In almost any business setting, including a law firm, your employees might get a better offer elsewhere at some point. For some employees, they might not even seek out the job offer. In other words, if you have a law firm with great employees, many of these employees will be sought after. They will be recruited.
The fact that your employees are sought after and recruited by others is actually a great compliment. It means that you have wonderful people working for your law firm that others value. It also means that others there think that you have trained your employees in such a manner that they could hit the ground running at their law firm or place of business.
In other circumstances, your employee might have been actively looking for another job. Or, perhaps, they were just putting feelers out there to see what else was out there. In doing that, they obtained an offer from another law firm or business that is better than the compensation they are currently receiving at your law firm.
The reality is that this is going to happen in any business. It is no different in a law firm setting. The truth is that there are always a certain number of employees who are going to be tempted to leave if they receive an offer that they cannot refuse.
In some of these circumstances, the employee does not even allow you to match the offer that they received. In these circumstances, there really is not anything to think about. All you can do is thank them for their service and wish them well.
In other cases, the employee might consider staying if you match the offer that they received. So, the question is whether you should entertain doing this?
The truth is that every situation is different. Thus, you cannot apply a uniform rule to every situation. But below are some considerations:
1.) Does the employee really prefer to stay? This is obviously a critical question that you have to get to first. If the employee does not really want to stay, then there is no reason to consider matching the offer. But if they truly want to stay if you match the offer, then that is obviously a huge consideration.
2.) How hard would it be to replace the employee? Certain employees are so valuable to your law firm that it would create a gaping hole if they were to leave. If it is this kind of employee, you should probably consider matching the offer so long as you can reasonably afford to pay it. On the other hand, if the employee is replaceable fairly easily, then that would lead to a different conclusion.
3.) If you match the offer of the departing employee, will it be unfair to other employees at the firm? In other words, if you match the offer of this employee, to be fair, do you need to raise the salary of several other employees at the firm out of fairness to them and the work they perform? If this is the case, matching the offer might be financially prohibitive depending on the number of other employees who would also have to get a raise to keep the pay equal for relatively equal work.
4.) If you match the offer of this departing employee, will they stay for a long while? In other words, if they stay a long while and they are infinitely valuable, then it may make sense to match the offer. But if sometime soon thereafter they are likely to get another offer elsewhere, maybe it does not make sense to match the offer if the situation is simply going to repeat itself.
The reality is that it is hard when important employees receive offers from other employers. For any law firm, it can be a tough decision to decide whether to match an offer or not. The decision on whether to match an offer or not can also impact other employees within the firm as well. It is true as well that turnover is going to happen in any workplace, including a law firm. So, you likely cannot match better employment offers every time.
While there is no right or wrong answer in terms of what to do, above are some of the considerations you should keep in mind. Just like any decision within a law firm, you want to carefully weigh these considerations and make the best possible decision.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.