Non-Compete Agreements

Non-Compete Agreements

Prevent employees from becoming or engaging with competitors

Don’t be a doormat. We have a problem with non-compete agreements between an employee, employer, or contractor. Neither our employees nor our business partners have signed one. We would never think of taking what belongs to someone else. We expect the same from our employees and vendors. But maybe we need more than a handshake?

Being Nice Doesn’t Mean Being a Doormat

Get it in writing. Even if you’re a trusting business owner not using non-compete agreements. I’m not aggressive and I have to get it done. I’m a nice guy who tends to see the best in other people. Meanwhile, I know I also get walked on by vendors, customers, and sometimes even employees. How do I find the balance?”

Non-compete agreements can be important for a variety of reasons, including the protection of trade secrets or goodwill. They’re used to limit an employee’s options going to work for, or starting, a competing business.

Let’s talk about the reality of employment. People come and go. Few spend a lifetime in a single job. Good people learn on the job and seek to better their lives by applying what they know as they go forward. Most people think well of their former employers or employees. They acknowledge the contributions made, what they learned by working together. They move on to new employment, or employees, with no real competitive issues. Even in this case, the issue is more customer care than it is a competitive threat.

Whenever unemployment drops, we are likely to see more non-compete issues. Job-hopping increases. Competitors pay a premium to secure knowledgeable employees. Employees have more offers to move between competitors.

It is best for both employer and employee to have a heart-to-heart conversation pre-hire, about expectations. How long do you both expect to be together? What do you both expect to be doing for work, when you go your separate ways? What kind of collaboration can you expect after you separate?

Think of a good non-compete agreement as a roadmap, defining how each party – employer and employee, will deal with each other, once they have just spent years working together for a common goal. Both need to recognize they have choices. They don’t have to take the work, or extend the offer, if the non-compete does not work for both of them, they can look elsewhere.