Losing top talent is arguably one of the worst fears for any employer. After spending so much time and money finding, recruiting, onboarding, and training employees, it’s understandably disheartening when they leave; especially when they leave your company to join a competitor. This is what happens when companies poach employees—they look for top performers in other companies and try to convince them to leave their current job for a new position.
Poaching can be done in a multitude of ways, and either subtly and overtly. Some companies rely on recruiting agencies or headhunters who actively go after key staff members in specific industries. Some set their eyes on someone and start a kind of courting process, enticing him or her with promises of bonuses, better hours, and additional perks. Even when it’s subtle, poaching is not something to be ignored by any company.
Employee poaching is even more prevalent in certain specialized industries, such as IT and software development. In these industries, employees are often asked to sign a clause in their contract agreeing not to seek employment with a direct competitor for a certain amount of time after they leave their job. They may also be asked to sign a Non-Compete Agreement, whereby former employees can’t use your business methods while working at a rival company or by starting their own, for a period of time.
While you want to put some safety measures in place, in some cases companies have gone too far to try to avoid employee poaching. Take the case of Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Intel, and Apple, which for years have been plagued with litigation over secret agreements to prevent them from recruiting each other’s employees. While it’s understandable that these companies, which rely on such tech-savvy employees, would like to protect themselves from poaching, the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that these agreements restricted competition for workers in the industry and were therefore anti-competitive and illegal under federal antitrust laws.
Instead of focusing on ways to prevent employee poaching and guarding employees against competitors—which may even turn out to be illegal—employers should focus on keeping their employees happy in their positions. After all, poaching is closely related to employee retention, since employees wouldn’t succumb to poachers and leave if they were 100% happy in their current positions.
Here are five ways your company can keep its employees happy and less likely to be poached by your competitors.
Remember, keeping employees satisfied and moving forward in their careers will help thwart poachers’ efforts. What are some ways your company has dealt with employee poaching?