How to protect my consultants from being poached by clients?


How would you deal with a client that is trying to poach one of your consultants (we run a ruby on rails consultancy)? My engineer was honest about it and told us upfront what was going on. It's kind of complicated since the client is one of our largest sources of revenue at the moment.

Legal Consulting Consultants Poaching

asked Mar 1 '14 at 03:04
Lester Guarino
5 points
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1 Answer


First thing to remember, is that the consultant isn't "your consultant" - they're a human being.

Do they want to go? If the answer is no, then you have nothing to worry about. If the answer is yes, then the decision has been made, you have nothing to worry about (except to start recruiting a replacement, if you need).

If you're looking for a middle ground, the Dutch have made a pretty good run at turning secondment into a business model. You keep the engineer on your payroll, insurance etc, but, hire them for an extended period of time (years is not unusual) to the company that want's them.

answered Mar 1 '14 at 11:05
Nick Stevens
4,436 points
  • Sound advice, I'd add you can of course find out directly from the engineer if you are able to negotiate better terms. In the future, you may sign non-compete agreements that require the consultant not to perform the same job for your clients. – Garet Claborn 8 years ago
  • Negotiating better terms at point of resignation is a really bad idea. Firstly it sends the message that you've been under valuing the person until they quit and *now* you want to give them more... Secondly, it shows that you're open to being extorted and thirdly, you still end up with a person who doesn't want to be here, except now they're even more expensive. Non-compete clauses are also terrible and, in Europe, pretty hard to enforce. In the US they are expensive to enforce. Treat your employees as you would like to be treated. – Nick Stevens 8 years ago
  • On the first two points, this makes sense to me - but on the third this is fairly standard practice here (in US). I can understand the OP needing some protection on this level since it is rather dangerous when clients hire an engineer purely to avoid paying your company. – Garet Claborn 8 years ago
  • I realise they are common in the US - but they are still expensive to enforce, not just in monetary terms, but also in relationship and reputation. Murder and slavery are also common - doesn't mean that we should let them be perpetuated. Companies should not be able to own people. – Nick Stevens 8 years ago
  • Oh wow! Sorry but I am not suggesting companies own the person, only that it should be fair to protect your core business services. – Garet Claborn 8 years ago

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