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Recruiting is a difficult task for many companies today. Recruiting mistakes are easy to make, and thanks to the demand for workers with digital skill sets, competition for talent is fierce.

That competition isn't only making it harder for companies to find and recruit the employees they need to grow their businesses, it's also increasing one of the things that keeps many CEOs awake at night: employee poaching.

While there's no way to keep your most valuable employees from being lured to greener pastures, the good news for companies is that they can increase the odds that their employees will resist poaching attempts. Here are five ways.

1. Avoid a "hear no evil, see no evil" mentality

While there are a number of reasons your employees might be receptive to other job offers, one of the biggest is one that's easy to brush aside: some of your employees may have a less-than-ideal level of job satisfaction. When this is the case, there's a good chance you know it because the signs, although subtle in and of themselves, usually become noticeable over time.

Unfortunately, it's often easier to ignore the elephant in the room than to confront it head on which can be a fatal mistake as unhappy employees are prime poaching targets.

2. Be careful about what you promise

How you sell new hires on your company can significantly influence whether they become vulnerable to poachers. For instance, if you insinuate that the stock options you're granting will lead to riches in the near future, you had better hope that you're right. If your promises don't materialize as you suggested they would, your disillusioned employees will be far more likely to consider other employment opportunities.

3. Reward bad behavior at your own peril

In today's talent wars, it's tempting to fight tooth and nail to keep employees from leaving. In some cases, when faced with an employee who has received a job offer from another firm, companies will respond with an even better offer of their own. While this is tempting approach (if you can afford it), and it may even be sensible with some key employees, it can set a bad precedent that encourages other employees to seek out offers of their own with the assumption that they can use them to negotiate higher compensation.

4. Treat employee relationships like marriage

Ask anyone married for many years and chances are they'll tell you: finding The One and getting married is relatively easy compared to keeping a marriage going strong. The same is true for employer-employee relationships, many of which fail because both parties become complacent and take the other for granted.

Don't allow that to happen: make the effort to remind your employees that you care and the chances they'll seek love from a new company will decrease dramatically.

5. Don't hire job-hoppers

In many digital industries, career employees are hard to come by. And that's okay. But when hiring, it's wise to cast a suspicious eye on prospects who have jumped from job to job. If a potential hire's MO has been to stay with a company no more than a year or two, there's no reason to expect that pattern will stop with you.

Image credit: fistful of talent

Patricio Robles

Published 17 August, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2392 more posts from this author

Comments (14)

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eJean1981

The answer is simple. Treat people well, pay them well, and they will be less likely to leave.

about 4 years ago

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John Smith

Communication tends to be at the root of most problems between managers and employees. Whether its a lack of communication or poor quality of it. Relationships between managers and employees depend on communication being reciprocal and well thought out.

about 4 years ago

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mcs

I disagree on the last point. There can be lots of reasons a person moves jobs every 1-2 years including all of the above plus contracts, redundancy (2 in a row for me & a contract for a year before that). So I would actually finesse the point with "find out why" rather than a blanket warning claxon!

about 4 years ago

Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble, Marketing Director at Koozai

In my opinion, you just need to keep your employees happy, treat them fairly and listen to what they have to say.

When building a team of people it is important that you recruit people that will fit in with the already existing team.

Totally agree with the comment above about communication. It is important that all team members, regardless of their level within the organisation are approachable.

I would also recommend offering training courses to people where required and putting fun and achievable incentive schemes in place to reward meeting KPIs.

about 4 years ago

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Ketharaman Swaminathan

Re. 'Avoid a "hear no evil, see no evil" mentality
... there's a good chance you know it because the signs, although subtle in and of themselves, usually become noticeable over time.' In today's world, the early warning signs appear on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, especially from the younger employees. Our HEATMAP360 social media sentiment analysis application helps companies spot disgruntled employees very quickly, so that they can engage with them and avoid ignoring "the elephant in the room" syndrome, as this article advises correctly.

about 4 years ago

Steve Morgan

Steve Morgan, Freelance SEO Consultant at Morgan Online Marketing

Great post, Patricio. Also, eJean1981's hit the nail on the head for me. It baffles me when I see an employer treat their employees like dirt but is then surprised when their employees want to leave. You get what you give... Treat people well, they'll treat you well in return with their loyalty and dedication. Don't treat people well? Well...

