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Play offense to keep the best team

I often get asked by clients or friends who own their own businesses: “How do I prevent my employees from fielding calls from recruiters, or how do I block recruiters from getting to my employees?”  It’s an important question and certainly a timely one in this increasingly competitive job market.  My response: “If you want your employees to stay, play offense, not defense.”

What do I mean?  It isn’t realistic to think you can block recruiters from accessing your employees and certainly isn’t worth the effort. Instead, focus your energy on fostering an environment where employees feel valued and a part of your corporate culture.  Recruiters don’t “steal” people; people choose to leave, and from our experience many times their departure is related to not feeling a part of the culture and wanting more out of their work life.

We recently hired several new employees who all came from the same company.  Not surprisingly, they all left their previous employer due to a negative corporate culture and feeling unappreciated.  This was a true testament to our focus on creating and maintaining our own positive office culture and practicing what we preach to our clients.

Instead of playing defense with your employees or the competition, use your resources to create a place that people are attracted to and want to be a part of.  Not only does this encourage productivity and creativity, it helps you attract new employees and retain your best talent.

At the same time, no matter how ideal your corporate environment is, you likely have employees who aren’t a fit or who have chosen to move on.   

According to a study by Traverse City, Mich.- based privacy and data protection research firm the Ponemon Institute, nearly 60 percent of employees steal company information when they leave or are fired, with 67 percent of them taking it to a new job. 

While that number seems daunting, there are a few important tips to playing smart offense and keeping information from leaving with departing employees:

  • Keep your employees happy and engaged

Your employees are your most valuable asset…treat them that way.   Create a great environment for your staff, take the time to engage and foster relationships with them so they aren’t lured away by outside recruiters.  Create meaningful connections so that even if they do move on, you are confident they are leaving for the right reasons and you know they will continue to be champions for your company.

  • Live your corporate culture everyday

Start with your recruiting process!  Make sure that your company’s values, mission and everyday “life around the office” is expressed to job candidates so that both of you can determine if your company’s culture is a fit from the start.  Make your corporate culture an important element of your workplace by defining it and living it every day and in all you do.  Then, use it as a key differentiator.

  • Listen and share

Be up to speed on your recruiting efforts and get to know your new employees.  Make time to connect with each and every one of your staff members to understand the issues they are facing, how they are feeling, what’s working and what’s not.   Building loyalty and trust are critical in making your employees feel connected. Understand each of your employees’ career aspirations and help them develop a plan to achieve them.

  • Set expectations

Let your employees know what’s acceptable - and what isn’t - from their first day. Find a way for your management team to reinforce these expectations or set annual meetings to review the guidelines.  

  • Implement security measures

Regardless of your company’s size, take precautions to prevent information from being compromised.  Make certain you’ve placed the proper controls on your technology or other areas to combat any potential security issues and discuss confidentiality up front with each new employee.

  • Have an exit strategy

Developing an exit plan for employees is imperative to creating a smooth transition and to fostering relationships with those who are leaving.  Knowing why an employee is resigning is extremely valuable to helping you to create reasons for other employees to stay.  When strong, healthy relationships have been established, it minimizes any negative impact to the rest of the team. 

At the end of the day, keeping your employees happy and promoting a culture of excellence is the best plan in your playbook.  Playing offense instead of defense will help you limit the ill-effects of departing employees and net you more productive, loyal, and passionate people.

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Steve Ziegler

Steve is co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Triworth, a Denver-based nationwide talent acquisition firm focused on recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), middle management and executive search.  Contact Steve at SZiegler@triworth.com or 303.344.4101.

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