You do not own your employees.
They are individuals with unique passions, hobbies, families, strengths, and lives who are choosing to commit the single-largest portion of their daily lives to your company, product and bottom line.
Unfortunately, many companies don’t view employees that way. They see them as assets that they control and dictate – as if the employees owe them something for having the privilege of working there.
This is complete and utter bullshit.
Regulations and policies are often the single largest indicator of culture inside of a company. And one of the very first policies new employees are expected to sign is the non-compete. What a horrible way to set the tone for the future of a person’s time at your company. “We’re thrilled to have you as part of our team, but should you leave, for whatever reason, we will do everything within our power to ensure that you can’t earn a living doing what you love to do and are great at. Kindly sign here to begin your time at our amazing company!”
On the bright side for the company, most employees (particularly less-experienced ones) are usually overjoyed to have a job, so they’ll typically sign anything put in front of them. But preying on this optimism and naiveté is, frankly, despicable.
Non-compete agreements should be written in a way that protects your company, secrets and relationships, not written to vindictively punish people for leaving to pursue their ambitions through new opportunities, more money, a better cultural fit, or whatever their resignation letter says.
Remove the punitive non-competes from your employee manual. View your employees as investors, partners and treasures that need to be appreciated, respected and adored. Recognize that they’re on loan to you for a time. And should the day come when it’s time for them to leave, shed a tear, give them a work-appropriate hug, and wish them well on their next great adventure.