Some companies will do anything to keep a valued employee.
'Since there's no help for it, come - let us kiss and part.' The poets do these things best, but can British executives afford the same elegant pragmatism when faced with the resignation of valued employees, or should they try everything to keep such people?
'If they're going to a better job, we've got to encourage them even if it means pain for us,' says Roger McKechnie of The Samling, a conference venue in the Lake district. 'It always pays off in the end.' The point is underlined by Heidi Riley, managing director of trailer manufacturer Indespension. 'If they've made their mind up, we're inclined to let them go. We encourage people to do what is best for them, and if an individual leaves to advance his career, he may well come back to us in due course - we never close the doors.'
The number of companies bribing people to stay (especially in IT) has risen dramatically over the last year, says recruitment specialist Richard Robinson, of Robinson Keane: 'One client offered a job to an IT manager who was given another £5,000 to stay with his existing employer. The next candidate was given £10,000 as well as a promotion. In fact, if an individual my client wanted was not given an incentive to refuse the offer, I'd be seriously worried,' says Robinson.
Similarly, an employer whose key people don't receive offers from time to time must also wonder why not. In the highly competitive field of corporate law, conspicuously good lawyers are approached regularly by headhunters.
And after a takeover, for example, there are bound to be resignations - the managing partner of newly-merged firm Dibb Lupton Alsop, Paul Nicholls, recently had to deal with a number. 'People are rarely motivated by money alone. I have to convince people that their best long-term prospects are with us ... by persuading them that the firm is better managed, has a greater reputation among their peers and, incidentally, is better rewarded.'
Occasionally, individuals will try to improve their situation by threatening resignation. Gervase Dodd, director of group personnel services at brewers Greenalls, says, 'I'm not conscious of people being so deliberately manipulative, but people sometimes let it be known that they have had offers: "Of course I don't want to leave but ...".' McKechnie is uncompromising over blackmail: 'I won't ever allow it; once you give in, it ruins the atmosphere. I just say goodbye.' It might be a problem rather than a better offer that prompts a move.
'One would like to think we'd know about problems, but people can be remarkably good at hiding things,' says Dodd.' And Mike Mitchell of Symtol Engineering is 'resigned' to a laissez-faire approach: 'If it gets to the stage when the individual puts in his resignation, you've left it too bloody late.'