C-Suite Advisory

How to Prevent Your Best People From Being Poached

Talent Management

Companies are in desperate need of talent. Do you know where they’re getting it? They’re blatantly STEALING it from companies like yours! And up until now, there’s been nothing you can do about it.

In a recent pollnearly two-thirds (64%) of survey participants said, within the last 12 months, they were approached either directly or indirectly about a job opportunity from one of their main competitors. 64%!!! They’re sucking the lifeblood right out your organization, and most companies aren’t doing a single thing about it. Even worse – most aren’t even aware it’s happening! It shouldn’t be this way. What if you could create a force field around your organization that prevents others from pulling out your superstars?

Here’s where to begin.

Give Your People a Reason to Stay. Until recently, a paycheck was certainly enough reason for workers to stay with their employers. Just about everyone knew someone who had jumped over to another firm, who soon found themselves the first out the door the moment there was a staff cutback. Remaining with your current employer, even if you couldn’t stand working there, seemed like the safest option.

It’s incredible how quickly life has changed in the world of work. The economy is humming again and today’s workers are feeling more secure than they have felt in ages. They now have tons of work choices and are no longer fearful of becoming unemployed.

I have found that the best way to get people to stay is to find out what’s important to them, both personally and professionally. I’m not talking about doing another engagement survey, which will most likely sit on the back credenza along with the other survey results. I’m recommending you personally connect with your people.

Leave your corner office and have a face-to-face conversation with your employees. Ask them why they have chosen to come to your company as well as why they remain. Most will be brutally honest, especially if they sense you are really interested in their response. Then do something with this information, even if it means going back to the employee and telling him or her why you may not be able to change things. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. Do this several times a week and don’t stop until you have a clear understanding of what makes your organization a place where people want to work.

Court Your People Every Day. Neither you nor I can predict the day(s) your people will receive a call from a third-party recruiter about a job that sounds too good to refuse. That’s why it’s important to court your people everyday. Here’s what I mean by this.

Surprise employees by doing something nice daily. This can be as simple as pulling the team together for a morning huddle, to thank them for a job well done or providing employees with tickets to an event that’s of interest to them. Notice how I didn’t say tickets to a sporting event. I’ve personally been the recipient of many free tickets to sporting events that I couldn’t wait to unload.

Coach your managers to do the same, as I have found that the best intentions often get lost in the middle of the organization. Middle managers may not have the experience truly connecting with people or feel empowered to spend resources on those they most value.

Invest In the Development of Your People. One of the best ways to create a force field around your organization is to invest in the development of your people. Today’s workers, especially the Millennials, who now outnumber Baby Boomers in the workplace, are particularly interested in working for firms that invest in the personal development of their people.

Young people today are already planning their exit before starting their first day of work. Companies who provide workers with access to mentors and coaches will be sending a clear message that personal development matters. I can tell you from experience that this isn’t happening in a lot of places. Assigning mentors and/or coaches to your best people will give you an edge and help you keep the people you’ve worked so hard to find. You’ll also have a higher performing workforce.

Compensate People Fairly. If I had a dime for every time I heard the phrase, “Money doesn’t matter,” I would be rich. Money does matter, especially when an employee doesn’t feel he or she is being compensated fairly for the value they are bringing to the organization.

I suggest you begin by blowing up your current compensation system. In all likelihood, it’s not working. Trying to slice up a three percent merit increase across the board and doing so fairly is the same as trying to divide the last piece of pie among a table of eight. In the end, no one will be satisfied.

Starting salaries have increased dramatically and most likely your old salary ranges are no longer relevant. I strongly recommend that you engage the services of a compensation firm to provide you guidance in this area and to help you update your pay ranges before your employees start heading out the door to join another firm who appears to have deeper pockets.

Welcome Employees Back into the Fold. Sometimes, no matter what you do, people will still choose to depart. However, it’s not uncommon that they will soon find the grass is not greener on the other side. Saying the following, when a valued employee gives notice, may indeed be your best tool to prevent others from following suit. “We are sorry to see you go. We hope one day you will return.” Doing so, will let the employee know that it’s okay to return. And if they do decide to come back, you can bet they will tell others what life is really like outside your firm.


Roberta Matuson, The Talent Maximizer® and President of Matuson Consulting, helps organizations achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. Learn more about her latest book Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best and her bestselling book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around. Sign up to receive her free newsletter, The Talent Maximizer. Follow her on Twitter.

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