Companies have long eyed up competitors’ talent with a view to bringing them on board to increase their own competitiveness. However this activity is fraught with danger in terms of potential legal consequences. There are many dos and don’ts of staff poaching.
If a company has an eye on a competitor’s employee there are potential ways that they can be recruited. They could be approached direct, but another method could be to use a headhunter or executive search company. These are specialist recruitment agencies who will source management and top level jobs. They will act as a middleman seeking out and approaching key individuals putting distance between the employer and potential employee.
Having a professional network can help a company reach out to targetted individuals. The use of social media in recent years has done a great deal to enhance professional networks. Indeed the power of Linkedin has grown dramatically in recent years. It is said that anyone of use has 200 contacts within our circles and we are six steps away from contacting the person we would like to talk to. That is very powerful. Contacts in our network can come from many different sources – partners, family, friends, neighbours, clients, etc. The traditional old boys network has always worked rather well.
Employers should always beware of taking on competitor’s employees who have a restrictive covenant clause in their contract which may be pursuable in a court of law. The wording of such a clause is, of course, key.
For those employers that value their employees and fear them being poached by competitors there are key things to do in order to protect their interests.
Providing an interesting job is really important so that employees maintain job satisfaction along with career development opportunities is essential to meet career aspirations Succession planning will provide a career path that top performers can see and value acting as a retention tool. A comfortable work environment is also really important to encourage engagement. It goes without saying that financial reward should be right although non financial benefits are also important. Becoming an employer of choice is great to bamboozle the competition.
Having managed to recruit successfully a further way to protect themselves, a company should include a restrictive covenant or non-compete clause in a contract that includes details on the timescale that an employee may not work for a competitor and a banned geographical location. It is always good to draft something that would stand up in a court of law. It may not be viable if the restriction is not integral to the business’ survival.
If a company receives a letter of resignation from a valued member of staff who may have been poached consideration may be given to tactics of how that employee can be persuaded to stay. If they are valued, this is always worthwhile.
The death of Robin Williams this week has highlighted the issues of mental health and its devasting effects. Mental health in the workplace is often a difficult subject to deal with as it can be misunderstood. Mental health issues can include depression, anxiety and bi polar disease to name but a few conditions. Employees with mental health issues may appear troublesome and managing them can be difficult to their behaviour which can include being disruptive, turning up for work late or not showing up at all.
Mental health is surrounded by prejudice, ignorance and fear. People with mental health have many problems may include:
- People become isolated
- They are excluded from everyday activities
- It is harder to get or keep a job
- People can be reluctant to seek help, which makes recovery slower and more difficult
- Their physical health is affected
One in four of us will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lives and one in ten young people. We shall probably work with someone experiencing mental health and those who have mental health issues fear the reaction about discussing their problems.
There are many myths about mental health issues:
- Mental health problems are very rare.
- People with mental illness aren’t able to work.
- Young people just go through ups and downs as part of puberty, it’s nothing.
- People with mental health illnesses are usually violent and unpredictable
- It’s easy for young people to talk to friends about their feelings.
People with mental health problems are more dangerous to themselves than they are to others: 90% of people who die through suicide in the UK are experiencing mental distress. Substance abuse appears to play a role: The prevalence of violence is higher among people who have symptoms of substance abuse (discharged psychiatric patients and non-patients).
It makes good business sense to support employees with mental health issues. The Equality Act 2010 protects employees with mental health issues and they are protected against disability discrimination.
Where an employee’s mental health is impacting on their job role an employer should seek occupational health advice to establish if they are fit for work and if there are any reasonable adjustments that could be made to enable them to remain the workplace. It is essential to seek such advice particularly if dismissal is being considered.
An employer needs to demonstrate they have taken into account the following which was set out in case law Lynock v Cereal Packaging Ltd  IRLR 511,:
the nature of the illness
the likelihood of it recurring or of some other illness arising
the length of the various absences and the periods between them
the need for the employer to have the work done
the impact of the absences on other employees
the importance of a personal assessment of the situation
the importance of consultation with the employee
the importance of appropriate warnings of dismissal if there is no noticeable improvement.