By Rachel Stone, Head of People Management at Smith & Williamson

What would you do if your star performer came into your office and told you that they were leaving and taking staff with them?

Even in these straightened times, we are still seeing people on the move, and it’s worth taking a minute to consider whether you are in the best shape to deal with the loss of some of your key players.

Contractual protection

• Make sure that you have valid and robust restrictive clauses that will stand up to legal challenge
• Check that your employment contracts have clauses allowing you to use garden leave to keep an employee off-site after resignation
• Your gross misconduct definitions in your disciplinary policy should include clear references to poaching clients, staff and information

Communication and engagement

• All key staff need to feel involved and engaged in your business
• Talk to them about the future, their part in it and how they will share in the success of the business

Protecting client information and relationships

• Your IT policies and systems should make it difficult for staff to copy records or to take client information off-site
• All key clients should have a good working relationship with more than one person in your business

If the worst happens:

• Remind any resigning employee immediately about their restrictive covenants and put this in writing
• Ask for the immediate return of any client records that they may have and remove memory sticks, laptops and company phones that may contain client or other sensitive information
• Remove access to your computer systems
• Make an immediate handover plan so that clients meet their new contact as soon as possible
• If you suspect that an employee or ex-employee is breaching their restrictive covenants, take legal advice immediately

For help and advice on practical people issues, contact Rachel Stone and her team on 0117 376 2076 or email rachel.stone@smith.williamson.co.uk

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