A Double Dare to Poach Employees…

As hiring has increased over the last year, we saw the articles about how hard it was going to be to keep employees. All of a sudden, companies had to remember what retention meant. I can guarantee that during that time, some talent pros in corporate America sat around and talked about developing a “blocking strategy” for people raiding their talent.

Do companies still waste their time on this? Do you sign up a bunch of contingency recruiters so you can hold the non-solicitation of your employees clause over their heads? Limit phone list distribution or prevent the downloading of org charts? Block certain third party recruiters from your phone system? You probably spend time training your receptionists how to screen out blind cold calls so no one gets to find who the Director of Technical Services is, don’t you?


Many recruiting and HR leaders will tell you that any retention plan in a tight labor market needs to include a blocking strategy. I, however, think it is the most paternalistic, ridiculous, old school HR activity out there.

Ten years ago, I guess this might have made some bit of sense. Information distribution was narrow, and you did not want to provide low hanging fruit to your competitors or recruiters. Those days are gone. The “strategy” of blocking will fail, for many reasons:

  • If you have good talent, the market will find it. It’s not a secret, competitors are motivated and markets are efficient.
  • There’s this thing called the internet. People, like FOT’s own Kelly Dingee or Glen Cathey, are pretty darn good at using it to find people. Kelly only hears, “How did you find me?” about 900 times a week.
  • Employees who are thinking about leaving will. Your lame blocking strategy won’t fix it. If they are not 100% satisfied, limiting distribution of your org charts is probably not the cure.

Want to see the opposite approach? Jason Goldberg, CEO of Fab.com, posted on his blog, Recruit away our team. I dare you. Heck, I encourage you.

As Fab.com has been growing like crazy, recruiters have invariably come calling trying to recruit away key team members. Thanks for the flattery. I encourage anyone and everyone to please come and try to recruit away our Fab.com team members. I dare you. Heck, I encourage you. A roster of our team members can be found here. We update that list twice per month with new members of the team. Most of our team is also on LinkedIn. Need their phone numbers? Just email me at Jason at fab dot com and I’ll gladly get you in touch with them… everyone has a choice as to where they want to work. … We’re confident about our ability to attract and retain the best.

I love this guy. It only would have been better if he double dared you, a la Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.

The moral of his story: Add up the time you are spending on blocking strategies, stop doing that, and spend that time on making your company a good place to work. Don’t work to prevent them from leaving; work to make the good employees want to stay. Understand that you don’t get to decide when people leave and where they work—they do.

FOT Background Check

RJ Morris
R. J. Morris is based in the STL as the Director of Talent Acquisition and Management for McCarthy Building Companies, a multi-billion dollar national firm. Like many others in the FOT clan, he’s a sports nut who can endlessly draw the parallels between athletes, sports and the talent management game. I know, I know, as if we needed more of that. He has 10 years of practitioner experience leading talent efforts in corporate HR and another 7 years in leadership roles on the agency side, so he gets both sides of the desk. Talk to R.J. via emailLinkedInTwitter...


  1. Frannyo says:

    *So* fucking true. At a previous job, they did all that paranoid crap, totally in line with their fear-based, disrespectful management style generally. Blocked LinkedIn, made everyone down to the receptionist sign a noncompete, blah blah. You know what it got them? 70% turnover. In a year where everyone got raises and the company made tons of money.
    Now I work for a manufacturing company with no margin and no raises for the last three years, and no one leaves. Because everyone is respected, knows what to do to win, challenged appropriately, and knows that the company owners genuinely care. Average tenure: 11 years. Not glamorous but completely recruiter-proof.

  2. R. J. Morris says:

    Franny-Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. What I like about the quote from the article is that folks at fab.com are probably getting some more recruiting calls, but they also know that their CEO thinks they are great and trusts them. He is also getting a ton of free press…who had heard of fab.com before this?

  3. Lori says:

    Great post! I love Goldberg’s insouciance. Wish that could be packaged.

  4. John says:

    Damn straight. Last time a checked, employees weren’t herded into a barn, hog tied and branded with their company’s initials or logo. It’s called at will employment for a reason.

  5. Rick says:

    I thought your post was great! Just like in sports -You need to play to win not just play not to lose when you have the lead. Not only does fab.com keep their best talent and get free press but I’m sure they get more calls from potential recruits with their aggressive approach.

  6. Chris Brablc says:

    Great post, RJ! Definitely agree in today’s world, you should focus more on doing things to keep your employees at your company than trying to prevent others from taking them.

  7. Will says:

    Love Jason’s blog post! As long as he has the employee retention to back it up!

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