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Anti-poaching vs Non-compete Agreements?

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A conversation that is often heard in organizations today is about IT staff retention, and how to prevent the poaching of top skills.  So the question arises which is the better approach – Anti-poaching vs Non-compete Agreements.

At one stage organizations entered into “employee poaching agreement” whereby they agreed to not poach from the other organization.  It was, however, considered that this kind of agreement “distorted the competitive process,” and limited workers’ career growth and, as a result, they are banned in a number of countries.

The alternative is a “non-compete agreement” or non-compete clause in a contract between an employee and employer.  It states that the employee will not enter into competition with the employer after he or she terminates employment.  The purpose is to prevent a former employee from taking trade secrets to a competitor after terminating employment and may also be used to prevent an employee from opening up a competing business.

The main consideration with a “non-compete” agreement or clause is that is need to cover a set period of time, often a few months, to prevent workers from jumping directly from one employer to a competitor after the termination of their employment.  But organizations cannot ask workers to not work for a competing organization for the remainder of their career, or for a period of time that would impact their career.

In our opinion, organizations need to do whatever they are able to do to retain top IT skills and prevent, as far as possible, poaching.  But in the words of Sir Richard Branson “Train people well enough so they can leave.  Treat them well enough so they don’t want to!”

What else are you doing to retain your top IT talent?  Let us know.