Dangers of Poaching Your Competitor’s Employee

Dangers of Poaching Your Competitor’s Employee

Competition is needed for continuous growth and development; in the world of business and work, competition act as a stimulant or propellant for enormous success. Having two or three organizations that offer similar services as yours make you more innovative and creative. It keeps you on your toes; you are always thinking of new products, projects, or services to offer to your consumers and clients. However, not all competitions can be considered as being healthy for business; certain practices, policies, activities, or events may be considered not healthy or unprofessional by your competitors. One such practice is the poaching of your competitor’s employee.


The process of poaching your competitor’s employee can arguably boost your prospects and simultaneously inhibit, limit, or cripple the other organization. Although it may seem to be a good business strategy for you and your organization, is it sustainable? Can an organization experience tremendous growth by constantly poaching other companies’ best employees? Are you ready to bear the consequences of poaching your competitor’s employee? What will the clients and customers think of your organization if they find out that you regularly poach your competitor’s employees? These are a few examples of questions that should suffice or come to mind when you think about the dangers associated with poaching a competitor’s employee.

In an ever-changing world where the workplace has transitioned into a more mobile and fluid state, companies and organizations consider poaching talents from rival firms as an excellent recruitment strategy. What might be considered unethical to one organization may be seen as an outstanding strategy by the other. Moreover, some employers and firms believe that all that matters is the attainment of set goals and targets. In addition, they believe that whatever technique or strategy is used to achieve or accomplish set goals doesn’t matter; be it ethical or not. Such organizations rarely see poaching talented employees from rivals as being bad.

Although recruiting talents from your competitors, sounds and appears aggressive, it is in line with practices, strategies, and techniques used in marketing and sales; where the focus is on recruiting clients and customers from other businesses considered to be in direct competition with you. However, reaching out directly to established and experienced talents who are employed by competing organizations has potential drawbacks. Therefore, this article will give an overview of the dangers of poaching talents from competitors.


Definition of Employee Poaching

Also known as talent poaching, job poaching, or employee raiding, employee poaching involves the practice of hiring a current employee or worker from a direct competitor or a similar organization. There have been arguments for and against making the process of employee poaching include the hiring and recruitment of former employees of competitors as well. When you tap, recruit or approach a rival’s employee without their knowledge, you are invariably poaching. In relation, most employee poaching occurs when an organization is still growing and requires highly-skilled, technical, and experienced workers to facilitate its growth process.


Why Do Organizations Poach Talents Away From Their Direct Competitors?

Companies and businesses engage in employee poaching because;

  1. Poached candidates bring fresh ideas, new perspectives, and up-to-date experience to your organization. When you are struggling to meet up milestones or targets, recruiting talented workers from a burgeoning competitor might bring much-needed growth and development.
  2. A top candidate who leaves a rival company for yours may trigger an exodus of like-minded individuals and customers, thereby enriching productivity and the bottom line.
  3. Poached employees bring a bit of fresh air to a toxic workplace.


What Are the Dangers of Poaching Your Competitor’s Employee?

The pitfalls and dangers of hiring a competitor’s employee are;

