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Going After a Runaway Employee: What to Consider

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  • Runaway employees can cause significant financial and reputational harm to businesses.
  • Confidential information such as trade secrets, financial data, and personal information must be secured.
  • Potential liabilities such as breach of non-compete agreements or the cost of replacing an employee must be considered.
  • Reaching out to the employee and retrieving any physical objects is essential when dealing with runaway employees.

Employee turnover is a significant business issue, often resulting in high costs and associated risks. When an employee leaves their position suddenly or without sufficient notice, it can create additional challenges for the business. Runaway employees often leave many tasks unfinished and may even take confidential information with them.

The economic losses to a company caused by such events can be substantial. A study by The Work Institute revealed that voluntary employee turnover could cost employers 33% of an individual’s annual salary on average and up to 213% in some cases due to lost productivity and the costs of recruiting and training new personnel. Furthermore, 34% of respondents stated that runaway employees had caused significant organizational disruption, and over half reported that it had damaged morale amongst existing staff members.

Failure to comply with data protection regulations can also have profound implications when dealing with this type of situation; fines from government authorities may reach millions of dollars if personal data has been taken unlawfully by departing staff members who are not legally authorized to possess such information outside the workplace.

If you are dealing with a runaway employee with sensitive information about the company, you must take immediate action. Here are a few steps to consider:

Secure Confidential Information

Securing confidential information

Securing confidential information when dealing with runaway employees cannot be overstated. Such employees may have had access to sensitive data, including trade secrets, financial information, intellectual property, and personal data about staff members or customers. The loss or misuse of this data could severely damage the company’s reputation, result in costly legal action, and even lead to permanent closure.

Here are a few examples of the types of confidential information that may be at risk when dealing with a runaway employee:

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets, such as formulas, product designs, and manufacturing processes, are confidential and invaluable information that gives a business a competitive edge. If an employee takes this information with them, it can be disastrous for the company. For instance, if details of a new product design or a unique manufacturing process are exposed, competitors can quickly replicate it, eroding the company’s market share.

Financial Information

Financial information such as revenue figures, profit margins, and business strategies can be confidential, and disclosing this information could cause significant harm to a business. A runaway employee with access to such information can sell it to competitors or use it to start their own competing business.

Personal Information

Data protection regulations mandate that businesses protect personal data collected from staff members or customers. A runaway employee taking or using such data for personal gain can lead to legal repercussions and massive fines. For example, if a rogue employee swipes a company’s staff member’s personal and financial information, the staff member’s identity could be stolen or used for fraud, leading to legal action against the company.

Intellectual Property

Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are essential intellectual property rights that must be guarded. An employee who leaves with crucial intellectual property rights can result in a severe setback, legal action, and damage to the company’s intellectual property rights, leading to financial losses and a tarnished reputation.

Identify Potential Liabilities

When dealing with a runaway employee, it is essential to consider potential liabilities that may arise. This involves legal and financial risks that can significantly impact the business.

One of the most significant legal risks associated with a runaway employee is the violation of non-compete agreements or confidentiality agreements. These agreements are put in place to protect the business’s critical information, such as customer lists, trade secrets, and intellectual property. If a rogue employee takes this information with them and uses it to compete against the business or disclose it to others, they may be liable for breach of the agreement.

Another potential liability associated with runaway employees is the cost of replacing them. As noted earlier, voluntary employee turnover can cost businesses up to 213% of an individual’s annual salary, including the expenses of recruiting, hiring, training a new employee, and lost productivity. Replacing a senior or specialized employee can be even more costly, mainly if they take crucial knowledge or skills.

Reach Out to Employee

Negotiating with runaway employee

It is vital to act quickly when dealing with a runaway employee. Your first step should be to reach out and attempt to contact the employee in question. This can help you investigate the situation and understand their grievances, if any. It may also provide an opportunity for reconciliation and allow you to discuss an amicable resolution.

Other outreach methods, such as email or phone, might be necessary if you cannot reach out through traditional means, such as email or phone, other outreach methods, such as social media platforms, or even private investigators. If the departed employee has taken confidential information with them, your priority should be to secure it before it causes further damage.

Moreover, if the employee has left with a physical object that belongs to the business, such as a laptop or flash drive, you must retrieve them as soon as possible. When sending legal documents to an employee who has left their position suddenly, you should use a process server. It is the fastest way to mail legal documents, as it provides proof of delivery and is less likely to be neglected.

Final Thoughts

Runaway employees can cause substantial damage to a business, including financial losses, legal risks, and reputational harm. It is essential to act quickly when dealing with such a situation and take appropriate steps to secure confidential information and protect the company’s interests. Taking proactive measures to address this issue can mitigate potential losses caused by runaway employees and safeguard your business from further harm.

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