Malcolm Ford once said that, “only a handful of companies understand that successful business operations come down to 3 basic principles: People – Product – Profit. Without top people you can not do much with the others.”
In a capitalist or free market economy, companies often retain the services of search firms to bring talented people to their door. Recruiters, also known as headhunters, often take the blame or are viewed as evil when employers lose their extremely valuable human capital. Headhunting, also referred to derogatively as poaching, refers to a recruiter approaching a target candidate who is gainfully employed. The recruiter approaches the potential mover and questions him or her to see if he or she would be interested in working for another company or would be interested in hearing about positions that may represent better opportunities in their career. Poaching implies that people are prey and it is the recruiter’s goal to take them against their will…. Nonsense!
The cold hard truth is that in business, YOU CAN’T RAPE THE WILLING. Usually, the recruiter has been approached by a client to find a candidate with a specific skill set and then searches for candidates who work in companies employing people with these skills – i.e. prospective candidates.
Some might question whether it is ethical for companies to headhunt from their competitors? Since the days of indentured servitude are far behind us – companies do not own employees and the choice of where we work is fundamental in a free society. The U.S. Justice Department in September 2010 “settled with Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit and Pixar over claims they colluded to not “poach” from each other.” THE U.S. GOVERNMENT RULED THAT IT WAS ANTI-COMPETITIVE FOR THE LABOR MARKET TO MAKE AGREEMENTS SUCH AS THESE!!! If a company is taking good care of its employees, why would it fear them entertaining other offers?
No one leaves a company because she or he had his or her arm twisted by a smooth talking recruiter. Almost every single Fortune 500 company engages senior level headhunters to find its A team. The simple answer to prevent loss of talent is to create the best possible work environment. We talked about this in a previously published article entitled “Karma is a B*TCH when it comes to retention” but many of these points are worth repeating.
- Treat each employee the way you would want to be treated if you were in their position and as professionals.
- Demonstrate respect.
- Offer attractive, competitive benefits packages.
- Provide opportunities for people to share their knowledge through training sessions and mentoring.
- Offer performance feedback and praise good work.
- Make work fun.
- Enable employees to balance work and life by providing flex time.
- Involve them in decisions whenever possible.
- Recognize excellent performance and link it to pay.
- Offer bonus potential on personal and company success.
- Celebrate success.
- Staff adequately.
- Stand for something bigger than yourself.
- Establish and nurture organizational traditions such as food drives during the holidays and community involvement.
- Provide opportunities for career progression.
- Promote personal and career growth through training.
- Establish common goals and responsibilities so that they feel they belong.
Frasier Hill at the January ERE Recruiting Conference recommends starting with the candidate experience. Specifically, train hiring managers how to interview and best represent your company. *Structure an end to end interview process without using too many people who cannot make a decision. * Have a clear feedback policy for candidates. *Have a “first class onboarding process with adequate feedback channels” so it can be determined that newly hired candidates are satisfied. *Maintain accurate and up to date competitor salary and benefits information.
If employees are taken care of, companies have no need to fear the HEADHUNTER.