Deal with the hunt

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How to deal with employees being headhunted?

Unfortunately for companies in the IT industry, LinkedIn and Social Media has allowed even the novice recruiter to inspect any employee’s career movements and there is very little companies can do to fend off these advances especially on their most prized employees, or in some instances teams of employees. So what is a company to do when their best employee/s get approached by recruiters? Here is Nu Beginnings 5 step guide to dealing with the loss of precious employees.

Firstly, take it as a compliment. Evidently your HR department is functioning properly and this is proof that you hired a good candidate in the first place. Pat yourselves on your back and perhaps ask yourselves this; would you prefer to have an employee be distracted by the search for a new career path or one that gets offered an opportunity out of the blue and seeks to leave on amicable terms and finish strong with you?   

Secondly, accept that your employees will be approached, especially the cream of the crop. It is vitally important for companies to understand that the IT industry, and therefore the IT recruitment industry, has changed over the years. So long are the days of posting opportunities on job boards. Headhunting is the future of recruitment in general, more so in the IT industry where the demand for developers, engineers, architects, IT support etc. is significantly higher than the supply.

Once you have accepted that recruiters will come after your employees, you are ready for step three. Unsatisfied employees will move in the hopes of quenching their satisfaction, accept it and learn from it. Technology is so rapidly changing that no matter how on top of the changes you are or try to be, the next version is always around the corner. Your employees know this, or at least they should be, so they are open to opportunities which allow them to work with these ‘shinier toys’. If you don’t stay on top of these changes you will fall behind and lose more than just your best employees.

Step four, don’t throw money at the problem.  Don’t expect your employees to commit to being happy for another 5 to 10 years simply by upping numbers in their bank account. Consider two situations, firstly an employee who is obviously and unmistakably unhappy with his career, perhaps being distracted by searching for greener grass over the next hill, and secondly an employee who has already found an opportunity which could make him happy and is openly wanting to pursue it. What happens when you throw money at either of these employees? Offering more money to the first employee may allow him/her a false relief from the unhappiness but for how long? What happens in a years’ time when money no longer does the trick? The added monetary value of working in an environment where he/she is unhappy will fast be outweighed by the opportunity to advance their career and upping their market value. The second situation leads to the classical debate of whether to make a counter offer or not. So often in recruitment the debate is had about whether candidates should accept a counter offer or not, however in this case perhaps the more important question is whether companies should be making the offer in the first place. The debate, however follows the same trends. How valuable is this employee to us? Why do we need him/her to stay? Why weren’t we offering this to him/her in the first place? Why did it take their resignation to make us realize how valuable they are to us? If the employee accepts our counter offer, will our relationship with him/her be the same? Will he/she do better work or are we paying for the same thing?

The fifth and final step here is to make sure you learn from all of this and adapt. Understand what makes your employees tick. In the IT industry specifically, because there is such a demand for IT candidates around the world, there is a two way street between the employee and the company. While the employee adds value to your operation and assists the company in adding value to the economy, so the company adds value to the employee’s life and contributes to their career. Never lose sight of your employee’s career, because they never do.

After all of this perhaps a bonus step to consider; working with a proven and trusted recruitment company is better than working against one you can’t trust. While companies are focusing on day to day operations, maintaining old products and rolling out new ones and general business admin, recruiters are focusing on your employees 😉