Poach or Be Poached?

Young male constructor worker in orange hardhat thinking with one arm crossed and the other on his chin

A recurring question that you face—and one that I am asked occasionally—is it okay to poach employees?

And/or what should I do when someone is poaching my employees?

First off, when someone offers one of your better employees $10k more and they leave, either they were unhappy with you, or you were underpaying them, or underutilizing them, or all three.

However, what if they leave for just a $2-4k raise? or for no raise at all?

That is why I believe this question, “Is it okay to poach?” is the wrong question to ask because it covers up (hides) the larger dynamic happening in the market place.

It’s a seller’s market.

Your company is either growing or shrinking when it comes to talent retention and acquisition.

The growing companies in your market are winning employee market share—and the shrinking companies are losing out on the best employees. And poaching has nothing to do with it.

By my definition, growth means growing in reputation, career opportunities, and client opportunities. These companies are becoming a true Destination Company®️.

Since I published my prescient book (Become A Destination Company®️) over three years ago, I have seen the competitive nature of attracting and hiring employees become even more acute.

The newer generations of good employees have even higher standards on what they want from an employer. It is a race to the top!

Your challenge: Build a company culture that promotes growth from the inside out. Where all the leaders at your company are focused on developing and retaining top talent.

Back to the question – Is poaching ethical? It is not professional when it involves you walking onto job sites. But your company should be so attractive that great employees want to walk across the street to work for you.

4 thoughts on “Poach or Be Poached?

  1. I think you are missing a main point of the question – and that is that poaching poses an ethical issue. In our case, we had a well paid foremen approached by a competitor repeatedly in a supplier parking lot. He basically just waited in the lot for staff to pull in, then solicited them with cards and brochures. Another thought is to consider that – as a member of a state landscape trade organization in which you promise to “respect your peers business”, this also becomes a question of integrity. Certainly there are many useful and ethical avenues for hiring, but soliciting workers that re in their routine day of work with promises of better pay is unethical and unprofessional, regardless of the state of the growth of your business, the amount you pay your employees – or your company culture.

  2. Alan,
    You are correct that this is an ethical issues. My goal with this article is to show you how to preempt this issue altogether.

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