Recognise This! – Ignoring employee potential to leave is just as dangerous and short-sighted as ignoring the reasons why they would.

How many news reports, blogs or tweets have you read about employees planning to leave? For me, I’d have to estimate in the dozens. Just yesterday in a workshop I led, we once again discussed the high rates of employees who do not feel recognised for their work saying they plan to leave their jobs.

What’s management’s opinion of all this? A deep yawn, perhaps a noncommittal shrug of the shoulders.

John Hollon in TLNT points to recent AMA research showing an alarming 69% of managers saying “it’s nothing new for employees to keep an eye out for new opportunities, and I don’t regard the present situation as something unusual.” Senior managers don’t care either, with 61% regarding the potential or a actual turnover situation as not so urgent, or not urgent at all.

Perhaps, as the article posits, this is the natural result of employees crying “wolf!” too many times. Since the recession hit, nobody will deny that employees are overworked and under-compensated in many roles (as compared to prior to the recession and consequent layoffs). And, as I mentioned, we’ve all read the near countless stories of employees planning to leave.

But to ignore this groundswell of ill-opinion from employees is to bury our heads in the sand. Even if employees remain tied to their current positions due to the lackluster employment market, the expression of a desire to leave is – in and of itself – deeply concerning. As my colleague mentioned in the workshop yesterday, these are the employees who “quit but forgot to tell you.”

Their minds are already looking to the future and the next opportunity, or at least daydreaming about leaving your company in their dust. Not only are they not fully engaged in the task at hand, they are actively disengaged. They do not bring their full effort to work, nor do they want to.

This should be deeply concerning to management at all levels. If increasing productivity and performance is your goal, you’ve got potentially 40% of your workforce capable of working much harder – of bringing much more discretionary effort to the table – but who have chosen to “quit and stay.”

Of course, you do still have the option of burying your head deeper in the sand, trusting to employees’ inability to find another job much like those in this very funny video (hat-tip again to John Hollon and TLNT for sharing).

How urgently do you or your senior leadership perceive employee plans to leave? Do you plan to leave? Have you already quit by forgotten to tell HR?