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0812 Losing Employees to Other Companies

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 812: Losing Employees to Other Companies.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 812. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

Our website is eslpod.com. You know that, of course. You also know that if you become a member of ESL Podcast, you can download a Learning Guide. That Learning Guide is your key to better English. It's the way of improving your English faster than anything else.

Our dialogue is about when someone who works for a company gets hired by another company and leaves. This happens all the time especially to good employees. Let's get started.

[start of dialogue]

Diego: That’s three in six months!

Natalie: What’s three in six months?

Diego: That’s three of this company’s employees who have been hired away by other companies. First, there was Lamar. I wasn’t surprised that headhunters were interested in Lamar, since he was clearly a rising star.

Natalie: Yeah, Lamar was a tough loss. His unique set of skills is hard to duplicate.

Diego: You’re telling me! We haven’t been able to find a replacement. After Lamar, there was Sariah. Sariah is a classic case of brain drain. There are great jobs in McQuillanland, with lucrative pay and a low cost of living. I’m not surprised Sariah took that job.

Natalie: Sariah was very talented. We couldn’t match the offer she received and she took the better deal.

Diego: And today, Melinda tells me that she’s probably going to accept an offer from a startup that’s made her an offer she can’t refuse.

Natalie: Not Melinda, too! You know what, I think I’m finally catching on. Maybe we should be putting out feelers for better job offers ourselves.

Diego: No, not you, too! Before long, I’ll be the only one left here. I thought you’d help me talk Melinda into staying.

Natalie: No, not me. You know what they say: If you can’t beat them, join them!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Diego saying to Natalie. “That’s three in six months!” Natalie says, “What's three in six months?” Diego says, “That’s three of this company’s employees,” people who work for the company, “who have been hired away by other companies.” To “hire” (hire) away someone is a two-word, phrasal verb meaning to give someone who was working for one company a job at another company. So, company A says to one of the employees or workers at company B, “We’ll give you a job here. Why don’t you come here?” They hire that person away from the other company. Diego says, “First, there was Lamar.” Lamar is a man’s name. “I wasn’t surprised that headhunters were interested in Lamar, since he was clearly a rising star. A “headhunter” (headhunter), one word, is a person whose job it is to find people, qualified people for usually high level jobs. There are companies that do nothing but go around and find good employees for other companies and that’s what a headhunting company does – that’s what a person who works for that company, called the “headhunter,” does.

My brother, for example, was headhunted. He had a headhunter contact him about working at another company, and then he moved to another company and then he got headhunted again and so on. So, sometimes companies will hire you away. They will take you from one company and bring you to their company, and they often do that by hiring professional, really what they are, are scouts that look for good employees. Diego said that Lamar was clearly a “rising star.” A “rising star” is someone who is doing very well and has began to get a reputation. People begin to know about that person. They respect that person. And a lot of people say, “Wow, that guy, he’s real good.” No one ever says that about me, not at my company anyway!

Natalie says, “Yeah, Lamar was a tough loss.” A “loss” (loss) is when, of course, you lose something. You no longer have it. “Tough” is an adjective meaning here difficult. So, it was a difficult loss. It was hard to lose Lamar. “His unique set of skills is hard to duplicate.” Something that is “unique” (unique) is one of a kind. It is unlike anything else. There's only one of that thing. Natalie thinks that Lamar’s “set of skills,” the things he was able to do, is hard to duplicate, is hard to copy, is hard to create again.

Diego says, “You're telling me!” That expression, “You're telling me,” means yes, I understand. I already know. “We haven’t been able,” Diego says “to find a replacement.” A “replacement” for a person or a thing is something new that you use instead of the thing that you lost or the thing that is old and doesn’t work anymore. If you have an old car, you might have to get a replacement, a new car, something that you can use instead of the old car. Diego says, “After Lamar, there was Sariah. Sariah is a classic case of brain drain.” A “classic case” means a perfect example of something, an ideal example of something. For example, “The way that Derek lied to his sister is a classic case of dishonesty.” It's a good example or a great example of someone who is not honest.

“Brain drain” (drain) is the situation where the most intelligent, hardworking, best-educated people leave where they are and go to a different place. Usually we talk about this in terms of people leaving one country and going to another country, going from India to the United States or from the United States to China, whatever it is. It's when one country typically loses the best of its workers, the best of its students sometimes to another country. Diego says, “There are great jobs in McQuillanland,” which is obviously another country, a very nice country, I think, “with lucrative pay.” These great jobs have lucrative pay. “Lucrative” (lucrative) means making a lot of money, very profitable: “This sales campaign, this sales effort was lucrative.” We made a lot of money. Sometimes jobs can be lucrative and that’s why Diego says that there are great jobs in McQuillanland with lucrative pay, meaning you'll get paid a lot of money “and a low cost of living.” That means it's cheap to live in this different country. Diego says, “I'm not surprised Sariah took that job.”

