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You’ve heard of it, you may have done it, or you may have had it done to you. What are we talking about? Employee poaching! In this tight employment market, this is a common and tempting practice, but what are the pitfalls and how can you prevent having your employees scooped up by your competitors?

The Dangers of Poaching

There are endless articles circulating the internet about “how to poach currently employed candidates”, “the ethics and etiquette of employee poaching”, and so on. We get it, sometimes it’s what you feel you need to do to fill the empty seats on your team. Many of our clients have even had us assess candidates they were trying to poach from another employer. But let me tell you, the results were never pretty.

There is one commonality among all the soon-to-be-poached candidates that we’ve assessed in recent months, and that is a low future focus. The assessment results indicated that these individuals had not taken the time to think about and plan for their future. They didn’t have clear goals, and they were generally pessimistic about their future direction. Not only does this result in low energy and drive to perform, but it is clearly a factor that makes them an easy poaching target. Why? Because if you don’t know what you want or don’t have your sight set on something, you will be attracted to any interesting opportunity that comes along – hence why these individuals were interested in the offers of our clients.

Some of these individuals even had the skills and competencies to do their job well and were highly engaged with the work they were doing for their current employer. So why were they even considering leaving their current position? The answer again is low future focus. If they are not committed to their current employer, you can’t expect them to be loyal to you!

So, what did we tell our clients about these individuals? Of course, everyone is different, so the narrative was never exactly the same. But the number one concern we pointed out to our clients about every one of these candidates was “if you do not work on goal setting and related planning to boost their clarity and focus on their future at your company, there is a high risk they will be just as easily poached from your company or be susceptible to a counter-offer from their last employer”.

Poaching Prevention

Now you may be wondering how you can reduce the risk of your own employees being poached by another company. Here are a few tips to help with that:

  • Hire the right people in the first place. There is a lot that goes into defining the “right” employee, but the factors we typically consider at STM are
  • Whether or not they have the competencies and attitudes required to do the job
  • How well they fit your culture
  • How clear they are about their future direction and how well their goals align with what you can offer them at your company.
  • Talk to your employees often. Do you know what your employees want in their future? Have you discussed with them a path to get them there? Do you know what they’re struggling with day to day that’s having a negative impact on their satisfaction and engagement? Talk to your people! If they’re not on the path they want to be, or they’re unhappy in their role, not talking to them is a missed opportunity to course correct before they leave for your competition.
  • Employee surveys. Not every employee feels comfortable raising their concerns one on one. An anonymous survey can be a great way to take the pulse of your employees and identify things that may need to be improved within your company and help you increase engagement across the board.

Again, “poachability” does not always correlate with dissatisfaction with one’s responsibilities and duties, poor company culture, or a bad manager. But it almost always has to do with lacking a clear vision for the future. So have these conversations about future goals and expectations before you hire to make sure new employees are driven to achieve their goals at your company. Keep these conversations going to ensure obstacles do not pop up along the way.

Has poaching been a concern for you? Need help defining a clear vision for the future?

Get in touch with us! We’d be happy to answer your questions, help you define your vision, and help you with your employee poaching issues.

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