Yesterday the tech world was all a flutter about the agreement reached between Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Pixar and The Department Of Justice. That’s a lot of headliners, huh? So what was the agreement? Well, it was more of an abolishing of an existing agreement.
For years, the afore mentioned companies had a secret handshake agreement, that was more like an iron-clad agreement, that prevented each of the companies from trying to poach talent away from one of the other companies. Essentially, this was a – you don’t go after our guys and we won’t go after your guys agreement. The DOJ had a problem with it because it violates anti-trust laws. Rather than face charges, these companies agreed to eliminate their official and/or unofficial anti-poaching agreements.
My first thought was, wow, I can’t believe that companies this big, desirable and profitable have to put in place agreements like this. Look, I understand why they thought they needed to. The tech sector is always on the lookout for high quality talent and generally that high quality talent is limited. In essence, there are very few super stars out there. So when you get one, you certainly don’t want your competition trying to lure them away.
This is perplexing though because companies like this should simply be investing in their super star employees to make sure that even if a more than fair offer was presented to them, they still wouldn’t entertain it. Does that sound idealistic? It’s a sad fact that it does sound idealistic. But, in reality that’s how it should work. How many times have we heard that it’s easier and cheaper to retain clients/customer than it is to attract new ones? Well, I can tell you it’s been beaten into my head for more than a decade. Guess what? The same holds true for employees. It’s easier and cheaper to retain them, than it is to recruit new ones.
As someone who gets about 2 calls and 5 – 7 emails a week from recruiters and competitors I can tell you that investing in what you value pays off. My agency has invested in my growth since day 1. They’ve created an environment where I can learn, be challenged and thrive. In the 18 months I’ve been here, I’ve yet to voluntarily look for another job, nor have I listend in earnest to anything a recruiter/competitor has had to say. I simply enjoy what I get to do and who I do it for…why? Because, I’m valued. Value of course isn’t just money. It’s so much more than that.
Anti-poaching agreements don’t retain employees. Investing in them does. Incidentally, this same loyalty paradigm holds true for relationships. No prenuptial agreement, marriage license or document keeps someone loyal to another person. Investing in the other person, because you value them, does keep them loyal.
I’m just blown away that companies that big, with such smart people, believe that paperwork, contracts, handshake agreements and formal constraints would keep someone loyal and stop them from entertaining other options. Invest in what you value…everything else will take care of itself.