When top employees use their current job as a stepping stone

Natural Stone Stairs with blue oat grass, and flowers. [File, Standard]

A few seasons ago, French Ligue 1 side Monaco boasted one of the best squads in the world.

In the 2016/17 season, the team won the league title and reached the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.

The following season, there was a haemorrhage of talent. Monaco sold its key players and fell off its perch atop the table.

Between May 2017 and August 2018, the club sold 11 first-team players for €530 million (Sh66.8 billion). It was an explicable move considering the club’s previous success.

“We are thinking with the president: in the future, we would like to bring more stability and do lesser changes from one season to another,” Mr Vadim Vasilyev, the club’s vice-president, said, expressing regret at the meltdown.

Monaco’s case is a classic example of how organisations the world over scout for and train top talent only to see them leave and join their rivals soon after.

Often, it is impossible to hold onto talent when it “outgrows” the company, spurred by the urge to seek greener pastures.

Ms Faith Kosilbet, human resource head at Make It Beautiful (MIB) African Solution, says that every employer is aware that the employee will eventually leave.

The employer aims to have the employee depart with skills that will help them develop themselves out there.

“It is a good thing for the employer. It shows that the employee experienced growth at the workplace. The employee is being readied to start a business and sustain themselves once out of the employer’s vicinity,” says Ms Kosilbet.

While some of these employees leave to start their businesses, many others join their former employers’ competitors. This not only weakens the former employer but also strengthens the rival.

Ms Kosilbet says some employees feel beholden to one employer because of certain incentives such as training opportunities and other perks. However, others use their current employer as a stepping stone to grow their careers.

Cases abound of people building up contacts at their places of work and leaving with them when they start their enterprises.

In some companies, the standout employees are often tugged into private practice by customers who want to interact with them on a more personal level.

Ms Kosilbet explains that it is easier for a salesperson or a matatu driver to start their own business than it is for a consultant.

“In consultancy, you cannot open your private business off your employer’s clients. This is because the clients you are serving, and who you carry with you into your new consultancy firm, belong to your previous employer,” she says.

This would mean that the employee would be benefitting directly from clients they were allocated by the company, which is akin to carting away company resources to use in your new venture. Ms Kosilbet says employees are expected to use company resources only for its benefit.

Otherwise, the employees should declare to the company what they intend to do with the resources if an activity falls outside their job description.

“If the company will need to pay extra for resources that the employee is using that are not part of what is expected of them by the company, then it is only just to let the company know,” she says.

But if one is bettering themselves in the very field the company expects them to deliver, then the use of company resources cannot be seen to be wrong. Ms Kosilbet says companies give employees training to ensure that they get a skill that they can use to help themselves once they retire.

She also says regular training should not be seen as an avenue for preparing them for exit but as a requisite step in the betterment of the labour force for the company, albeit in the short term.

“Most employers know that they are employing you for the short term,” says Ms Kosilbet.

The world over, people mainly leave jobs because of a lack of support and the availability of greener opportunities.

According to a Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), over 3.5 million Americans (about 2.3 per cent of the labour force) quit their jobs every month, according to a recent Reuters article.

LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report showed that 94 per cent of employees indicated that they would stay at a company longer “if it simply invested in helping them learn.”

Locally, Brighter Monday’s Kenya Employee Satisfaction Report 2021 showed that 90 per cent of respondents believed job satisfaction increases their job productivity. Less than half of those surveyed said they were happy with their employer.

Fifty-three per cent of employees aged between 18 and 24 said they were happy with their employer, while only 41 per cent in the group of between 25 and 35 years were happy, with 56 per cent willing to ditch their current employer.

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