13 Things People Do When They’re About to Quit Their Job

Heroes from the movie Independence Day preparing to complete their mission and head home

Heroes from the movie Independence Day preparing to complete their mission and head home | 20th Century Fox

We all lose interest in our jobs for one reason or another. This can lead to job or career changes, job-hopping for a raise or promotion, or simply quitting for the sake of quitting — sometimes, we have the resources to sit out of the labor force for a while and take stock of our options. But when you plan to quit your job, or at least give the idea some serious consideration, it can cause problems with co-workers and managers. For that reason, it can be best to keep our thoughts about quitting to ourselves.

But, much like a game of Texas Hold’em, our body language and behavior can betray us. That is, we might be translating our intentions to our colleagues and superiors, potentially causing problems and throwing a wrench in our exit strategies.

A new study, published in the Journal of Management by researchers from Utah State, Florida State, and Arizona State Universities has identified 13 specific “pre-quitting behaviors” that can communicate your desire to quit before you’re ready to pull the trigger. The researchers followed up with an explanatory article in Harvard Business Review, telling how they “edited and pruned the list of 900+ behaviors” to end up with 13.

If you plan to quit your job, or are giving the idea some thought, check out the list and see if you’re telegraphing your next move before you’re ready.

1. Productivity is down

A worker slogging through it at a sewing machine

A worker slogging through it at a sewing machine | Alex Grimm/Getty Images

The first signal that something is up? Lower productivity. If you’ve lost interest in your job, you’re probably not going to be operating at full capacity. Your mind wanders, and you start taking longer breaks. As a result, productivity dips.

2. No longer a team player

A happy team of nurses -- none of which are planning on quitting

A happy team of nurses — none of which are planning on quitting | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Your teammates rely on you, and if your enthusiasm and productivity are waning, those teammates are going to notice — because it impacts them directly. These are the people who are probably going to pick up on the fact that you’re thinking of quitting before management.

3. Minimum effort

Laziness -- another signal that you plan to quit your job

Laziness — another signal that you plan to quit your job | iStock.com

Along with less productivity comes less effort. If you’re thinking about quitting your job, you’ll probably do the minimum necessary to avoid getting fired — until you can quit on your own terms. Laziness and apathy also play a role.

4. No interest in impressing the boss

Employees mingle with their manager

Employees mingle with their manager | John Moore/Getty Images

If your productivity and effort are consciously taking a dip, you probably don’t care all that much about impressing your boss anymore. Another tell that you’re planning to quit your job? Lack of concern in regard to what your boss thinks.

5. Wavering on long-term commitments

business man reading on his mobile phone

Man reading on his mobile phone | iStock.com/imtmphoto

If you’ve ever been through a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the signs are there — and those signs translate into your career. Wavering on commitments, and breaking off dates or meetings? As you might have suspected, something is probably up.

6. Bad attitude

Angry man getting uppity with a coworker

Angry man getting uppity with a coworker | iStock.com

If you’re unhappy at your job, it can be easy to slip into a cycle of negativity. This can cause mood changes and swings, and you may find yourself being a jerk for no reason. This is a big red flag that something is up, and may tip colleagues that you’re on your way out.

7. Less effort and motivation

man sleeping on office desk

Unhappy employee | iStock.com

Naturally, you’ll be less motivated at a job that you no longer care about. If your productivity is slipping, it’s probably tied to your lack of motivation and putting less effort into your work.

8. Focus on the job is waning

A young woman texts on her mobile phone

A young woman texts on her mobile phone | iStock.com

If you find yourself surfing Facebook, Reddit, or simply staring out the window for long stretches during the day, you’re very clearly disconnected and distracted. Your work isn’t holding your attention, and it’s a sign that you’re ready to move on.

9. Dissatisfaction with the job

An overly satisfied employee

An overly satisfied employee | iStock.com

If you can’t tell, all of these signs tend to cascade into one another — and a low level of job satisfaction is yet another symptom that it’s time to move on. If you’re lacking satisfaction from your work, it’s going to become clear to colleagues that you might be planning to quit your job.

10. Expressing dissatisfaction with the boss

Dwight K. Schrute: Manager, Scranton branch

Dwight K. Schrute: Manager, Scranton branch | NBC

Had enough of your manager’s crap? Don’t give a hoot if they’re not particularly stoked with your performance? They can tell that you’re disengaged and likely planning to depart.

11. Leaving early

Young businessman with a briefcase and glasses running

Young businessman with a briefcase and glasses running | iStock.com/master1305

Sneaking out early, or showing up late? It’s yet another sign that you’re detached or detaching, and might be ready to hitch your wagon to another horse.

12. Enthusiasm is down

A man lacking enthusiasm

A man lacking enthusiasm | iStock.com

Of course, enthusiasm will be waning when you’re ready to take your talents “to South Beach,” as Lebron James might say. This is probably the whole reason you’re ready to leave anyway: You’re no longer enthused by your job.

13. Less interest in working with customers

A man smiles while checking out a customer, though he is dead inside

A man smiles while checking out a customer, though he is dead inside | iStock.com

If you’ve worked in customer service in any capacity, you know that it’s tough, and maintaining enthusiasm and a positive attitude is very difficult. Once the customers manage to erode it all away, however, it’s time to look for a new job.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger and Facebook

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