  1. Contractual restrictions: After the interview and hiring process, organizations give successful candidates contracts to sign; some of these contracts contain certain clauses that may pose challenges to you when you poach them. Also, some organizations take into cognizance the fact that pivotal employees or workers might be recruited by other competitors, and thus, bring harm, detriments, and jeopardize their organization. Hence, such businesses and organizations put in place contractual restrictions that may limit the extent to which an employee can work for a competitor; ranging from non-compete to non-solicitation clauses. This is particularly common with top performers and talents. You don’t want to pinch an employee or worker who might not be able to contribute fully because of clauses in their contract with a previous employer.
  2. Pinched or poached employees might come with old habits: A major challenge or danger of poaching is the fact that “old habits die hard”. Relatively, you can only try to help sharpen an individual, but you can’t change them. A major pitfall of poaching your competitor’s employee is that the hired worker may come with habits that contradict your organization’s vision and mission statement. These habits might include their inability to adjust or adapt to your company’s modules Operandi or process. Other habits might encompass absenteeism, the inability to complete an assigned task on time, or the inability to work and coexist as part of a team. Although such employees may have done a similar role and worked for a similar company, you don’t have to shed or lose the things that make your organization unique from other competitors. Moreover, there is a potential that a pinched staff may bring traits that might easily rub off onto your other staff, and be difficult to forget.
  3. Upsetting current or future relationships in the industry: You can’t pinch or poach a competitor’s employee without breaking some eggs and relationships. We are in a small sector and poaching from a competitor can cause difficulties and feelings of bad sentiment. Additionally, there is a very good chance that at some point, your organization will be required to interact with your competitors and shake their hands; be it for joint training sessions, industry exhibitions, or trade association meetings. Similarly, if you are likely to meet a competitor or need to maintain some sort of healthy relationship, permanently burning a bridge over a single hire may prove to be more damaging than beneficial in the long run. Relatively, you may also be opening the doors for competitors to attempt to steal your most qualified, valued, and treasured top performers.
  4. Loyalty is not guaranteed: A major danger of pinching staff is that employee loyalty isn’t guaranteed. How are you sure that such workers will not be poached by another organization in the future? Can you trust poached employees to keep your organization’s blueprints to themselves? It is important to think of loyalty when hiring employees to fill roles that are essential, vital, and crucial to the success and growth of your organization. Sadly, employees that are easily susceptible to poaching might become used to it; there is a chance, probability, and arguably inevitability that they may happily jump ships when other competitors offer them a better welfare package and other incentives. This in turn will pose a great risk to the growth of your organization especially if such roles or positions have a high degree of responsibility and long-term implications and importance to your organization.
  5. The negotiating power lies with the employee being pinched: An employee you want to poach holds all the cards because they are aware that you want them. As an employer that is focused on organizational growth, it is risky to leave the negotiating power in the hands of others. You may end up with employees making unnecessary and unrealistic demands. Even when you give in to such demands, it may likely cause a crisis among your workforce; your old employees may feel cheated and side-lined when they see a new member of staff getting all the goodies. You don’t want to go to the negotiation table handicapped especially if it is financial and economic related.
  6. An employee you are trying to poach from your competitor may be spying on you: Employees that are loyal to their current employer can use your poaching conversations as a way to gain intelligence about your company; they will end up sharing this information with their employer (your competitor). Spying has become a norm in a highly competitive business world; your competitor may send its employee to spy on you after learning of your poaching prowess and approach. They will end up using it to enhance their organization while leaving you with regrets. It is dangerous and petulant to have the secrets of your success in the hands of your competitors.
  7. Loss of respect from clients and customers: Many perceive poaching as a shady and unfair practice, hence, it can lower respect for your organization. The number of clients and customers you have played an important role in the success of your business or organization. If you become renowned for poaching your rival’s prized assets, you might lose the respect of your clients and customers. Such clients may not want to be associated with you, and might invariably take their patronage elsewhere. This will surely affect your business or company negatively.
  8. The poached employee might not be a good culture fit: The ability of an employee to be a good culture fit to your organization has been highlighted to be an essential component of organizational growth and development. An employee you poached from your competitor may turn out to be a bad fit for your work culture. There is no guarantee that they will be able to work flexibly or remotely for example. Also, they may not necessarily adapt to other work cultures such as working extra hours periodically and adhering to your company’s phone etiquette.


Conclusively, the process of poaching your competitor’s employee may come with additional costs, especially if you hire a head-hunter to procure the worker and provide a measure of distance for the poacher. Similarly, you may become a target for poaching if your competitors view you as a voracious poacher. Such firms and organizations will feel no remorse about poaching from your organization; this makes you susceptible to poaching. In addition, poaching nips your organization’s reputation in the mud. You may even find yourself fighting lawsuits for poaching another firm’s employee. Poaching a talented staff may seem like the solution to your problem in the short run, however, it is important to consider the consequences of such action. Therefore, go through the points above and think deeply before tapping and poaching a competitor’s employee.

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