about 4 years ago

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Daniel

Money is important but I'd say the thing that makes people more unhappy in a company is a bad atmosphere resulting from fostering excessive competitiveness and hiring self-centred idiots. Semi-horizontal organisations composed of people that have the ability to be part of something greater than themselves are usually a great place to work.

about 4 years ago

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Sudeep Singh

All above are very valuable inputs. Great to read this conversation. Indeed it gives sleepless nights to CEOs in today's world whenever they are hit by the fear of poaching.
I think we need to make sure following :
1. Engagement : The most important thing is to make sure your team, regardless of their levels are engaged in the company's motive and goals.
2. Participation : Each employee should be given a chance to participate towards planning to achieve goals. This increases the ownership to a great extent.
3. Recognition : Managers should never be miser with appreciation and recognition of the good work. Just a small huddle and a praise statement of the employee in the group boosts the morale 10 times and gets the employee closer to the organisation. Always remember we all as human being are praise and recognition hungry. Don't miss any chance to let your employees know how much organisation appreicate their hard work and contribution towards the company goals.
4. Interest Alignment : A smart CEO/manager will always align the interest of the company with the interest of the employee. A mutual benefit is the base of a long term association.

I am sure we all know all this, what we miss is putting this in practice. Isn't it :-)

about 4 years ago

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Tyler Vautier

RE: Don't hire job-hoppers.

While I agree with the principle of this idea as fleety people will usually remain fleety, I caution against this as a hiring tool. There are many reasons for employees to move after 1-2 years. The most important of which is as they improve their skill sets they find their current position less difficult and look for new challenges. Moving to a new business is usually the best way of doing this.

So; yes, be cautious of people who move regularly, but be aware that you may be missing out on all the training/experience they have and a desire to master new challenges.

-Tyler

about 4 years ago

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Elizabeth

Number 5 is not necessarily true. My CV reads like a 'job hopper' but that has only served to broaden my experience. After a year or two years of doing an excellent job and not seeing a reward for efforts (financial or otherwise) only a fool would stick around for longer. For the record I've now found a job that pays fairly and where I am made to feel valued and I have no intention of going anywhere for the foreseeable. It's not rocket science.

about 4 years ago

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Sophie

I often get overlooked because at a glance my CV looks like I have hopped about when in actual fact I have been a contractor. I have always been offered fantastic opportunities which I have never wanted to miss. Unfortunately, due to the economic climate the departments can't afford to keep me on permanently (although many have tried to open the purse strings).

What people don't see is that I was extremely valued and I was loyal member of the team.

While it is good to remain cautious about those that have moved often, don't rule them out as there may be valid reasons.

about 4 years ago

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Colin Wilcox

This couldnt be truer. I have worked for different companies, one promised the world to get staff on board as they were a startup.. and delivered nothing to those who took the risk, instead decide to offer better t&C deals to people who came onboard down the line. Many of the technical staff just walked out. The second company failed to head warnings about a particular PM who was unsuitable for the role he was in. Even after almost 30 complaints across the company nothing was done, as a result an entire development team (a dozen engineers) left over a six month period. Companies need to listen to their staff more as this will become commonplace as the job market is buoyant at the moment

about 4 years ago

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Colin Wilcox

I think the blanket rule of job hoppers is too generaL. Ive been made redundant three times since 2009 - all down to the fact the business i worked for had a shortfall in order and they cut the most expensive staff (who funnily tend to be the most experienced). None of which were in my control.

Another factor to consider is companies who employ non-technical people in technical management roles. Thus annoying technical people who work their way up the ladder only to find their way blocked by salespeople or marketeers who had no clue about the role they are doing. This seems to be very common in the IT world at the moment, especially mobile development where 'new media' is seems as the panacia and a non-technical arena.

about 4 years ago

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Ignition seo

I think the principles are simple on this - pay people what they're worth and make them feel valued. If you fail on these two you're almost certain to lose good staff members.

about 4 years ago

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