In today’s competitive workforce, knowing how to poach quality employees and poach-proof your own employees are key strategies to success.
By Mel Kleiman
Remember about 10 years ago when you could post a “Now Hiring” sign in your front window on a Monday morning and have your choice of several quality applicants by the afternoon?
Or you post a recruitment ad to a job board only to be inundated, in a matter of hours, with more applicants than you could possibly ever screen?
But, as you may also recall, starting back in 2010-2011, the tide began to turn. At first, employers didn’t really notice and just kept on posting until, finally, around 2012-2013, they would post and then have to resort to praying someone, anyone would respond.
And, even though this past July the unemployment rate edged down by 0.1 to 3.9% and the number of unemployed persons declined by 284,000 to 6.3 million, according to Wikimedia Commons, some are still posting and praying today.
If your organization is one of those, surely you’ve noticed that it’s an effort in futility for one simple reason—all the good people who want to work are already working (and few have the time to look for a new job). That’s why the name of the game now is “poaching” (new hires from other employers) and “poach-proofing” your own people so other employers don’t lure them away.
While the mention of poaching makes some business owners and hiring managers uncomfortable, the fact of the matter is, there is nothing unethical about offering an employed person a new and/or better employment opportunity.
One of the best ways to approach working people is by using your existing business card as a recruiting tool. Have a supply of your cards printed on the backside with a message like:
“We’re looking for great people like you to join our team. If you would like to explore full- or part-time employment opportunities with us, call me for a confidential interview.” Give this card to everyone who gives you great service or seems to be a good fit. This includes restaurant workers, vendor employees and people in your social networks, to name only a few.
When you hand a prospective employee your card, say something like: “I know you’re not looking for another job, but if you’re looking for extra hours or shifts, I would love to talk with you at your convenience.”
Give all your employees their own business cards too (an inexpensive perk that builds pride) with a similar message on the back and tell them they’ll get some kind of reward (money, movie tickets, etc.) for every person who comes in or calls to apply with one of their cards.
Give these cards out whether you have an existing job opening or not. I know you just can’t find the time for recruiting and interviewing when there’s no urgent need, but, in that case, you really need to make the time. Just because you don’t need someone today doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow, or next week, or next month. The No. 1 reason employers put up with mediocre employees is because they have no bench strength. It will be a lot easier to fill a position if you have a stack of prescreened applicants to choose from and people to call who have already demonstrated an interest.
Build a strategy that goes after the working people who are not looking for a job, but who might be interested if a new job came looking for them. Ask everyone you talk to every day: “Do you know anyone who is working, but who might be interested in a new or better job?” Go where the kind of people you want to hire congregate and socialize be it a motorcycle rally, the mall, or your local community street/wine/art fairs.
When valued employees quit to work elsewhere, they often discover that the grass isn’t greener after all. In fact, polling shows that approximately 20-25% of supervisory and managerial employees have gone back to work at a company they once left. Imagine if 20% of all the good people who ever left you came back. You’d have instantaneously productive workers, requiring little or no training.
All you have to do is ask. A month or so after someone good leaves, just call or email and ask if they would consider coming back. The worst they could say is “no,” and you’ve just given them a wonderful compliment. What’s so bad about that? Even if the answer is “no,” former employees can be valuable sources for referrals.
Now let’s look at poach-proofing your most valued employees. The optimal way to do this is to become a magnetic manager, the boss nobody wants to leave. According to a slew of different studies and sources, “Employees who stay primarily for their supervisors stay longer, perform better and are more satisfied with their pay.”
A magnetic manager’s overall guiding philosophy is to help his employees get where they want to go so those employees will do their utmost to help the organization get where it wants to go. Magnetic managers attract and keep great employees through a number of proven techniques that I talk about at length during my in-person trainings and presentations. Here’s an overview:
1. They make time for recruiting activities and interviews every single week.
2. They let only A-players on the bus. They never settle for mediocrity.
3. They have an onboarding system that builds a
personal relationship with each new employee.
4. They invest in their people (training, education, credentials, trust, promotions, etc.).
5. They manage people individually, not as groups or generations. (In every generation there are those who prefer lots of direction and feedback and those who want to go it alone.)
6. They learn to fail fast, recognize a hiring mistake right away and release that person to find a position that suits them better.
7. They make work fun. (Yes, it can be done.)
8. They’ve learned the art of being able to establish caring relationships while they maintain professional boundaries.
9. They leverage the power of recognition.
A word about No. 9 above: The last time the Gallup organization asked, fully 69% of the employees polled said they had not received any recognition at all from their employer in the past year.
We’ve designed what we call an “Employee Data Sheet” for new hires to complete so you can capture all kinds of interesting information about them (their favorite candy and restaurant, their hobbies and interests, etc.). Then, when you want to extend a token of appreciation, you can refer to the form and choose something perfectly suited to the recipient. (For a complimentary copy of our Employee Data Sheet, text the word Humetrics to 832.460.0498.)
A Fortune magazine survey found that, “the single best predictor of overall excellence is a company’s ability to attract, motivate, and retain talented people.” When posting and praying fail to meet this standard, it’s high time business owners and hiring managers take the steps necessary to ensure the organization’s continued success.
Mel Kleiman is a certified speaking professional, consultant and author on strategies for hiring and retaining the best employees. He is the founder and president of Humetrics, a developer of hiring systems, training processes and tools.
He can be reached at (713) 771-4401 or [email protected].