4 Ways to Guard Against Employee Poaching

While having the right employees has always been a key to organizational success, in today’s competitive marketplace it’s more essential than ever.

Case studies abound with horror stories of organizations rapidly going from “first to worst” — not because they lacked advanced technology, or due to a drop in marketplace demand, but because they didn’t have the right people.

Now, you may know this already – and that’s good. But what you may not be aware of is that your competitors know it, too. And what’s more, they’re trying to – or will try to — steal your best employees.

Your task? Guard against the four key factors that make it EASY for your competitors to poach your people:

  1. Respect the new definition of employee

    These days, your employees don’t view themselves as pieces on an organizational chart. They view themselves as mini-businesses. As such, a loyal connection between you and them cannot be assumed simply because of an employment agreement. Rather, you have to develop a relationship with them built on trust, respect and mutual benefit – just as you would with a valued business partner.

  2. Beware the rise of the professional recruiter.

    You may think you don’t have to worry about your people being poached because your competitors aren’t hiring or because you’re the only game in town – but think again. Professional recruiters are out there, too. These people are highly capable and very sophisticated professionals who enable your employees to transition to a better situation much more easily than you may imagine. They’re very good at what they do. They need to be; it’s why they get paid.

  3. Appreciate your employee’s sensitive mindset.

    These days, everyone from highly skilled professionals to entry-level interns are hyper-sensitive to signs that their job may be in jeopardy. The Great Recession and the availability of information (and not all of it accurate) on the Internet play into this. You’ll need to take steps to soothe your employees’ jangled nerves, and to pay extra attention to signals that you may be unintentionally sending out; signals that say “you’re on the way out, start looking elsewhere before you get a pink slip.”

  4. Don’t assume that your employees are permanent.

    Generally, employees have never had so many alternative job options at their fingertips. And “A Players,” by definition, are almost always on a passive job search.  And let’s not overlook the abundance of job sites that send out opportunities via email weekly, daily or even hourly. Employees no longer need to hit the “The Boss is Coming” button on Workopolis to mask their intentions. Their job search is 24/7 and it’s happening in the background.

The bottom line? The dynamic between employers and employees has profoundly and permanently changed.

It’s up to others (commentators, analysts, academics and maybe even philosophers) to decide if this change is good or bad, and for whom. The question for you is:

What are you doing to keep your employees from being poached?

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