So many times I’ve heard on the street complaints from companies about headhunters trying to steal their employees…and everytime I laugh a little. Yes, partly because I am a headhunter, but my thoughts go deeper than that. It kind of reminds me of a relationship where one partner is always scared of the other straying away into someone else’s arms. What can we do to stop this from happening? Without realizing until writing this blog, the heart of my advice is relatively the same.
We have all heard of companies implementing no headhunter policies. This is almost the same as banning your significant other from going to Starbucks because of the possibility of bumping into a new love prospect. Come on! Anyways, back to business. My opinion on the policy thing: pointless. Good headhunters have the right tools and brainpower to connect with their target; and a policy is hardly the first thing that gets in the way. It is only human nature for smart people to entertain conversations and weigh out their options, especially when it comes to a career.
So how do you keep your people from being poached, scooped or stolen? Is it giving them higher salaries and handing out a counter offer when they try to depart? This is not the best tactic and it can backfire. Although it is important to pay people what they are worth, making a counter offer may work at first, but if all other factors remain the same, resentment sets in and your superstar employee might start to think ‘why wasn’t I being paid this before’. And, if word gets out to the rest of your team, or company, you might end up with a line up of others trying to pull the same trick. Sounds like this is getting expensive, no?
Besides, your best employees are not talking to headhunters for the sole purpose of an increase in pay. They are networking and researching their competitors and options. They want to know who is on the other team, how smart are they, what is their environment and if applicable, what kind of technology do they use. In other words: are they better? After this information is gathered, your employee will ask themselves ‘will I be happier and more satisfied working on the other side?’
Take it as a compliment, headhunters go after great people. Being recruited is an indication that they are smart, have desired skill sets and work with the best technology. Know this, and if you haven’t already, work to foster an environment that empowers, engages and includes your employees. This is what keeps people. This is what’s going to stop a headhunter in their tracks.