How to Stop a Poacher


By Phil Harwood

As the labor shortage continues into 2022, we should expect poaching to be more commonplace and more aggressive. The question then becomes, “How do we stop a poacher from stealing our employees?” There are a few proven strategies.

First, let’s acknowledge the difference between an attempted poach and a successful poach. We can’t prevent other companies from attempting to poach our people, but we can reduce the likelihood that an attempted poach will be successful for the poacher. 

Second, let’s understand that our employees have a choice. If a poacher is successful, it’s not wise to blame the employee, disparage them, or attempt to punish them on the way out. Losing an employee to a poacher has more to do with our company and less to do with the individual who has chosen to leave our company. We need to look in the mirror instead of looking at the person who is leaving. It’s not about them. It’s about us. 

Third, let’s recognize that there is a reason why poaching often works. The primary reason people are able to be poached is because they are not highly-engaged in their current job. According to the best research available today, it’s all about engagement. And the number one way to engage an employee is by investing in each employee - developing their skills and knowledge. When people are being developed and see a future with their current employer, they are less likely to be poached. It’s that simple. 

What about pay? Pay is important. It has to be fair and in the ballpark of comparable jobs. However, a highly-engaged person will not be able to be poached with an offer for more money unless it’s a very substantial amount and even then the poach may be unsuccessful. On the other hand, a disengaged employee who is just punching a clock may be easily poached for 25 cents more an hour. 

And let’s also realize that a failed poaching attempt is really a successful retain for us, the employer. It feels good to be pursued, and so when a competitor or a headhunter is pouring on the charm, our employee may entertain them for a while. But, once he or she makes the decision to remain loyal to our company, it’s not only a win for us but for them because it reaffirms that the path they’re on is the right one. offers free courses, one-time courses, and all-access subscriptions to over 330 educational modules. All of this content is available to you and your employees on-demand so you can move at your own pace whenever you have time to do so. 

Now go forth.

Tags: Retention , Labor Shortage , Keeping Employees ,