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Don’t Let Competitors Poach Your Superstar

If your business is part of a close-knit industry, chances are your competitors are aware of any superstar employee who’s part of your workforce. The bad news is, few businesses have any scruples about pursuing and attempting to lure an “A-level” employee away from your company and into theirs. The good news is, by ensuring the work environment is an inspiring and gratifying place to work, your superstar employee will be far less tempted to venture out into so-called greener pastures.

While there’s no fool-proof protection against an employee deciding to take his or her skills elsewhere, here are some ways to tip the odds in your favor:

Know your employees

It may seem distracting and time-consuming, but getting to know your employees as living, breathing people pays off. If you’re unaware of what matters most to them in terms of their jobs and lives, how can you know who’s a possible candidate for an untimely defection?

These conversations may be a bit difficult at first, but most workers appreciate it when their employer takes a personal interest in them.

This is also a useful process for identifying those people most at risk for jumping ship. If you haven’t already earmarked your most talented employees, look closely at those who are most productive and dedicated as well as those around the 2-year and 5-year marks (times when some people feel they’ve “plateaued” in their current position).

Talk to these individuals first. Ask them what they like about their jobs, what leaves them dissatisfied and how work conditions might change to better meet their needs. If this conversation aids in retention and recharges their work spirit, your business will prosper, too.

Acknowledge their contributes and be generous with praise

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that without hard-working employees, your business simply couldn’t exist. Their contributions should never be taken for granted. Look for opportunities to acknowledge their service, especially those individuals who have been with you for several years. While money is always a key factor in employee retention, it’s by no means the only one. Everyone likes to be valued for what they do.

How do you reward the exceptional work of your most talented employees, aside from a bonus or a raise in salary? Think about ways to celebrate their achievements through gift certificates, an extra day of vacation time, even singling them out for special recognition at company meetings.

Foster a team environment

Employees value the people they work with and the environment in which they spend so much of their time. To foster this kind of environment, look for opportunities to engage in team-building activities—some work-related, some just for fun. Is there an upcoming client project where you could put together a small team of A-players and let them loose on a fresh approach? What about sponsoring a charitable event where these same spirited employees can team up and serve the community in which they live? The emotional and fraternal rewards of team efforts can be enormous.

Facilitate professional growth and training

Most employees don’t want to feel stuck in their current jobs. If they see opportunities for promotion and an expansion of their skill sets, they’re more likely to stick around. Encourage and support their interest in taking classes and other training that broadens their abilities, thus demonstrating your faith in their future with the business.

All of these efforts not only improve the chances of employees turning down bids from your competitors, they enhance your reputation as an employer of choice—which in turn makes you more attractive to other talented job seekers out there. It’s a win-win situation—except, of course, for the competition.

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