A popular recruiting tool is to set up an employee referral program. The underlying premise is that birds of a feather flock together, or good employees have friends and acquaintances that will potentially also make good employees. It is an alternative kind of employee background check, one where a current employee provides the validation for the referral.
When you have two friends working together you are prone to have two completely different experiences as a result of their familiarity. One of the positives is that the current employee will help to self govern the referral employee. When you put your stamp of approval on someone, you want them to be successful because it then ads to your own success and credibility. If the referral employee turns out to be a dud, that can tarnish your reputation, so you are more likely to offer advice and guidance to help keep that employee on track.
Because the employee is giving you an unofficial pre employment screening, you have a deeper insight about the referral than if this person applied directly from the street. You can ask the employee’s opinion of the referral, and quite often will get much more information about where they work, why they are looking for a job, etc than an application would ever tell you.
Keep in mind that there are questions that you still legally cannot ask. These are the same ones that you legally cannot ask any applicant. Some things are better left for a professional employee background check, instead of a privacy violation caused by drilling someone’s friend.
Of course the downside is that relying on information from a friend can be unreliable and biased. If you were fired for stealing from your last job, would you tell your friend, or would you only tell them that you were out of work and looking for a job? Friends, no matter how close, may not actually know the full story, or their friend’s work habits and ethics. Just because someone is a good friend does not necessarily make him or her a good employee.
When two friends are working the same shift together, there is a potential for a negative work ethic to come into play. It might be as innocuous as two friends spending their work shifts gossiping and joking around instead of actually doing productive work. It is also more likely that two friends, who have a longer history together outside of work, will turn to employee theft. Because the requisite trust needed to steal together is already there, it is much easier for employees who are friends to create and execute schemes to steal from your company. It is also more likely that a dishonest employee will knowingly refer a friend with the intention that this particular friend will help make it easier for the employee to steal.
A few safeguards that you can put into place are to not hire friends, relatives, etc. when the referring employee is management. You can also decrease the likelihood of negative actions if the two friends are scheduled opposite shifts. Then there will be very few opportunities to slack on the job, or worse, to steal.
Employee referrals are a good place to find applications, as long as you keep in mind that there are basic hiring procedures designed to help ensure a better quality candidate. Employee background checks are vital to the process, regardless of where an application comes from.
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