Natalie says, “Sariah was very talented. We couldn’t match the offer she received and she took the better deal.” To “match” (match) means in this case to do something at the same level or extent as someone or something else. I can never match the performance of great singers when I sing their songs here on the podcast. I can't match that level. I can't be at the same level. Natalie says that her company could not match the offer, meaning the amount of money the other company said they would pay her, and so Sariah took the “better deal,” the better offer, the better job.

Diego continues, “And today, Melinda tells me that she’s probably going to accept an offer from a startup that’s made her an offer she can't refuse.” A “startup” is a new company, is a new company that has been established very recently. Often it’s associated with technology, especially here in California, we talk about “startups,” we're often referring to technology companies or Internet companies, but it could really be any new company. This startup offered Melinda “an offer she can't refuse.” This expression, “an offer you can't refuse,” is something that is so good you cannot say “no.” It's so attractive, it’s so desirable that it's impossible to say “no” to it.

It became popular in a movie called The Godfather many years ago, when the star of the movie, Marlon Brando – at least this is what people think happened in the movie, I don’t know if it actually happens in the movie, I think it does – he says, “I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse.” I'm going to give you such a good situation you're going to say “yes.” But there's a little bit of comedy there because of course, if you're Marlon Brando and you're a gangster, someone who does illegal things, you may not be able to refuse because if you do he’ll kill you, so that could be happening, too, but not in our dialogue. No one dies in our dialogues (usually). Well, cats sometimes die, but usually no one dies in our dialogue.

Natalie says, “Not Melinda, too! You know what, I think I'm finally catching on.” To “catch on” is a phrasal verb meaning to begin to understand especially something that other people around you already understand. Natalie says, “Maybe we should be putting out feelers for better job offers ourselves.” To “put out feelers” means to let other people know that you're looking for a job. You don’t go and knock on their door or email them and say “I want a job.” You just let people know who you think may be hiring in the future that, yes, you’d be interested perhaps in working for their company. That’s to put out “feelers” (feelers).

Diego says, “No, not you, too! Before long (or very soon), I'll be the one left here (I'll be the only one still at this company).” “I thought you’d help me talk Melinda into staying.” To “talk someone into something” means to convince or persuade someone to do something, often something that they may not really want to do.

Natalie says, “No, not me. You know what they say: If you can't beat them, join them!” This expression which is normally pronounced “if you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em”, where we kind of drop the “th” sound of “them,” means that if you are in a situation where the people who disagree with you or who are your enemies are stronger, it's best to just stop fighting and instead join them – do what they are doing, give up your position, give up your opposition. So, if you can't beat them, if you can't defeat them, then you should join them. You should become one of them. You should become part of them. That’s the idea.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Diego: That’s three in six months!

Natalie: What’s three in six months?

Diego: That’s three of this company’s employees who have been hired away by other companies. First, there was Lamar. I wasn’t surprised that headhunters were interested in Lamar, since he was clearly a rising star.

Natalie: Yeah, Lamar was a tough loss. His unique set of skills is hard to duplicate.

Diego: You’re telling me! We haven’t been able to find a replacement. After Lamar, there was Sariah. Sariah is a classic case of brain drain. There are great jobs in McQuillanland, with lucrative pay and a low cost of living. I’m not surprised Sariah took that job.

Natalie: Sariah was very talented. We couldn’t match the offer she received and she took the better deal.

Diego: And today, Melinda tells me that she’s probably going to accept an offer from a startup that’s made her an offer she can’t refuse.

Natalie: Not Melinda, too! You know what, I think I’m finally catching on. Maybe we should be putting out feelers for better job offers ourselves.

Diego: No, not you, too! Before long, I’ll be the only one left here. I thought you’d help me talk Melinda into staying.

Natalie: No, not me. You know what they say: If you can’t beat them, join them!

[end of dialogue]

We're lucky here at ESL Podcast that our rising star, Lucy Tse, has not been hired away. Thank you, Lucy, for your scripts.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to hire away – to give a job to someone who was working for another company, so that he or she has to leave that other company

* The company grew by hiring away all of the best employees at its main competitors.

headhunter – a person whose job is to find qualified people for challenging, high-level jobs, primarily by contacting people who are working in similar jobs at other companies

* Dana was surprised and flattered to receive a call from a headhunter about an executive position with an international company.

rising star – someone who is doing very well and advancing in a particular field or industry, gaining valuable experience and respect

* Melesa is a rising star in local theatrical productions and she’s thinking about moving to Hollywood.

tough loss – something that is difficult to say goodbye to or difficult to realize and accept that one no longer has; something that one has lost, but wishes one still had

* When the hurricane destroyed the orange trees, it was a tough loss for local farmers.

unique – unlike anything else; one of a kind; distinct

* This artwork is so unique! I’ve never seen anything like it.

to duplicate – to copy; to do something exactly the same, or to create an exact copy

* Bryan spends hours at the golf course, trying to duplicate what he did the day he hit a hole in one.

