Employee Poaching: Definition and Strategies to Minimize

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 21, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies may use an array of methods and tactics to find, recruit, and hire employees. Poaching employees may be one strategy that some businesses use to help them discover highly skilled professionals that can fill their open roles. Learning more about employee poaching may improve staff retention rates at the organization where you're employed. In this article, we discuss what employee poaching is, explain various tactics you can use to reduce the chances of your employees getting poached, and provide the answers to some frequently asked questions about this hiring practice.

What is employee poaching?

Employee poaching is a practice that some businesses use to hire employees who previously worked for that business's competitors. This lawful practice can help organizations attract top talent and gain a competitive edge. Poaching employees may be more common for positions or within fields where there is high demand, such as technology or health care.

Related: 13 Effective Strategies for Employee Retention (With Tips)

Strategies to minimize poached employees

Although sometimes employers do have their employees poached, there are some strategies that company leaders can take to reduce the chances of this happening. Here are some methods and tactics that may be able to help you lower the chances of employee poaching occurring at the company where you work:

Evaluate strengths

Assess what the organization's strengths are when it comes to its employees and what areas could benefit from improvement. This can help you develop a strategic plan to reduce the odds of having your employees poached. Evaluation methods might include:

  • Examining metrics related to employees, such as productivity or satisfaction rates

  • Asking employees for feedback

  • Meeting with team leaders or departmental heads

Related: What Is Inclusiveness in the Workplace? (With Benefits)

Cover educational expenses

Think about providing financial compensation for an employee's education. Covering staff members' educational expenses can demonstrate a company's investment in their future, which many employees appreciate. If a staff member feels valued by the company they work for, they might be more likely to stay employed there.

Related: Common Causes and How to Prevent High Employee Turnover

Examine your compensation

A common reason that an employee might leave the organization they currently work for and go to a competitor instead is their salary or compensation package. You might find it helpful to conduct research on your competitors and examine the average salaries or benefits they offer to their employees in similar roles.

Related: 12 Different Types of Bonuses (Definition and How They Work)

Hone the company culture

Having a robust company culture can make employees feel more included in the organization where they work. While company culture can look different in every organization, there are some strategies that can often allow businesses to foster a unique company culture, including:

  • Supporting diversity and inclusion: Supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives can help employees of all cultures and backgrounds feel like they belong at the company. This might involve hosting seminars on diversity, incorporating sensitivity training into company operations, or being transparent about issues that affect all staff members.

  • Offering recognition: Find ways to recognize positive or useful contributions of staff members. For instance, you might create a public display board where colleagues can congratulate one another on their achievements or hold quarterly awards ceremonies.

  • Holding employees accountable: Hold all employees, regardless of their field or level at the company, accountable for their actions. This can demonstrate to staff members a company's commitment to honesty.

  • Valuing employees' time and effort: Strive to have company leaders forge amiable relations with staff members, such as by encouraging supervisors to take their teams out for lunches sometimes.

Use non-compete agreements

Consider having new or existing employees at the company you work for sign non-compete agreements. Although non-compete agreements can vary in their exact terms, these contracts typically state that employees can't conduct the same job responsibilities within a particular time frame and region at a different company. Essentially, a non-compete agreement can make it more challenging for other companies to poach your employees because of a contract signed by your staff members.

Related: What Is the Sustainable Growth Rate Formula? (With Steps)

Improve employee engagement

Professionals who feel engaged by their job positions may feel more inclined to stay with the same company. Potential strategies for improving employee engagement might include allowing staff members to give feedback to their supervisors, fostering open channels of communication, and giving employees rewards for reaching particular milestones.

Related: What Are Workforce Analytics? (With Types of Analytics)

Provide career advancement opportunities

Many professionals may want to help the company they work for expand if that company invests in their career growth. You might also consider designing a mentorship program where more experienced professionals can offer career guidance to those with less experience at an organization.

Related: 12 Ways to Create a Learning Culture in the Workplace

Foster open communication

Professionals and clients alike often admire companies that uphold certain ethical standards, such as being trustworthy. If employees know that the businesses they work for try their best to be transparent, those employees may perceive that business as more honest and open with communication.

Related: How to Calculate Employee Rate of Turnover (With Examples)

Create incentives

Consider offering employees incentives to remain with the organizations that currently employ them. For example, you could create a scaffolded system of benefits, where employees can earn more paid time off the longer they stay employed at that business. These types of strategies can demonstrate to staff members the appreciation you feel and motivate them to stay.

Boost morale

Employee morale refers to the perceptions and feelings that staff members have about the business that employs them. When morale at a company is high, that can increase an employee's satisfaction with their job. Tactics for raising company morale might include encouraging a work-life balance, motivating team members, and offering valuable resources.

FAQs about poached employees

Following are the answers to some frequently asked questions about poaching employees:

Is poaching employees legal?

As of August 2022, the Competition Act states that most situations involving poaching employees are legal. In general, this law allows companies, including competitors, to poach employees from other businesses. If you have specific questions about the legality of particular poaching circumstances, it's best to consult a lawyer who's familiar with employment laws in your province.

Related: What Is BPO's Meaning? (With Types and Advantages)

What is a non-solicitation agreement?

A non-solicitation agreement is a type of legal document between a staff member and the company where they're employed. A non-solicitation agreement is when an employee promises not to contact any of the clients of their former employer if they get a new job at a competing business. This type of contract can potentially encourage employees to stay at the company they currently work for; otherwise, they'd have to create an entirely new client base.

What's the difference between poaching and headhunting?

Both headhunting and poaching are similar in that this process typically involves a hiring manager contacting a prospective job candidate first rather than the candidate initiating contact with the hiring manager. One of the primary differences between poaching and headhunting is headhunting focuses on finding potential candidates for executive positions. Another key distinction is that headhunting typically involves building long-term relationships with prospective candidates, while poaching often moves more quickly.

Related: How to Boost Employee Morale and How It Affects Employees

Why do organizations poach employees?

Some businesses attempt to poach employees to help them recruit and hire highly skilled candidates for their jobs. An employee may feel tempted to agree to the poaching because of higher earning potential or career advancement. Knowing more about the different reasons why companies might poach staff members can help you determine ways to minimize those risks occurring.

What are no-poaching agreements?

A no-poaching agreement is a type of contract that competing businesses can enter into with one another. In a no-poaching agreement, the two organizations signing the contract vow to make no attempt to recruit employees from the other's company. While no-poaching agreements can be valuable assets for competing businesses, it's important to make sure that these types of contracts comply with all relevant employment laws.

It's also a good idea to consider how both prospective and current staff members at the business you work for might feel about a no-poaching agreement. In some situations, a no-poaching agreement can prevent an employee from applying to work at a competing business even after they no longer work at the previous organization. For this reason, some professionals might prefer to sign employment contracts with businesses that don't have no-poaching agreements.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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