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How ethical is Job Poaching?

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Job poaching has become an acceptable part of 21st century HR practice. Though legal, there have been questions as to how ethical or moral the practice of poaching is.

Job Poaching
How ethical is job poaching?

Simply put, poaching is a deliberate attempt of one organization to attract and employ talent from another organization. According to Job poaching is the intentional action of one company to hire an employee or group of employees currently employed at another competing company. Poaching talent from another company is a corporate move that can bolster a company’s workforce while simultaneously depriving a competitor of talent.

Reasons why organizations poach employees from other firms include; the need for highly skilled technical talent and to grow the workforce of an organization. However, there are unethical reasons to poach some of which include to learn the corporate secrets of a competitor firm and to deliberately sabotage an organization by taking away their most skilled workers. While some would argue that all’s fair in love and war and that competing in the business world is a survival of the fittest, some others will simply say poaching especially with a nefarious intent is just wrong.

In reality though, there’s actually a thin line between recruitment and poaching in that though the competing firm may have an eye on an executive from another firm, they simply offered better incentives which the executive will find more attractive compared to what he is currently enjoying and he is then “encouraged” to move to the new firm.

According to, employee poaching can be considered right and wrong depending on the frame of reference for etiquette. If an organization feels the need to be seen as a company that is friendly and nice within its industry, then poaching their industry-friends’ employees won’t be something they are comfortable with but the not too nice organizations will have no issues with poaching talent directly from the competition. opines differently by positing that poaching talent is completely acceptable. According to them, while a person’s loyalty to their employer is an admirable quality, it is not required by any means. Professionals are allowed to choose where they want to work and when it’s time to move on to a new job. Everyone wants to progress in their career and pursue opportunities that can change their life for the better. You should certainly strive to retain great talent and help them grow with your company but you won’t always have a senior position available for someone to move up to or align with their personal timeline. argues that the ethical issues in “passive” candidate recruiting are different. It is unethical to focus on already-employed people to the exclusion of candidates who reach out to you, strictly on the basis of each group’s employment status.  While this is interesting, what happens if the people reaching out to you don’t have the skill set in demand by your organization?


Poaching Talent

Also,, posit that though the search for talent is ruthless, you should consider the pros and cons of poaching employees from others because many organizations are contemplating the same approach towards your top performers. Also, knowing it is impossible to control the actions of the people who work for you, it is paramount to create a culture that promotes career development and personal achievement and this will give you an edge over companies with a dysfunctional environment as far as job poaching is concerned.

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