replacement – something new that is used instead of something else, especially when the thing that was used previously is old, undesirable, or broken; a person who is hired for a job when the person who previously worked in that job leaves it

* Nancy’s camera broke, so now she has to shop for a replacement.

classic case – a perfect example of something

* The way Derek lied to his sister is a classic case of dishonesty.

brain drain – the phenomenon where the most intelligent, hardest working, and best educated people leave a country to accept better, higher-paying jobs in another country

* The government is trying to create programs that will stop and reverse the brain drain by encouraging the country’s best students to work for local companies.

lucrative – profitable; making a lot of money

* This deal could be really lucrative for our company.

to match – to do something to the same level or extent as someone or something else; to do something comparable

* He gave Wendy a car for her birthday, but there’s no way she can match that for his next birthday.

startup – a new company that was established or founded very recently and still needs to prove that it can be successful

* Yukihiro refuses to invest in startup companies, preferring larger, more established companies.

an offer (one) can’t refuse – a proposal, suggestion or offer that is so attractive and desirable that it is difficult or impossible to say ‘no’

* The power company wants to buy the land for its new transmission lines, so its making an offer the property owners can’t refuse.

to catch on – to begin to understand, especially something that other people already understand or are already doing

* It took Ro a few weeks to catch on to how things were done in the new office.

to put out feelers – to subtly or quietly look for information, especially about job openings, but without asking directly or in a way that attracts a lot of attention

* Even if you love your job, it’s a good idea to put out feelers and know what other job opportunities are available in your field.

to talk (someone) into – to convince or persuade someone to do something

* We tried, but we couldn’t talk Quincy into selling us her car.

If you can’t beat them, join them – a phrase used to mean that if one’s enemies or the people one does not agree with have a stronger position, it’s best to stop fighting against them and instead do what they are doing

* A: I thought you said you’d never have a TV in your home.

B: Well, everyone else does and the kids were begging for a TV. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Comprehension Questions
1. Where is Melinda going to work?
a) At one of the company’s biggest competitors.
b) At a company that creates ignition switches.
c) At a new company.

2. What will Natalie do if she puts out feelers?
a) She’ll quit her job and start applying for jobs at other companies.
b) She’ll try to learn what other job opportunities are available.
c) She’ll ask her boss for a raise and a promotion.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
match

The verb “to match,” in this podcast, means to do something to the same level or extent as someone or something else, or to do something comparable: “Ayla is a very fast worker and nobody can match her productivity.” The verb “to match” can also mean for two things to look nice together, especially if they have the same color or pattern: “Does this scarf match my dress?” Sometimes the verb “to match” means to make pairs, or to put two similar things together: “The hardest part of doing laundry is matching the socks to put them away!” Finally, the phrase “to match (someone) up with (someone)” means to arrange for two people to meet each other because one thinks they will develop a romantic relationship: “Thank you so much for matching me up with Susanna. She’s wonderful!”

to talk (someone) into

In this podcast, the phrase “to talk (someone) into” means to persuade or convince someone to do or believe something: “How did they talk you into investing thousands of dollars in such a risky project?” The phrase “to talk (someone) out of” has the opposite meaning: “He wanted to buy a motorcycle, but his girlfriend talked him out of it.” The phrase “to talk (someone’s) ear off” means to talk too much, without giving the other person an opportunity to speak: “Ingrid is nice, but she’ll talk your ear off and you won’t be able to end the conversation.” Finally, the phrase “to talk some sense into (someone)” means to persuade someone to be more logical and do what is rational: “Thank goodness you were able to talk some sense into Peter so he won’t drop out of school!”

Culture Note
Executive Search Companies

Companies spend a lot of time and money “recruiting” (searching for a new employee) and “hiring” (giving a job to) employees, particularly “executives” (the top leaders and managers in a company). Many companies “turn to” (decide to get help from) “executive search companies” for the recruitment of their most important “positions” (jobs).

Many executive search companies specialize in a particular “industry” or “field.” For example, they might be expert headhunters for positions in “IT” (information technology) or the energy “sector” (field). Executive search firms have a lot of local, regional, and international “connections” (business relationships) and can “reach out to” (contact) individuals with the “requisite” (required; needed; necessary) skills and experience.

One of the “main” (primary; most important) advantages of working with an executive search firm instead of recruiting “candidates” (people who are being considered for a job) itself is that the executive search firm usually has more contacts within the industry, so it can find qualified candidates more quickly than the company could working alone. An executive search firm can also reach out to “prospective” (potential; possible) candidates without “disclosing” (revealing; showing) which company is hiring. This lets companies recruit individuals working for their competitors without attracting a lot of unwanted attention.

Most executive search companies are paid in one of two ways. They might be paid “on contingency,” meaning that they receive a fee only if their candidate is hired. The fee might be a percentage of the candidate’s salary in the first year. Other executive search companies work “on retainer,” meaning that they receive a certain amount of money for their recruitment efforts, regardless of whether a candidate is hired.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - b