Getting into a bidding war over an employee may not be a practical or feasible option for you. So, how should you respond when a competitor starts luring one of your employees?
Read on to learn why companies poach employees and how it works. Along with this, we’ll also share eight proven strategies to help you prevent poaching and win the talent war.
Why do companies poach employees?
Employee poaching, when successful, is the shortest way to success.
Job poachers look for thriving workers with a specific skill set that could be beneficial to the poacher’s company. Instead of spending time and money on building their current employees‘ skills or recruiting and onboarding new employees, they can reap the rewards immediately by attracting top-tier talent from another company.
Aside from saving time and resources, here are the other reasons why companies poach employees:
- Access to new skills and knowledge: Companies get access to new skills and knowledge that may not be available within their current workforce. This can be particularly useful in industries that are rapidly evolving or where technological advancements are constantly changing the landscape.
- Gain a competitive edge: Companies get insights into their competitors’ strategies, processes and operations by hiring the latter’s key employees, giving them a competitive edge. Thereafter, they can use the insights to develop new products or services, improve existing products and processes, and enhance their market positioning.
- Increased market share: Another advantage of hiring employees from competitors is the access to the latter‘s customer base and industry contacts. This allows companies to poach employees to increase their existing market share.
Also, employee poaching is legal—unethical, maybe—but certainly legal.
Employees are free to make their own decisions, and it's something you need to respect. If you don’t want your employees going elsewhere, consider leveraging data-driven recruitment to create positive job experiences. This will ultimately drive employee engagement and employee retention.
How employee poaching works
Recruiters and employers approach skilled employees from other companies, usually with the offer of better pay and more incentives/benefits, to entice them to join their workforce.
For example, a marketing professional working at a marketing agency may receive a job offer with higher pay from another rival marketing agency. If they accept the proposal, they are considered to have been poached.
That said, money isn’t always the only motivation.
Employees that allow themselves to be poached may also desire opportunities to learn new skills and work for renowned employers that they can later add to their resumes and improve their chances of securing better positions in the future.
Keeping this in mind, let's understand what measures you can take to prevent poaching.
8 strategies to deal with employee poaching
You can’t do much to keep your competition from luring your valuable employees, but what you can do is take measures that make it likely for employees to resist any poaching attempts made by rivals.
Here are 8 proven strategies to effectively deal with employee poaching:
1. Identify engagement drivers
Think about what matters the most to your employees. What do they value?
The number on the paycheck and employee benefits offerings are significant factors, but are there many other motivations to entice employees to stay at your company? This can include career progression, taking on more responsibilities, having more authority, paid time off, scheduling flexibility and opportunities to learn new skills.
While we recommend analyzing your organization’s HR metrics for insights, you can also get them straight from the source through employee feedback. Trust us; it's a game-changer that can lead to informed decision-making and help you retain your best employees.
Consider creating focus groups with your top-performing employees. This will allow you to initiate conversations and gain valuable insights into what your employees appreciate about the workplace and what factors are likely to encourage them to stay.
Think of it as a proactive way to address issues and improve your company culture, which ultimately benefits both you and the employees.
2. Stay up to date with industry standards
Find out the going market rate for positions in your industry.
This will tell you whether you’re providing employees competitive salaries, benefits and incentives—and if not, adjust your current pay and benefits packages to make your competitors less appealing to employees.
3. Focus on more 1:1 interactions
Take a long, hard look at your managers. Do they know how to lead conversations centered around your employee’s professional and personal progress?
When managers take an active interest in the members, it creates an increased sense of belonging for employees. As the popular networking quote goes, “The single greatest ‘people skill’ is a highly developed and authentic interest in the other person.“
Encourage managers to hold one-on-one meetings, especially if you have a remote workforce. This will allow managers to work with the employee and create a career path that gives the latter something to work towards. Have them outline what’s possible to achieve on the job, along with the necessary steps to help the employee arrive at the intended destination.
4. Prioritize employee engagement
Did you know 90% of employees are willing to take a pay cut for a job they find meaningful?
Meaningful work is admittedly subjective, but generally speaking, it’s when employees feel valued and like that they’re more than a number in the system, making it more likely for them to stick around.
How can you engage your employees? Offer additional career development opportunities and encourage them to participate in team-building activities. You should also have an employee recognition system in place to reward the hard workers on your team.
5. Provide training and mentorship
The key to avoiding employee poaching is building a strong sense of partnership between you and your employees. And what better way to do this than investing in your team’s long-term success through training and mentorship?
Provide your current employees with yearly education benefits and customized training programs. This will not only prove to your employees that you’re invested in their growth and success but also cultivate feelings of loyalty and attachment within them.
Another benefit of cultivating an environment of continuous learning is the tighter bond between you and your employees. By mapping out personalized training plans during career path discussions, you make it harder for your best employers to leave when the competitors come knocking.
6. Promote work-life balance
The growing market competition has blurred the line between work and rest.
Keep your employees happy by respecting their limits. Create a healthy workplace culture that encourages flexibility and engagement and promotes an optimal work-life balance. Another good solution is to offer flexible or alternate work hours—or, whenever possible, allow remote or work-from-home options.
7. Avoid hiring serial job hoppers
In today’s competitive market, finding talented and highly efficient candidates for open positions isn’t an easy task. Still, when evaluating potential hires, you must be extra cautious.
Closely analyze a candidate’s work history, going beyond impressive credentials. If you find someone has stayed with multiple companies for just a year or two, treat it as a red flag. Likely, this person may not be loyal or committed to you in the long term in the pursuit of new opportunities.
Another way to gauge a person’s behavior is to ask for recommendation letters at the time of hiring. After all, it’s highly unlikely that past employers will write shining recommendations for poached employees. You can also consider working with a staffing agency, to save time and get access to suitable candidates from the get-go.
8. Leverage no-poaching and non-compete agreements
A no-poaching agreement and a non-compete agreement are both excellent ways of protecting your business’s biggest assets—your employees—and intellectual property.
A no-poaching agreement is between companies from the same industry agreeing to not recruit each other’s employees. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved, as each business gets to keep its best employees while preventing employees from seeking similar opportunities elsewhere.
On the other hand, a non-compete agreement is between an organization and its employees, prohibiting the latter from working for a direct competitor for a certain length of time (a few months at most) after their employment ends. This prevents employees from sharing proprietary information with competitors and eliminates potential employee poaching issues.
Invest in your employees to prevent poaching
Employee poaching is a reality of today's corporate world. Instead of getting annoyed by it, you should embrace it and take active measures to impress and engage employees. Aim to provide an experience that makes them unwilling to change companies.
Start by finding out what matters most to your employees, and set 1:1 meetings to discuss career growth plans and professional development. Make sure your compensation and benefits are up to the market standards.
Aside from these, you can also go the extra step and leverage well-drawn non-compete and no-poaching agreements as an extra precaution.