I have a friend who does hiring in the service industry. Let’s call her Jane. There have been many times where Jane and I have gone to a restaurant to have a meal or have decided to run our errands together while catching up. Nothing out of the ordinary. However, Jane always has her business cards on the ready. They’re fun and funky; they contain Jane’s contact information and her company’s career website. She’s in Human Resources so Jane wanted to add a little “something different” to her business cards by using the careers site. Oh, I almost forgot, Jane’s always evaluating the customer service employees she encounters.
“I really appreciated your patience with us,” or “Your customer service skills are great,” and then with some type of go-go-gadget arms and a swirl of magic, her business card appears in the hands of this employee – your employee!
It is called employee poaching. Employee poaching is the art of luring good employees away from their existing place of employment, usually a competitor, with intention to hire the employee at their organization. It is real. If your employee is visible to the public with a great skillset, chances are high that someone has attempted to poach this employee. There are all types of articles you can read about the legal limitations and the ethics surrounding employee poaching, but I am focused on how to protect your employees in the event poaching does occur.
The best line of defense with this threat is developing a good employee retention plan. An employee retention plan helps you to articulate your retention strategy to management as well as employees directly. For some employees, the sheer notion that a company has thought highly enough of their employees to create a retention plan begins to earn the employer bonus points. The plan itself will only get your organization so far, the content must be valuable as well as the follow through consistent. So, what type of items would go into a retention plan?
Most employees leave an organization because of management, not because they did not enjoy the work or the organization. One way to keep an eye on this would be to schedule bi-annual or annual supervisor reviews where you ask the employees to review their supervisor. There are assessments you can utilize to help with this. What you should be looking to understand is, “what is the supervisor doing well,” “what could he/she do better,” and “how could he/she do that [thing] better”. Then use this information to help improve and motivate the supervisor.
Skill utilization & development
Is the employee showing interest in developing other talents in an area that would be helpful to your organization? Does he/she have a passion for something? Often these skills or talents will come up in casual conversation. Sometimes they will appear when an employee is given a special project. Keep an eye out for exceptional skills, and then engage the employee by allowing the employee to utilize the skill and/or continue to develop that skill.
Often employers think this must be done with grandeur and cost a fortune. It doesn’t. In fact it should not be something expensive as employees may be turned off that the money is not going toward a bonus or was not paid to them in a monetary way. There are very simple things you can do. Set monthly or quarterly goals and if the employee meets or exceeds that goal, do something special like providing lunch, car wash, a tank of gas, workplace conveniences, etc. If you have a group of employees that meet the goal they could spend an afternoon doing an off-site activity together. Keep in mind, if the goal is exceeded by a large amount the token of appreciation should also be increased. The employee must know that you are happy he/she is part of your organization and that he/she is valuable to you.
The very best way to protect against employee poaching and to build your employee retention plan is to create relationships with your employees. When employees understand they are valued and they feel as if engaging in open conversation with their employer is possible, great things can happen. You will not be able to keep all employees from being poached, but creating a retention plan is a good way to begin to protect your assets.
For more ideas on how to keep your employees engaged, check out my teammate’s blog here.