The legal battle raging between Seven Media Group and Ten Network over the poaching of former Seven sales boss James Warburton contains a number of lessons for entrepreneurs around the importance of properly structuring contracts to prevent staff jumping straight into the arms of a rival.
While the latest accusations in the case – that Warburton took secret Seven documents when he left – have been strenuously denied – they should also get business owners thinking about the steps they have taken to protect company property.
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A crucial first step is ensuring that staff understand the difference between company and personal property. Often the lines are blurred – a laptop or smartphone will almost inevitably be used for both purposes – but to avoid any confusion, it’s a good idea to set some ground rules.
If you don’t want company property used for certain purposes – for example, if you don’t want laptops used for downloading porn or pirated movies – make it clear in polices that are presented to staff when they join.
And if you are serious about protecting your data when a staff member departs, let them know that all company property will need to be returned on the spot. With this in mind, laptops and phones should contain a minimal amount of personal data and what personal data there is should be backed up by the staff.
Save yourself any possible embarrassment by being as upfront as possible.
Get it done – today!