They’re Poached Then You’re Punched

It’s a difficult thing when a loyal, dedicated employee walks into your office and tells you that they are resigning because they have taken a job someplace else.

It’s a punch in the gut, hard and unexpected.

Hearing those words, probably the last thing you expected, leaves you feeling like you are dying on the inside. On the outside you smile and wish the person the best in their career.

Resignations have always taken place but lately the pace seems to be picking up as the economy improves. Retaining good employees is starting to be a serious problem.

You’ll find out sometime after the initial announcement that the person wasn’t actively looking for a job; they seemed quite content to be working for you.

Then one day they received a phone call out of the blue with an opportunity they couldn’t refuse to discuss further.

Conversations ensued, meetings took place and before you know it, one of your better employees, one you had invested in, and had designs on to take on additional responsibility, walks into your office and tells you that they’ll be gone forever in a couple of weeks.

There are three things that every owner should know about being punched and then learning your employees are being poached out of your company.

First, there is now, and always has been, a severe shortage of good employees. And there always will be.

I believe there are people working today who really don’t want a job. These are people who regularly show up late, leave early and do their best not to do anything while on the clock.

Why people are this way is not important; the fact is, in many companies, the employee population is dominated by people who aren’t interested in anything more than getting a paycheck.

So when an executive recruiter or a company recruiter who has been scouring Linked In calls your company and speaks to a hard working, loyal, dedicated employee who shows a progressive track record of increasing levels of responsibility, the employee is going to listen.


Because the caller acknowledges that your employee is growing, learning and contributing and with that mindset and work ethic, the employee is flattered that someone outside the company who doesn’t know them at all would recognize and acknowledge their accomplishments.

The flattery continues when your employee is asked, “Are you open to hearing about other opportunities not just to make more money but to be recognized for what you have accomplished in your career?” what do you think they will say?

Second, it would be nice to say none of your “high potential” employees are not actively looking for another job but that isn’t always true. How many years will your best employees go without a reasonable raise? How long can you hold off paying some type of bonus? How many more additional assignments and responsibilities can you hand them without a title change commiserate with the level of work they are doing?

Your best employees know when there are good times and bad times. They’ll weather the storms for only so long before they start to feel as if the company is never going to recover.

If you fail to take care of them, they have no choice but to take care of themselves.

If you fail to recognize them and appreciate them for their hard work and results, they will remember.

If you don’t offer them a better future, they will move to someplace that will.

Third, as always, it’s a simple choice for the owner: to decide to take action and retain the best employees or suffer the consequences when they depart.