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Defending against employee raiding by your competitors

One of the most common problems in maintaining a top notch staff is employee raiding on the part of a competitor. This is common, and it can be very damaging for your business. It’s no surprise that companies take steps to stop or combat it wherever and whenever they can. But, what can you do— really? Let’s examine a few tactics:

  1. It is next to impossible to prevent search firms, “headhunters” if you will, from contacting your staff. Recruiters and competitors alike have too many ways to reach out to your staff – phone, email, social media, face-to-face – and you cannot prevent it.
  2. This is why employers should focus more on creating an environment that is resistant rather than susceptible to employee raiding – as this is well within your control. For example, LinkedIn suggests that just 20 percent of staff is happily employed, whereas around 60 percent is willing to talk to a recruiter. But just because they are ready to talk to headhunters doesn’t mean that they will actually leave – and there are steps you can take to swing things in your favor.
  3. For starters, remember that the hiring industry works on speed – and candidates that can be moved quickly are especially susceptible to being raided. So, consider possibly putting your new hires on longer than standard notice periods, which can mean the candidate may be a slow mover and be a turn off for a time pressurized recruiter.
  4. Also, you can establish a bonus scheme where employees accrue their bonus monthly, but are paid at the end of the year, if they remain an employee. Many candidates may be reluctant to leave their employer once they are halfway through the bonus period as they don’t want to forfeit the accrued bonus, meaning there can be a six-month window where they may be less susceptible to advances from the competition. It’s a retention bonus of sorts.
  5. Another effective measure is to show the industry that you will not let your star talent leave easily by engaging in robust and effective counter-offer negotiations in order to keep hold of critical staff. This can demoralize the competition (who’ve put so much effort in by this point) and send out a strong message that you are not a soft touch when it comes to staff raiding. This will deter some of the headhunters.
  6. Be alert to raiding especially during times of change, e.g. layoffs, office moves, strategy changes, restructures, influential departures, etc., as employees can feel out of control as the environment is so uncertain. So coach, mentor and work with employees closely during this time to answer questions and reduce anxiety, squash damaging rumors and to communicate a vision for the future. This can all boost their sense of security and engagement and make them less susceptible to raiding.
  7. But, disengagement doesn’t just happen during times of change; it can occur if employees no longer like or value their work, don’t see a future for themselves, or are at serious odds with the culture. Also, never forget the value of a management pat on the back, and a sincere “thanks for doing a great job!” Not all of these things can be changed, but many can be. Perhaps the most effective resistance to raiding is to address your employee engagement levels so that they become committed to the cause. Employees who are fully engaged with your business will be extremely resistant to external raiding attempts.
  8. And finally, in truth, employees are not stolen; it’s not like fishing. They leave of their own accord, after having been shown some compelling reasons and advantages. Still, they are more likely to leave if they are disengaged. So, take stock regularly of how your employees are feeling about the business – and put in measures to increase engagement across the company, and particularly within company hotspots.

Philip Kemper is Founder/President of Kemper Associates, a 38-year-old Chicago-based national executive search firm, specializing in Permanent and Contract staffing for Trade Shows and Exhibits, Staging and Equipment Rental, Business Meetings and Events Production, Video, Training and Incentives and more .His more complete bio is on LinkedIn at: . You may view Kemper Associates’ web site at: , and contact Phil with questions or comments, and employment needs at:, or his private phone line: (312) 944-6551.

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