How Founders can address immoral recruiting behavior

About a week ago , a member of my team having failed to deliver his task for the sales meeting we had, called me saying he had something to say.

He said he was recovering from some ‘unknown’ illness, which he had informed me about some weeks prior, when he started falling behind on his tasks .

At the time when he began to slack, I had inquired as to why. And at the time he had told me he was ‘ill’. All through the period, I offered my empathy and excused him from task-related pressure as he appeared to be recovering while I found ways to take up his slack.

On the call he began by telling me how he wanted to get 2 weeks vacation so that he could fully recover. He mentioned that on return he could not confirm that would be able to return to his job fully and may need to eventually resign. Then he went on about how we wanted more pay and less work.

I listened and tried to understand what the main issue was. I was able to isolate that he wanted more money and less workload. I offered to speak with our HR and bring up something for him. This conversation took us over 3 hours.

Eventually I was able to confirm that we were reviewing salaries as per every 1 year anniversary of our staff, which for him was due in 3 months. And asked him to think about it.

Well he eventually wrote me back saying he was going to resign.

I wished him well and asked him to resign officially with a 1 month notice and to transition to his new replacement over the next 1 month.

What was shocking was when I then asked him to spend the next 2 weeks to supervise junior staff in another city and clear his backlogged tasks. He blatantly refused to spend the next 2 weeks in this other city saying he could only spend 3 days there. Something was clearly wrong to me at this point.

What was surprising to me was that not so long after I had written this, his new employer reached out to me directly.


Very clearly, this senior manager had lied to me. Over the prior 2 weeks he had been working or recruiting with them and the medical examinations for x-ray and liver tests he told me was doing for diagnosis of his sickness was in reality, medical tests to join his new employers.

I then wrote him formally copying our HR to ensure he followed the instruction given to him verbally to resume in the other city of our operations and supervise junior staff. He then sends in his resignation with immediate effect saying he would exercise the option to pay the 1 month in lieu of notice.

This same employee had been pushing only a few days earlier to expand his credit allocation by almost 2x when he knew to himself that he was about to exit. Our in-house credit committee process curtailed this intent and at the time he was complaining of delays to serve his customers and meet his sales target.

He resigned with immediate effect without handing over properly leaving his team in disarray- (which we we have now resolved). This ex-employee was ready to exercise his option to resign with immediate effect but not pay the 1 month in lieu that was due immediately. His new employer wrote to pay for him which also implied that they were in the know or encouraged him to resign without fulfilling his exit responsibilities. Almost 1 week after, this ex-employee is yet to pay the month in-lieu and our collections agent has begun the process to recover the ex-employee’s liabilities from him. Sadly for him, he may end up facing serious reputation damages with his professional regulator.

I have done a lot of recruiting this year and I always tell new recruits to properly close up at their prior employers rather than leaving immediately to join us. It is not a legal imperative for me but a moral one for my conscience. This helps the former employers properly transition to a replacement and helps the employee leave behind a good name. For them to appear to encourage unprofessional behavior without regard to morality is rather disturbing.

For entrepreneurs, the lessons here are to ensure that you have a proper organization with laid down processes. You must also block all loopholes that enable others take advantage of you. Many times you can hope that people will behave reasonably but from my experience only very few people do behave so if they think they can get away with it. Finally, vigorously enforce your rules otherwise people will take bad behavior as precedent and they will repeat the bad acts they see others get away with- never keep quiet when others try to take advantage of you, be vigorous, that is why you must have a compliance team alongside your HR.

For staff, it is okay to hop up and around if that is how you are built. Ultimately long termism vs. short termism is what wins – not spending 4 months here and there. Ultimately, no one will employ you with that type of background- my HR has the mandate to bin candidates with that type of background and I only rarely see these at our final interviews. Also when you do leave, try to do so honorably. The industry is so small and every employer does their background check and reference request from your prior employers. This was how we got to know that this ex-employee had been lying all along.

For recruiters, be moral. It is in your own best interest to set a good example to your new staff as to the values you hold. Do not enable your new recruits to flout the rules of their exit nor should you allow new recruits to not properly give notice at prior employers before you onboard them. Eventually if you fail to observe these basic moral behaviors, it only reflects poorly on you as an organization. And yes, people talk and the immoral behavior you enable in the dark while they may not be illegal will be made available for the world to see what your morals really are. No one will keep quiet to bad behavior you enable.