Please release me, let me go…

…Cos I don’t love you anymore…no relationship break up is easy, even one that is fundamentally transactional! When a team member or employee decides it’s time to move on sometimes, as in romance, things can get messy. In an increasingly candidate-short market, some companies will bend over backwards to keep hold of their staff, even if it’s blatantly clear the love has long- gone. This manifests itself most commonly in the recruiter’s worst nightmare – the COUNTER OFFER! This generally has 2 outcomes –

  1. The employee stays for a bit because the extra money is nice, but then moves on in 6 months anyway because as we all know, money can’t buy you love. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, although the employer has saved the relationship, there is always the worry that their beloved will break their heart by straying again – the trust has gone!
  2. The employee breaks free saying ‘no way, If I’m worth that why weren’t you paying me that before?! And anyway, XXX loves/values me more’ (or words to that effect)

Another scenario that has become worryingly common is when companies try to keep their staff using more nefarious means. Clearly every organisation has a right to protect their business interests, and understandably they will have rules in place to prevent employees ‘stealing’ clients or other team members. However most people are merely wanting to take their own personal expertise elsewhere and yet some are being put under extreme pressure by their employer to stay put. ‘ You can’t go and work for a competitor’ is a common objection and in some situations this is valid, reasonable  and can be upheld. However, in many cases employees’ careers are being held back; they have particular skills that they want to build on, but are threatened with legal action if they choose to do this elsewhere! Legally this is dodgy territory. If your partner goes off with your best mate, it might be hurtful, but it’s their choice and sadly you can’t sue them for it.

Sometimes a leaver serving their notice period can find themselves slap bang in the middle of an emotionally-charged psycho-drama. Usually this is at the hands of a disgruntled (and usually over-worked) boss who simply cannot accept that the relationship is coming to an end. In this case, inevitably the leaver will be held to serve every last moment of their notice. Often this is understandable – the work load is heavy and it will take a while to find a replacement. On occasion, however, the exiting employee is  effectively made to stay is  mundane tasks to do whilst they serve their time. Whilst unusual, we do hear stories of bullying and in more extreme cases, employees can be coerced into reversing their decision and staying put. This can be devastating for the victim and also creates a really toxic atmosphere across the team.  Fighting to save a relationship is one thing but turning into a control-freak and guilt-tripping someone into staying with you is quite another. Where is the (self) respect?!

Keeping hold of great team members is a challenge, particularly when their heads are constantly being turned by a plethora of sexy jobs out there. Like in all relationships, mutual respect and good communication is the key to longevity. Companies that treat their employees respectfully – at all stages of their journey – will also find that they are far more attractive to potential new mates. SO, if the time has come to call it a day, if you love someone, set them free (sorry to end on a ‘Sting’ quote there, but it seemed apt).