How do you stop your best employees being poached by your competitors?

As CEO of an organisation, losing your best fee earner or your most talented employee is very frustrating. After spending so much time and money, finding, recruiting, coaching and training employees, it’s understandably disheartening when they leave; especially when they leave your company to join a competitor.

Some organisations go to great lengths to ensure that their employees are bound by complex contracts with non-compete clauses and enforced gardening leave.

These may or may not be part of a solution, but instead of focusing on ways to prevent employee poaching and guarding employees from competitors (which may even turn out to be illegal) employers would do better to focus their efforts on keeping their employees happy in their positions. After all, poaching is closely related to employee retention, since employees wouldn’t succumb to poachers and leave, if they were 100% happy in their current positions.

What can you do about this?

Here are five ways your organisation can keep its employees happy and less likely to be poached by your competitors.

  1. Offer a competitive salary. You will not keep them and motivate them just by offering a spectacular financial package. However, people have families to support and mortgages to pay so you do need to offer them above the going rate.
  1. Motivate and engage. Employees who feel undervalued or unappreciated are more likely to leave. Nobody likes to feel that the contributions they make to their company are going unnoticed. Consider implementing ways to let employees know that their work and their particular talents are valued. We know that positive reinforcement about our abilities helps increase performance and employee engagement. So praise people when they’ve done a good job and encourage them to do the same with their direct reports.
  1. Promote balance. We spend a lot of our time at work each week, especially these days when work doesn’t really end in the office anymore. Creating a culture that encourages employee engagement and a healthy work-life balance will help keep your employees happier and less likely to leave. Explore the possibilities of flexi-time, alternative work hours and working from home. These options are all ways your organisation can help employees to have a better balance in their life and work.
  1. Communicate your vision. Ensure that your employees understand the big picture for your organisation and consciously open up the channels of communication between employees and the decision-makers. This can help employees feel more involved: they feel that they play a bigger role in the company and are genuine stakeholders. There is the story of the man sweeping the floor at the NASA space station. When asked what he was doing he replied “I’m helping to put a man on the moon”.
  1. Encourage growth. Many employees leave their jobs because they don’t see a future for their careers. Employees who feel that they have nowhere to go, are likely to look for that new challenge somewhere else, and this is especially true of the younger generation. Without a clear career path within your organisation, these talented individuals are likely to move on to greener pastures, and these are probably your competitors. So as CEO you need to come up with a strategy to offer career advancement opportunities to help you keep your top talent.

A certain level of staff turnover in an organisation is healthy. But if you want to stand the best chance of retaining your top talent, then you need to be strategic. If you make a conscious effort to address and implement all of the above then you are the employer most likely to succeed, because you are meeting the needs of your best employees.

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