-5

I work as a Shop Manager in the UK at a multinational luxury clothing retailer. My boss sat down with me and my managerial colleagues as she suspects some employees got poached from our store, and asked us if we saw anything. We said no. She reminded us to contact her if we see anything suspicious. I asked if she had any tips, but she said no special skills were required, "Just keep your eyes peeled".

  1. I'm boggled by the Reddit comments quoted below. Obviously the scout wouldn't wear her own company's uniform. But how can she slip her business card without worrying about other employees noticing? What if her business card's forwarded to the competitor's legal counsel who may sue her in tort? IANAL, but perhaps tortious interference like inducing a breach of contract? Nuisance and trespassing torts?

  2. And how can she get away with speaking in person to an employee? Other employees in the store can overhear.

  3. Do these scouters have other tactics?

Comments from this 13 Jun 2018 post

Solid-Liquid. 16 points 1 year ago

I’ve seen the Lowes store manager come into our store. He has told me if I’m ever interested, to let him know

QuanahParker80. 8 points 1 year ago

I've scouted Lowe's fairly regularly and have poached a few associates. Don't see how this is a surprise

Psykerr. 2 points 1 year ago

One of my old SM's used to try to poach from the Lowes across the road. He would hand his card out to anyone who gave him a glimmer of good customer service.

Comments from this 7 Sep 2018 post

DollarSignsGoFirst. 60 points 10 months ago

Often times employees in these positions feel undervalued and overlooked. So having someone else say “wow you’re doing an awesome job. I’d love for you to come work for me at XYZ” sounds good because it’s a change and the person seems nice.

weedful_things. 15 points 10 months ago

The operations manager walked up to me to say how bad he felt that I have been working 60 hour weeks because they can't find anyone decent to hire. Sometimes the manager brings me an ice cream or a gift card. I told him that was like when a man beats his wife and takes her out to dinner the next day.

  • 6
    What is your actual question? You already answered the title in your own post (walk in, and offer a job). – Juha Untinen Jul 17 at 5:43
  • Instead of a face to face interaction, if the headhunter do call you over phone, is that (more) acceptable? Why? – Sourav Ghosh Jul 17 at 5:48
  • 1
    "her business card will be forwarded to the competitor's store's legal counsel who may sue her?" Handwaving a lot, you can sue only for breach of contract. There is no contract here, therefore no possibility to sue. – Philip Kendall Jul 17 at 5:55
  • 3
    IANAL but it seems to me you'll have great difficulty arguing that someone is trespassing in a space to which the public are invited. And are they actually encouraging beach of contract, or just saying "give notice as required and rage a different job". – Philip Kendall Jul 17 at 6:12
  • 3
    I feel like this question, and all the comments and answers, although legitimate in their own right, are missing the root problem. Treat your employees well, offer them a good work environment and good leadership, and they won't have any motivation to be seduced by your competitors. – dwizum Jul 17 at 13:00
4

But how can she slip her business card without worrying about other employees noticing?

Why would she worry? It's a perfectly legal and ethical thing to do. Worst that can happen is that she will get asked to leave the store.

What if her business card's forwarded to the competitor's legal counsel who may sue her in tort? IANAL, but perhaps tortious interference like inducing a breach of contract? Nuisance and trespassing torts?

Sue her for what? It's a free country and people can visit public stores and choose their employers freely. There is a perfectly legal process to quit your job and work someplace else and you have absolutely no right to prevent this. If you are worried about poaching, you should create a work environment where your employees are happy. Happy employees stay, unhappy ones leave. Poaching is a symptom not the root cause.

And how can she get away with speaking in person to an employee? Other employees in the store can overhear.

So what? Why would you think that this is illegal or even inappropriate. Ideally you want your employees to say "Thanks. I appreciate the offer, but I'm really happy here" AND you want everybody in the store to hear it. If the standard answer is "Oh thank god, I can't wait to get out of here", you need to fix your store not the poaching

Do these scouters have other tactics?

Sure. They can look at name tags, look people up on LinkedIn look at facebook or reddit, etc. It's not a secret where people work and it's perfectly legal and appropriate to contact them about alterative job opportunities.

10

It is perfectly legal for a competitor to talk to your employees and offer them a job elsewehere. The "scout" wouldn't have to keep this secret at all. She doesn't need to worry that it gets noticed if the scout gives someone a business card, because it's perfectly fine. If someone notices, they are given a business card as well. If they talk to someone and are overheard, it doesn't matter.

As to Explorers comment, quitting a job after giving the required notice is not breach of contract.

  • Does workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/140528/… change your mind? – Explorer Jul 17 at 6:08
  • "It is perfectly legal to talk to your employees and offer them a job elsewehere." I meant employees at your competitors' stores. – Explorer Jul 17 at 6:08
  • 2
    You asked about a competitor to talk to employees if your store. – gnasher729 Jul 17 at 9:00
  • 3
    @Explorer How is that relevant? Note that there cannot be any "induction to breach a contract" without an actual breach of contract. Moreover a recruiter would not go in the store and say to the employees "leave your place here now, without giving notice and without following your concract regarding termination". Simply offering a job offer does not imply inducing the other party to break a contract to accept the offer. Your employees can accept the offer and give proper notice and follow all contractual clauses of termination. – Giacomo Alzetta Jul 17 at 10:57
  • @Explorer It would be different if the competitor offered money to, say, make the employee destroy or disrupt some company property or process or give away trade secrets etc. Because the objects of that transaction would inevitably be a contractual violation. – Giacomo Alzetta Jul 17 at 10:59
5

I don't work in retail, but in my area of expertise there are a lot of headhunters. They might even call me on my work phone, while I'm at work to offer me an opportunity. Even though my boss is in the same office and can hear what I have to say over the phone.

They don't care if anyone notices and frankly, what are you going to do? You can only tell them to get lost. Maybe they won't come back, maybe they'll send someone else.

I only think you have a case, when it's your supplier working with your employees and you have a contract with the supplier to not poach your employees. In your case, you just have a random guy walking in a store handing out a business card.

You shouldn't watch for scouts, you should watch for unhappy employees and make, and keep, them happy. In my case, I've found it more effective that I, as employee, tell headhunters to get lost, rather than my manager telling them.

  • 2
    In the USA, agreements not to poach have led to nine dollar digit fines. – gnasher729 Jul 17 at 9:03
  • @gnasher729 It doesn't seem like the OP has an agreement with a competitor. – Caroline Jul 17 at 9:33
  • "You should watch for unhappy employees and make, and keep, them happy." Exactly! "Poaching" implies that the employee didn't want to leave, but was somehow coerced, which is almost never the case. – Mike Harris Jul 17 at 13:27
3

All the scout has to do is to come into the store as a "normal" customer, spend 5 minutes trying a coat or dress or whatever, and as part of the process they always talk... Do you like it here? How long have you been here? etc

Then, at the end they say to your operative "thank you for helping me so well, if you want a different opportunity contact me and slip a business card while shaking hands.

How do you know, well you will have to stand next to each operative through each and every transaction... Can't see that working... So looks like your manager is upset at loosing staff and needing a solution. Perhaps persuading staff to stay will be an easier option : better pay or conditions etc...

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.