Poaching is a Must for Winning the Talent War. We Can’t Abide by Outdated Etiquette Rules.

For decades, poaching another company’s employees has been seen as taboo. An etiquette rule that businesses shouldn’t break.

Of course, it’s always good follow business etiquette. But etiquette changes with the times. For instance, it’s no longer acceptable to kiss a woman’s hand by way of greeting, but it used to be. None of these rules are writ in stone.

So where are we at with poaching? Is it still taboo, or is it a necessary part of doing business?

Is Poaching Acceptable in 2019?

Well, let’s take a look at some statistics on the labor market.

According to LinkedIn, 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent who aren’t actively job searching. It’s reasonable to assume that these people aren’t job searching because they’re already gainfully employed.

Meanwhile, unemployment just hit a 50-year low. In fact, the gap between the number of jobs posted and the number of unemployed individuals just hit a record high.

It gets worse: with baby boomers finally retiring, demographic shifts are leaving us short on qualified talent. Furthermore, the skills gap has left us without enough skilled workers for a variety of sectors, including manufacturing, IT, healthcare, and more.

In short, it’s extremely hard to find the talent we need to succeed. Although there are some situations where legal or ethical concerns bar us from recruiting from competitors, for the most part, there’s nothing wrong with this practice. Non-compete agreements or proprietary information is another matter, but for your average employee, this practice is entirely ethical.

The Entire Business Suffers When We’re Short Staffed – Making Poaching a Necessity

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t ever need to recruit from our competitors or other businesses. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. We need talent to advance our business, but we know there’s not enough qualified talent to go around.

Businesses face a choice: do we abide by outdated etiquette rules? Or do we let our business suffer from falling profits, weak performance, and more ill effects?

It’s a no-brainer. Without quality talent, our entire business suffers lasting consequences. Many open seats will directly harm profits, while any open seat will have indirect effects. Without the right people, we struggle to meet our business goals, deliver weaker performance, and experience falling morale. It can easily take months, years, or even longer to recover from these consequences.

Besides, the prevalence of recruiting employees from competitors is a good thing for the business world. Employees are humans, not animals. They can make choices for themselves and they’re never “owned” by their employers. No one has “rights” to a professional because they got to them first (unless there’s a non-compete involved!).

When employers recognize that a competitor may try to recruit their talent, it further incentivizes them to pay employees well and keep them happy. Ultimately, this benefits businesses and employees on a broad level.

How Do We Recruit Employees From Other Businesses?

Well, here’s where it gets a little tricky. We can’t exactly call up a competitor and ask them if their employees are interested in new opportunities.

What businesses can do is leverage third-party sourcing services. We’re seeing this more and more in the HR and recruiting sectors. Businesses want their HR or recruiting teams to do more in less time, so the company turns to a third-party to help source some candidates.

Here at Qualigence, we help businesses source quality candidates from all over the place – including from competitors. We can even help companies build out org charts of competitors, so they can extend offers to employees who are ready to move up but haven’t got the offer at their existing employer.

An Extraordinary Market Requires an Extraordinary Approach

The labor market is posing unprecedented challenges. We haven’t seen a market this tough in decades – longer than most of us have even been in business. So why we would expect the same old strategies to deliver satisfactory results? Remember the nine most dangerous words in business: “This is the way we’ve always done it here.”

Companies looking to hire the right talent need a new approach. Recruiting from competitors is one of many bold new strategies that will give them a distinct competitive edge.

At the end of the day, the choice is simple: do we want to keep our competitors happy by respecting outdated etiquette rules…or do we want to win the talent war?

And furthermore, what option will our competitors choose?

These are critical questions for any business leader or TA professional to consider. They could determine whether we succeed or fail as the labor market tightens.

The right people, empowered to perform.