Recruitment Non-Poaching Agreements and Other Historic Fairy Tales…

So, our friends at Workforce had an interesting article recently – When the War on Talent Ends with a Peace Treaty – regarding some national non-profit teaching institutions who regularly found themselves competing against each other for teacher talent. Being “non-profit” these organizations felt that it was their “mission” to find a better way to recruit teachers – a better way meaning more cost effective and using less organizational dollars in recruitment. For them, non-poaching agreements were part of the answer to help save costs. Non-poaching agreement = staff retention. Less turnover = money saved.  And in the end? This would allow these organizations to spend more money on their “missions” and make the world a better place to live. Amen.

Sounds good, right? Non-profits squeezing every penny out of every donated dollar to ultimately give “our children” the best education in the world? Let’s not kid ourselves, Teach For America (TFA), KIPP, etc. are organizations that are “non-profit” by definition, but I’m positive their Ivy League educated leadership are not living in one-room apartments, eating government cheese and taking the bus to work – as many of their constituents are. And ultimately, the individuals hurt by non-poaching agreements are those professionals looking to get a job in that chosen field (in this example they’re teachers – but all the examples play out the same way).

Let me explain. Instead of education, let’s take a look at health care. Under the premise above, it would seem safe to believe that all “non-profit” hospitals should be able to come up with similar agreements, right? I mean, we are just trying to make people better, keep them healthy, it’s our mission. We won’t take your doctors, nurses, etc., and you don’t take ours – agree? Good. Now, I can go back to coming up with some policy, like dress code, how to make our lunch menu more exciting, or some other valuable HR deliverable.

Instead I have another novel idea, how about – don’t suck!  Yeah, that’s right, stop sucking as a place to work, and you won’t have to come up with agreements with your “competition” about not recruiting your people away from you. Stop sucking in not paying what the market bares for pay and benefits. Stop sucking in developing your employees and giving them a great environment to work in.  You don’t hear about Google or Zappos or Pepsi meeting with their competition about not poaching each others talent. Why? It’s illegal – it’s called collusion.  It’s the main reason we have Unions and Unions suck more – so stop it!

To recap: Non-poaching agreements bad – bad for talent, bad for business, bad for America (but good for HR folks who don’t want to make their places of employment better). Stop Sucking as an employer. And, Unions Suck.

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Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett SPHR, is the ultimate Mama’s Boy!  After 15+ years of successfully leading HR and Talent Acquisition departments for Fortune 500s and smaller technical firms, Tim took over running the contingent staffing firm HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Serving as the Executive Vice President, Tim runs the company his mother started over 30 years ago, and don’t tell Mom, but he thinks he does a better job at it than she did!  Check out his blog at Because he's got A LOT to say, and FOT just isn't enough for him.


  1. Congratulations on speaking your mind. I ahve written a number of articles on the benefits of being a better employer – it is amazing how many companies will do anything and everything to get better people other than being a better employer!
    I agree with your thoughts

  2. Wouldn’t such agreements just be a market response to rising costs? Making contracts between parties is a basic part of market action. If this costs them less money than raising wages so high no one would ever dream of leaving, then why not?

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