Your biggest competitor may have stolen valuable assets from your business without ever setting foot on your premises. If your competitor is hiring away your employees, you may be losing more than the cost of hiring and training replacements.
"The assets of a business are no longer its plant, property and fixtures," says employment-law attorney Jeffrey Pasek of Cozen & O'Conner in Philadelphia. "The assets of the business walk home each night in the hearts and minds of the employees." Which is precisely why your competitors may want to raid your work force, either to take advantage of the talent you've worked so hard to nurture or to gain access to confidential information about your business.
What can you do about it? Your first line of defense is a contented work force, in which employees feel valued and receive fair compensation. Satisfied employees are far less likely to jump ship. Still, in today's economy, competitors can tempt employees with compensation packages that are hard to refuse. That's when you may need to know what protection you have in the law.
Steven C. Bahls, dean of Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio, teaches entrepreneurship law. Freelance writer Jane Easter Bahls specializes in business and legal topics.