<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=290086984736480&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Search
word-map-thumb

The Alternative Board Blog

Taking an Ethical Approach to Poaching Employees

Nov. 2, 2016 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
group of smiling businesspeople meeting in office

Is it possible to use “ethical” and “poaching” in the same sentence? These days, the hunt for qualified talent is ruthless. Many businesses think nothing of covertly recruiting employees of choice away from competitors. For TAB Members, dedicated to running their companies as honestly and transparently as possible, the issue is more complicated. Is there a way to poach a gifted employee from another organization and emerge with your reputation for integrity intact?

Here are factors to consider before embarking down this path:

Certain limits shouldn’t be breached. First off, it’s unwise to poach another company’s employee when the negative consequences outweigh the benefits. “If an employee works for a business partner or vendor, you’ll likely find the lost business connection is far more costly than losing the great employee,” notes digital media consultant John Boitnott, who concludes that “you’re smarter not to hire someone who will cost your business more money in the long term.”

The most clearly unethical tactics include going after an employee to whom you were introduced by others in that person’s organization, thinking the introduction would help your company to work together. That’s a betrayal of trust that’s very hard to live down—as is the tactic of actively smearing a competitor in order to entice a desirable employee away.

Look for non-compete agreements. Before pursuing a targeted employee from a competitor, make sure he or she is legally permitted to work for you. Some employees sign non-compete agreements that forbid the individual from working for a competing business for a set period of time. If you suspect such an agreement exists (or there’s an brief anti-poaching clause in that person’s contract), consult your attorney before doing anything else.

Explore the “employee referral” option. For business leaders bent on conducting themselves honestly, another option is promoting employee referrals within their organizations. An employee who refers the name of someone working for another business can’t make any promises or commitments, and is only raising the possibility of considering a new employment option. No ethical breach is involved.

“An employee asking a good friend or colleague is considered ethical by most companies,” notes HR strategist Danny Kellman. “The employee referral method is more ethical than using recruiting agencies with bad value systems.”

Want additional insight? Read 7 Steps for an Effective Hiring Process now to learn more

DOWNLOAD

Enlist the services of a reputable search firm. Of course, most recruiting agencies don’t resort to underhanded recruitment techniques. By hiring a reputable search firm to locate your ideal candidate, you maintain an ethical distance from any association with poaching.

Spread the word in your professional network. Another option is letting everyone in your professional network know that you’re seeking candidates with particular skills and have those individuals contact you, rather than the other way around.

If such a person steps forward—and happens to be employed at a colleague’s company—you can approach that colleague and respectfully request permission to explore new opportunities with the individual in question. Should your colleague agree to let the process continue, then everything’s above-board and transparent. If your colleague objects, probably the wisest move is to abandon further discussions with that individual.

You still need to make a persuasive case for a candidate to leave. Even engaging in an ethical approach to poaching doesn’t guarantee a desired outcome. You still need to sell your company to the prospective candidate. Obviously, writes Hilary Johnson at Inc., that person’s first question is, “why should they leave their job and join you? You need to make your opportunity sound more attractive than what they’ve already got.”

One final cautionary note: Remember that, as you consider the pros and cons of poaching employees from others, many organizations are contemplating the same approach towards your top performers. Of course, it’s impossible to control the actions of the people who work for you, but if you’ve created a culture that promotes career development and personal achievement, you probably have less to worry about than companies with a dysfunctional environment.

TAB regularly conducts PULSE Surveys with small business owners to gain insights on various business topics - check out our survey on Employee Hiring and Retention to learn more about current outlooks on this topic. 

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board

DOWNLOAD

Written by The Alternative Board Worldwide

Related posts

How HR Can Help Boost Recruitment Efficiency
Aug. 8, 2019 | Posted by Ronita Mohan
Finding the right candidate for your small or medium business can often be a difficult task. The number of potential employees has increased over the past few years, but so have the needs of...
How To Manage Off Site Employees
Aug. 1, 2019 | Posted by Lucy Philips
Some difficulty in cultivating a cohesive, positive work culture may arise for companies with traveling employees. Not being in the same office, let alone the same time zone can lead some employers...
7 Tips for Managing Millennials on your Sales Team
Jul. 25, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
We often hear that millennial employees are a breed apart, and require a shift in management style and perspective. The same can be said about a millennial sales team and what’s needed to effectively...
How A Sales Performance Plan Can Help A Struggling Rep
May. 2, 2019 | Posted by Joe Zente, TAB Austin
Whenever a sales rep isn’t performing, it is time for swift and decisive action. Let’s say our rep (we’ll call him John) is falling short of his goals. Depending upon the extent to which John’s...
How One on One Meetings Create a Positive Office Culture
Apr. 30, 2019 | Posted by Max Woolf
As a manager, you have a lot of plates to spin and many hats to wear. With all of the work adding more meetings might be the last on your list. But, if you don’t run 1 on 1's with employees, you’re...
When You're the HR Department for Your Business
Apr. 23, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
Human Resources (HR) is an area that seems to cause most business owners the highest amount of stress. Unfortunately, without an HR Department, HR issues become the responsibility of you, the...
How to set up virtual office for a small business
Apr. 18, 2019 | Posted by Gary Hoffman
Virtual Office Space Dos and Don'ts You’re ready to give your business an impressive corporate presence, but you’re not willing to plunk down millions of dollars for the office space, the permanent...
5 Employee Oriented Ways to Increase Productivity
Feb. 21, 2019 | Posted by Morgen Henderson
The standard corporate definition of productivity usually refers to getting more done in less time. And strategies like streamlining your meetings or investing in technology are common solutions. ...
Management Skills Part 1: Transitioning from Employee to Manager
Jan. 22, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
In my work with business owners, many of them have expressed a desire to transition a certain employee to a more senior role at their company. However, this promotion sometimes doesn’t happen because...
Why More Female Business Owners Are Joining Boards
Jan. 10, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
It’s encouraging to see more women business owners joining boards. I’ve found that most women in management, specifically on boards, offer a different style of leadership and a fresh perspective,...