As recent events at a certain bus company have shown, it’s sometimes the case that when employees are winners, it’s their employer that loses – usually losing a bunch of staff! With so many staff syndicates playing the lottery, how can employers mitigate the risks of big-time winners all downing tools (or stopping their buses) and walking off the job? Bus drivers may be easily replaceable, but not in the middle of a shift, and some employees could cause major problems for an employer if they were to suddenly disappear and never come back. Fortunately, short of chaining people to their desk/steering wheel, there are actually precautions that you can take.
The most obvious may be to have a contractual policy, and/or clause in employment contracts, that specifies that any staff coming into megabucks (whether lottery wins, big inheritances or finding a genuine Picasso in the attic) have to give their contractual notice period, or face being sued. That may be difficult to enforce – after all they may be rich enough not to care – but then again they may not want the hassle of legal proceedings. (Either way, at least you can be guaranteed they can afford to pay out any compensation!)
But the smartest, and indeed most ethical, way, is to make sure that staff are so genuinely loyal to their employer and colleagues, and committed to the success of the organisation, that they don’t actually want to leave you in the lurch. I have left jobs previously and been incensed to find out afterwards that all my good work has been messed up by some donkey that the organisation appointed as my successor. Even though it wasn’t my problem anymore, I still cared enough about my ex-colleagues, my work and the business to be upset at the aftermath. If your staff feel that way, they will happily stay and help you find and induct a replacement before they fly off to the Carribbean in their new private jet.
Easier said than done though – so how can you engender that kind of loyalty? Most people leave managers, not jobs, so it’s critical that managers have sound working relationships with their team, and that people don’t want to leave just to stick it to their hated boss. Engage people in business success through involving and empowering them – so they can feel like a valued part of the big picture, and take pride in their own contribution. If people care about what happens, then they won’t want to risk throwing a spanner in the works. Make the working day enjoyable and the company a great place to work, through whatever initiatives you see fit. If people actually enjoy coming in to work, they won’t be so desperate to get away from it!
In non-profit companies, staff are often very mission-focussed and will probably have the best interests of their service users at heart. But do you really want to gamble on their goodwill? Far better to create an environment they aren’t fantasising about escaping from! And if you are a charity organisation, who knows – maybe your newly-wealthy staff will be so keen to help rather than hinder your work, they could become volunteers or even benefactors… So keep your staff happy and it will pay off in more ways than one!