Recruitment Non-Poaching Agreements and Bad HR

Workforce had an interesting article – 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 bears 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 other’s 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 are bad. Bad for talent, bad for business, and 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.

7 thoughts on “Recruitment Non-Poaching Agreements and Bad HR

  1. Teach for America (TFA) has staffing goals and/or staffing level agreements for each of their partner school districts. Non-poaching agreements makes it harder for a school to recruit experienced teachers for open roles. If they cannot get experienced teachers, they can always get inexperienced teachers from TFA.

    Is this really about heavy handed retention or more about eliminating TFA’s (or KIPP’s, or etc’s) competition for teacher staffing?

  2. “You don’t hear about Google….” except you do. At the very highest levels. The tech nirvana that is invoked every time anyone in HR talks about one of the tech giants belies a much less rosey reality.

    Pixar, Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe and Intuit all settled out of court in a case that exposed their systematic collusion to underpay their own workers.

  3. I don’t disagree with your point, but two of the three companies you choose for your example aren’t such great examples. Google and Apple just settled a suit for years of collusion.

    PepsiCo Vs Redman is the guiding caselaw behind non-competes because they tried to keep an employee from leaving with trade secrets. Despite both being great places to work, sometimes people make a change.

  4. It would be one of the few class action suits I would be in favor of…employees in those firms suing their collective bosses over restraining them from competing for jobs. As attorney general I would also recommend prosecuting the HR and C-Level leaders who do that under the RICO Act. Those two things would go a long way to reducing the formal and informal non-compete activities that are rampant…I assume you were tongue in cheeking it since some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley were charged several years ago.

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