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2014: The Year of Employee Retention or the Talent Poach?

2014: The Year of Employee Retention or the Talent Poach?

By: Roberta Matuson, author of Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best (Nicholas Brealey, 2013)

Will 2014 be the year that your top talent is poached? Or is this the year your employee retention strategy will kick in? That all depends on what action you take to bolster employee retention.

Meet Jeff, aka the Plucker
Last month, while on route to discuss what business leaders can do today to dramatically improve employee engagement and retain top talent, I met a guy by the name of Jeff. After our conversation, I thought it was more appropriate to refer to him as “Jeff the Plucker.” Here’s why.

You wouldn’t know by looking at Jeff that he is to be feared. In fact he looks like an average guy riding the train home after a long day at the office. Only his office happens to be your office.

That’s right. You may be occasionally thinking about employee engagement while Jeff is quietly working away and plucking people out of your offices every chance he gets. Most likely you won’t even know he’s poaching your talent until it’s too late.

To make matters worse, Jeff is attending industry conferences and schmoozing with your people, (some of whom he already knows) and touting all the reasons why your people should consider becoming his people.

Jeff shared with me, with a grin on his face, that he’s having the time of his life. Why? Because he’s having no problem poaching talent from organizations. This has enabled him to quickly and inexpensively open national offices in your markets.

Jeff’s a guy with a reputation for keeping his word. All he has to do is promise people a better future than the one they have, and off they go to his organization.

Is Talent Poaching Unethical?
You may view talent poaching as unethical. For Jeff and his counterparts, it’s simply another day at the office. After all, if employee retention was that important to you, you’d be doing it.

Consider this your wakeup call. Here’s what you can do to create a force field around your organization that will prevent people like Jeff from poaching talent from your business.

Take the temperature inside each department of your organization. Your sales team may be soaking in the sun while cloud cover is creating quite a dismal work atmosphere in customer service.

You can forecast where storms might be brewing by asking your workers to complete the Employee Retention Self-Assessment form, which you’ll receive when you sign up for our upcoming Monster webinar, Turn your Workplace into a Talent Magnet.

I recommend completing the form yourself and comparing your responses with those of your employees. Areas where there are significant differences between your responses and that of your people are certainly worth further exploration.

Identify those areas of your business that need adjusting and then take immediate action to boost employee engagement and create sunny skies throughout the company.

Make sure your salaries can withstand the heat of today’s market. Yes it’s true that people usually don’t leave their employers for more money. They do exit when they don’t feel they are being compensated fairly for the value they bring to an organization.

If you’re a small business, a good place to look for salary data is with your local industry association or Chamber of Commerce. Contact them to see if they’ve recently conducted salary surveys, which members are usually entitled to for free or nominal fee.

Alternately, there are online companies (Salary.com and Payscale) that offer salary calculators and research tools, including paid-for services.

If resources permit, consider hiring a compensation consultant who can provide you with a more thorough market analysis for those positions where you feel most vulnerable.

Consistently treat your best employees like they matter. Decide to invest in your people in 2014. During the recession, training budgets were slashed along with 401(k) matches. The economy is coming back and is advancing forward. So must you.

High performers are always looking at ways to improve. Help your people continue to thrive. Support employee development by giving them opportunities to participate in training and coaching programs.

Are you worried that once you take these steps, you’ll still fall victim to employee turnover? You shouldn’t be. Instead, think about how much more value your employees will add to your firm.

In my experience, when treated right, people will stick around. They are grateful to work for a business that believes they are worthy of the investment.

Exchange exit interview for stay interviews. Lots of companies conduct exit interviews when employees leave the organization.

But the problem with exit interviews is that they happen too late to do anything to prevent great employees from leaving. It’s like inviting an inspector into your home after you’ve had a fire to tell you what you could have done to prevent the damage that has occurred. A little too late, wouldn’t you say?

You would have been much better served had you taken preventative measures and invited the inspector in beforehand.

The same holds true for employee retention. Taking preventative measures along the way will allow you to make course corrections and most likely keep good employees from leaving.

2014 is going to be quite a profitable year for those organizations that continue to invest in employee engagement. They will have nothing to fear. Not even Jeff.