Let’s face it – hiring a new team member can be an exhausting process. Spending time sorting through candidates to identify real talent vs. “half-hearted” talent is a tough process. Many managers have had to “settle” on a slightly-less-than-desired candidate due to time pressures or lack of solid candidates. So, there is never a guarantee that you will not end up getting burned after hiring a new employee.

As leaders, we should always make it a priority to keep quality talent along the journey. But sometimes, for various reasons, good employees quit and if you are not paying attention, these situations can surprise you and leave you in a pinch.

By being aware of these four warning signs, you can spot employees who are considering a departure before they have made up their minds. 

Personal Crises
Employees have personal lives too, and leaders should never forget that fact. If something happens in one aspect of their lives, chances are it’s going to affect another aspect of their life. For example, if an employee is going through a nasty divorce, lost a loved one recently, or is suffering from a health issue, these events will often cause one to rethink priorities which could result in evaluating career options. Usually, effective leaders can spot this change within employees on a personal level with their staff. Asking them how they are doing and showing genuine empathy with them in times of need will go a long way.

Blowing through Leave Time
If your employee is using an excessive amount of sick, vacation, or personal time at the beginning of the year, chances are they are doing so to get rid of it before they quit. These days do not come cheap, so using them all within a short time frame does not really make sense – unless they have a good reason. Often, such employees have already made up their decision to leave, so there’s little you can do to stop them. Still, it’s worth a try if you want to keep them.

Disengaged Attitude/Work Ethic
Disengaged staff usually “give up” on their job and it shows in many ways, but you will especially notice it in their attitudes and work ethic. For example, such employees will suddenly stop providing suggested improvements, be noticeably less chipper than usual, or suddenly become much less engaging with other team members and with you as the leader. Often such behavior is brought on by personal stress and can be a result of change within the company. An idea to consider here is a change of the employee’s role or responsibilities – especially if you think you can reinvigorate their commitment to the organization.

Physically or Verbally Expressing Unhappiness
If employees are telling you and/or others how unhappy they are at work, chances are they are nearly out the door. As such feelings of unhappiness grow, they get difficult to hide. These people express their feelings in the break room or on social media, giving you, as the leader, a chance to address the situation and explore ways to resolve matters.

There is always a way to keep quality talent and agree on a path forward. However, if the leader discerns that an employee has already mentally “checked out,” asking them to leave sooner rather than later could be the best option – for everyone.

Editor’s Note: Eric Spell is president of AgCareers.com. For more helpful advice on managing talent, check out the AgCareers.com Talent Harvest Blog at http://blog.agcareers.com/talent-harvest/