Should employers care?
Last week, two of my clients got sued by former employees who they trusted and treated like family. Both employers had helped these employees through rough times, lent (or gave) them money when they needed it, and helped advance their careers. Both clients were extremely hurt by the perceived betrayal and willingness of these former employees to make baseless claims for a quick buck. Like many clients, they asked me if they should stop caring about or helping their employees and simply maintain a strict business relationship. In my view, the question is “should they stop going above and beyond what is required of an employer for the 90% who appreciate and deserve it, to protect themselves from the 10% who are willing to abuse it?” The problem is that employees move back and forth between the 90% and the 10% based on life circumstances. There’s a reason our number 1 (unofficial) rule of employment law is “all employees are happy; until they aren’t.” As in families, employer/employee relationships can change over time based on a myriad of factors. In families, you work through it for the sake of “family.” In employment relationships you often end up in court. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. My advice: in the long run kindness and caring about your employees is good for business and for society. But remember that the relationship it not family – it’s business – and you have to maintain a professional relationship, even if it means keeping true friendships out of the workplace.