by Kristina Dmytriv | December 14, 2011
Tech giant HP filed its third lawsuit at the end of November against an ex-employee attempting to defect to rival Cisco. Mark Chandler, Cisco’s general counsel, argued on his blog that HP's move is unwarranted since trade secrets are protected by intellectual property laws, which make non-compete agreements that prevent employees from going to work for competitors unnecessary.
 
When a company tries to enforce its will through the legal system, employee morale can be affected. Beth Schelske, vice president of client services at ITAGroup, says it is a lose-lose situation for both employers and employees. “Anytime an employer brings litigation into a relationship, it’s negative. Employers should strive to create situations where their employees would not want to leave.” she says. 
 
“Suing employees that try to leave to work for a competitor sends the message that their contribution is not fully valued. There will be a negative response because people should be free to move where they wish,” says Vlad Haltigin of PDM(i), an incentive travel advisory and consulting firm.
 
Instead of suing their employees, companies should focus on how best to retain them. Retention strategies should be worked on at the local level, and management has to make an extra effort to show that these particular employees are valued. 
 
According to Haltigin, management must be able to effectively communicate with its employees and be able to highlight two things: the importance of the business they are in and the importance and value of their employees. 

One way to ensure that employees do not defect is by creating programs that constantly recognize employee contributions. Reward and recognition strategies can help employers get ahead of the game if they suspect some of their employees are going to defect. Achievable short-term goals can also be implemented at the local level, and which highlight the importance of alignment between individual goals and the goals and objectives of the company.