Frustrated business owner from Edgecliff, New South Wales asks:
having a bad run at the moment with ex-employees. No sooner do they
leave than I hear about them trying to poach my remaining staff. I’m
hearing this from loyalists who’ve been approached and from mercenary
employees who exploit my vulnerability to demand a pay rise. What
bothers me is opportunism from insiders and the silence of those who
aren’t telling me they are considering leaving. I’m trying to avoid
being blindsided and having my team decimated. What should I do?
Kenelm Tonkin, Chairman, Tonkin Corporation answers.
There is an opportunity here to act defensively and offensively.
First, fully recheck your employment offerings. Are you paying
competitive salaries? Is your workplace environment optimistic? Does
your managerial style impede good morale? Do your people enjoy
professional autonomy? Can your managers teach to enhance staff careers?
Conduct this due diligence on your company and adjust immediately if
Your next defensive step is to place each employee into one of your
three categories: loyal, mercenary, silent. Reward your loyal people
without hesitation. Further divide your ‘mercenaries’ into
those who are successful, versus those with average, minimum,
inconsistent or unacceptable performances. Offer the first group a
‘loyalty’ bonus, in whatever form, based on performance and continued
service for a period appropriate to your business. If this means
changing existing incentives to now include tenure for the first time, a
new job title or accelerated promotion, so be it. Offer the second
group nothing. Let another company take them. Then, actively cultivate
the silent, sounding them out about poachers. Respond similarly as for
Concurrently, take an offensive posture. Telephone those former
employees who are poaching your staff. Confront them. Tell them you know
what they are doing. Make the point sharply that you and your staff
think less of them for their duplicity and that all the talk is about
their behaviour. Warn them that they are being watched. History shows
this solves 99% of cases. For the 1%, there is always a skilled
employment lawyer or a hungry HR agent to counter-punch.