In today’s volatile talent market, organizational leaders are paying more attention to retaining top talent than ever before. In a world where we must do less with more, and where losing a top employee can cost the company more than double that person’s annual salary, organizations must begin looking at how easy it is for other companies to recruit top performers away.

Losing key employees to rival companies is actually doubly damaging – not only does your organization lose that individual’s experience and expertise, but your competitor gains them. While there is no foolproof method to keep employees from leaving and joining the competition, there are steps your organization can take to reduce the likelihood that employees will be poached.

Do you, like many organizations think it is difficult for other companies to poach your employees? Think again. In October, EMC filed a lawsuit against competitor Pure Storage for allegedly poaching dozens of employees using various tactics, some of which it said were a breach of confidentiality. There is a lot of legal gray area when it comes to what is acceptable. This is just one of a many instances where the competition is taking away one of a company’s greatest assets – its top employees.

So what can be done? Start by asking three questions.

Does your organization offer truly competitive salary and benefits?

For an employee who is being poached, the promise of more money can be easy bait. Most employers like to think they have competitive salaries and benefits, but are they truly competitive? Consulting salary surveys and creating a strategy around where you want to fall in the salary bell curve for key positions is a critical step in retaining top performers. It’s a good idea to clearly communicate and market employee benefits that are available, especially those that spread goodwill but don’t cost a lot of money – such as flex spending accounts.

Are your employees challenged and enjoy coming into work?

Whatever the job, employees should have a reason to come to work beyond the paycheck. One of the top reasons that employees leave one organization for another is the lack of challenging and meaningful work. People want to feel a sense of purpose – and that they’ve contributed to the success of the organization. It’s important to be seen as a place that challenges people and helps them realize their potential. When outside recruiters call your top performers looking to entice them with a new role, what you really want them to say is, “I’m not interested because I love my job.”

Is there room for growth within the company?

When an employee is in a role that requires the same core tasks over and over – sometimes for years, engagement is often low and the chances of promotion are small. Few employees want to start and end their tenure with an employer in the same position, doing the same thing, with essentially the same salary. The possibility for growth and development creates an intrinsic incentive for the employee to make a long-term commitment.

(How will HR managers oversee new opportunities for employees? Consider reading: HR departments will need internal mobility coordination)

Competitive salaries and benefits, challenging and meaningful work for employees and room for professional growth are three keys to the retention of valued employees. They keep a workforce focused on what matters – personal and organizational success – which creates an environment that employees don’t want to leave… and makes them more likely to say, “I’m not interested; I love my job” when those recruiters inevitably call.

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