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When the Recruiters Come Calling

December 1, 1996
Related Topics: Retention, Featured Article
Wall Street’s top performers are being lured away by global companies, both one at a time and in groups.

"These raids are no longer isolated instances. They amount to a legitimate trend," says Joan Zimmerman, a partner in the executive search firm G.Z. Stephens Inc. based in New York City. She explains that before firms employ defense tactics, they need to evaluate whether the individual or the team is critical to the business. If the employees are key players, the next question is how far should the company go in trying to retain them?

G.Z. Stephens states three common strategies have emerged as those most effective in combating the recruitment frenzy. These strategies apply outside the confines of Wall Street.

  1. Counteroffer.
    Offer equal or more money. Of course, management needs to watch how these inflated compensation levels impact the bottom line. This tactic also may throw compensation scales out of balance. And counteroffers can become a dangerous precedent, creating the expectation that they’re standard practice.
  2. Environment.
    Management can make environmental changes, ranging from reshuffling departments and responsibilities, to bigger offices and new and better resources.
  3. Praise.
    U.S. firms should be laying it on thick, generously doling out the praise and encouraging team spirit and corporate loyalty. U.S. investment banks are giving their most sought-after stars promotions, greater responsibilities and more credit for company wins.

Over time employees become invested in a company. They establish a comfort level, build some interpersonal relationships and even acquire an unrecognized reliance on office infrastructure and industry or product/service knowledge. Between this and a well-planned reaction to the efforts of recruiters, there’s a better chance of holding on to your employees. "Chances are," says Zimmerman, "if the stars weren’t looking for employment elsewhere to begin with, then they may not want to leave and can be urged to stay."

Personnel Journal, December 1996, Vol. 75, No. 12, p. 23-26.

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