Seven ways to prevent staff being poached

Seven ways to prevent staff being poached

There can be push and pull factors to make employees leave. Here is what to watch


The resignation of a star employee can feel like the ultimate insult to a manager

The resignation of a star employee can feel like the ultimate insult to a manager


If you’ve got smart, talented people on your team, chances are they’ll get calls from recruiters. How should you respond when a competitor woos one of your employees?

1 Consider, but don’t rely on, noncompete agreements. Organisations have long used noncompete agreements to keep both employees from leaving and poachers at bay. But be warned, research shows they stifle performance. So, even if your organisation allows you to use these contracts, you shouldn’t rely on them.

2 Watch for signals. Research suggests that employees are more receptive to recruiters – and therefore more likely to quit – around their work anniversary dates. Be mindful of those cycles, but also watch for when an employee is turned down for a promotion or has a project postponed. Events like those make other options suddenly more attractive.

3 Take action. If you learn that one of your most valuable employees is considering leaving, find out if there are simple ways you can improve his work life. If the employee is seeking new challenges, look into options that you could provide internally.

4 Don’t jump to a counteroffer. On the surface, presenting your employee with a counteroffer seems like an obvious, easy way to make them stay. But people generally leave when they’re unhappy with work, so you could end up paying more for an unenthused employee.

5 Batten down your hatches. When a team member leaves for a competitor, an immediate concern is whether others will follow him. In the aftermath of the departure, find out what they need to stay, then do your best to deliver.

6 Be attentive to your best people. Identify the people whom you cannot afford to lose and treat them like they’re going to leave. Ask them why they stay, and what frustrates them. Then use that feedback to reinforce what works and change what doesn’t.

7 Keep it in perspective. The resignation of a star employee can feel like the ultimate insult. But turnover is inevitable and out of your control. Try and maintain your relationship with the person who left; they may want to come back some day. – (Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015)


Previously published in The Irish Times.


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