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Preventing Talent Poaching: the Key is Employee Engagement

Scary but true: other companies want your best people to come and work for them.

The best way to stop this is by developing a strong company culture, with happy employees.

How to achieve this?

Added on 09.04.2015

There should be no difference between your company culture and your brand

When a candidate at interview asks 'What's it like to work here?' you want the answer they get to be the same no matter whether it comes from you or anyone who works for you. And you want this contentment to be not only felt by everyone in the workplace, but also be highly visible on your website, your social media channels, and any and all brand communication.

A harmonious company culture will create a strong, successful brand - and the key to workplace harmony (and a whole lot more besides) is employee engagement (introduction to this on the CIPD website).

Employee Engagement - something that many companies could do better

HR Magazine reported last year on a worrying finding from a survey of 7,000 employees across twenty countries: the UK placed 18th out of the twenty countries for employee engagement.

We have a separate post on how to measure your own employee engagement. Here, we're going to talk about how to foster it, and it breaks down to two simple rules:

  • treat your employees like people with lives outside work; and
  • build your mission statement around your people, and live it.

Treat your employees like people with lives outside work

If your company culture is 'long hours at the coal face' then that says 'no work-life balance'. If your company culture is (or provides for) 'young go-getters' only then that says 'people with families are not important to us'.

You want people to associate the words 'innovative' and 'creative' with your brand - but you also want words like 'inspired', 'supportive' and 'happy'.

Build your mission statement around your people, and live it

Employees value integrity and recognition the most, so put that - and them - at the heart of your mission statement. Be sure that all your communication, on and off line, reflects the values in your mission statement. That means your website, your social media, video, print, and your recruiting strategy.

Recruiting should reflect company culture

Don't add people to your team unless they are going to be a good fit with your desired culture. We recommend that you devote a significant part of the recruitment process getting to know each candidate; the best way to do this is to set aside a half day for the candidate to spend with their prospective team on exercises that promote interaction.

Celebrate wins - properly

There are so many ways to do this; whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly and don't skimp. And get the details right: if you're rewarding someone with a meal, make sure it's their favourite cuisine. If you're buying someone a gift to say thankyou, then find out exactly what it is they want and get them that.

Reward people for being sought after

Embrace the fact that your competitors want to poach your people: it means that they are not only brilliant, but recognised as such. We read about a tech company that buys team members a bottle of wine every time a recruiter emails them - what a great way to tell people that they are valued and to reward openness!

Don't take it badly when you do lose an employee

It's easy to take it personally, especially if you have invested in them. But don't - look on this as an opportunity to learn and to improve things for the future. Find out why the person is leaving. Ask them to be candid about things like:

  • whether the role in practice differed from the role as advertised;
  • what it was like to work for you;
  • how they felt they fitted into your company;
  • where they see the company headed; and
  • if there's anything they would change if they were you.

Listen to what they say. Even if you don't think any of it is true or correct, ask them to explain why they've said what they've said - it's valuable information.