How not to lose a good employee

Dear Ken Keller,

I hired a new employee to work for my company. All was well, I thought, until several weeks later when he failed to show up for work. Concerned, I called and asked if he was okay.

The new employee told me that he quit. He said he did this because he was being hassled by other employees. I asked him to tell me who had been giving him a bad time and he refused saying that, in the end, telling me who was hassling him would not matter. In his mind, it was going to boil down to believing the word of long time employees, or him.

Based on that, he made the decision to simply quit.

I interviewed the employees involved. All said that no harassment took place. I chose not to pursue the matter. What am I missing here?

Robert K.

Dear Robert,

I believe you are missing that your company has turned into what the law in your state defines as a “hostile work environment.”

When someone in your employ, regardless of tenure or position, feels so threatened that they prefer to walk away from a paying job because of the environment created by fellow employees, action is way past due.

You need to retain an experienced employment attorney to conduct an investigation into what took place. That attorney can recommend a course of action to address what happened to your former employee and can create policies, procedures and training so that this kind of situation does not take place again.

Just because you have not heard from this former employee doesn’t mean that this is resolved. There may be a legal case against you and your company. If the harassment was sexual in nature and was perpetrated by supervisors, those individuals may be personally liable. You should be prepared for adverse legal action, which an experienced employment attorney can proactively address.

Dear Ken Keller,

For many years we have contracted with a Certified Public Accounting firm focused on minimizing our tax liability.

At this stage of growth, there might be other CPA firms that could do more of what we need.

The partner handling our account is a long-time friend. After so many years I am already dreading having a conversation; even sending an email to set it up makes my palms sweaty. What are your thoughts about this?

Tom F.

Dear Tom,

It’s a good business practice to review what your needs are today and what you will need in the future with any vendor. Be proactive and do this first with your CPA firm.

You’ve identified areas your company may need assistance but you don’t know if your current CPA firm can provide those services or not. You can only learn this when you hold a conversation about where your company has been, where it is and where it is going.

To prepare, create a list of what you are currently paying for, what you are charged, and how you rate delivery of 0those services (1 to 10, 10 being the highest). Then, list the additional services desired in the future, and rank them “must have” or “nice to have.”

Be open; share your assessments with your CPA.

Your CPA will do everything they can to retain your business, but be sure and ask them to recommend, as part of their response, other firms that would be a good match for specific needs going forward.


Ken Keller is a syndicated business columnist focused on the leadership needs of small and midsize closely held companies. Contact him at KenKeller@SBCglobal.net. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of this media outlet.

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