HR Technology, Non-Compete Agreements and You


You probably haven’t heard of a Human Resources technology company called Workday. Like every other company in the HR space, they try to sell you on the idea that they’re more than just a payroll company. They offer business service software that some companies use to pay their employees, manage expenses, and manage the financial process involved in running a business.

Workday hires nice people. You may remember that I featured Leighanne Levensaler as one of the women I admire. They hired another woman, Amy Wilson, who is pretty fabulous. And they recently hired a guy by the name of Jim Holincheck.

Jim used to work for a company called Gartner, a firm that does research on technology companies. He was an analyst who focused on HR technology. He knows this industry like some HR ladies know the inside of a Golden Corral. His research is used by lots of people who make purchasing decisions (or even investment decisions).

Many of my HR friends think it’s sketchy that Workday, a HR technology company that is about to go public, hired an analyst right before going public. I say — big deal. Workday hired a talented guy and most companies hire employees based on past performance and expect these employees to bring their expertise to the table in new and different ways.

You don’t hire people for what they’ve done. You hire them for what they can do.

Some of my friends think that I am naive. They argue that Jim had access to proprietary and privileged information over the years that could benefit Workday.

“He might still have some of that info his brain.”

He might, but so do you. In the real world, we all operate with a ton of information in our head. It’s tough to make the case to disqualify someone from having a career because they’re really good at what they do. Smart employers will protect their IP by making employees sign confidential, non-disclosure agreements. It is fair and realistic to tell someone that they cannot take your ideas and help the competition. It’s also fair to ask some employees to sign a limited, non-compete agreement so that they don’t jump ship for another competitor right away.

I just think it is unfair to place a lifetime ban on employment in a specific industry because someone is good at his job.

(Well, unless you’re an Iranian nuclear scientist. Don’t hire that guy.)

Why is any of this important?

  • Very smart and amazing HR professionals — some with law degrees and years of experience — differ on whether or not a Human Resources analyst can go work for a Human Resources software company.
  • They are arguing and disagreeing over the nuances of non-compete and non-disclosure agreements — really important stuff to get right.

If we can’t agree on how to employ one of our own, how can we agree on you?

So if you’re ever in a situation like this, don’t rely on HR to tell you if you can or cannot work for someone. Get your own attorney to give you an honest opinion.

And remember that haters gonna hate.

Go Jim!

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