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Shantal Feltham, president and chief executive officer of Stiris Research Inc.

Photographer:Jeff Feltham/JEFF FELTHAM/STIRIS RESEARCH

Raiding rivals comes with risks.

Ask Shantal Feltham, president and chief executive officer of Stiris Research Inc., based in London, Ont..

After stealing two employees away from competitors over the seven years she's been in business, including one from her ex-employer, she has found her competitors giving her the cold shoulder at industry events.

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More importantly, raids can lead to all-out talent wars, where businesses take turns hiring employees away from each other, warns Iain Morris, a Toronto-based partner with Mercer Canada Ltd., a global human resources consulting firm.

"We've seen a few cases of that happening," he says. "And it has led to some significant and broad bad feelings between organizations."

It can also lead to bidding wars, says David King, Canadian president of headhunting firm Robert Half International.

And that's not something most companies want to be involved in, he warns. "You're making money the primary focus, and that's not usually why people leave jobs," he says.

While Ms. Feltham says she has no regrets about the effects of her raids - "it was worth it," she says - she would not get into a bidding war. While she might present one counter-offer to an employee ready to move on, "if they say no, I'll say thank you and goodbye," she says.

"I don't want anyone working for me who doesn't want to be there. I don't want to convince them to stay, even if that person is going to be my competition."

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