 5 – or send me an e-mail to: The initial consultation is free-of-charge.

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