Poach Our Employees, Please

The companies on the other end of the poaching, of course, lose knowledge and skills when their employees leave. Moreover, replacing employees creates labor competition and drives wages higher, and the fear of losing employees forces a firm to plan ahead for something that may or may not happen. So some companies have responded with aggressive, or even illegal, antipoaching strategies.

But recent research suggests that, under some circumstances, poaching can benefit both sides of the equation, the poacher and the poached. Poaching can aid the transfer of knowledge, with turnover spreading best practices throughout an industry. Poaching also lets firms share the burden of maintaining a highly skilled workforce—making it easier for growing firms to cheaply acquire workers and stagnant firms to shed them. New research suggests yet another benefit: when a less productive firm in the supply chain poaches from a more productive one, even the firm losing employees can experience boosts in productivity and sales revenue.

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