If you want to attract talent, one popular strategy is to ask your employees to recommend professionals, and provide an incentive. Whether it’s a cash bonus or a prize, your staff will take advantage of the offer and bring in their connections. The goal of an employee referral program is to fill roles and retain quality employees. However, your employees may not share your perspective. What if their idea of best and brightest doesn’t match yours? We’re here to talk about the dark side of employee referrals.

How Referrals Work

If we break down the nature of employee referrals, it becomes clear that new candidates are most often family members or close friends of existing workers. Some referrals are former co-workers and colleagues, but people typically refer those close to them. You can offer a formal incentive system, or a more casual benefit if a worker brings in someone qualified. Often, referred candidates report high job satisfaction and low intent to leave. So, what’s the problem?

Major Drawback of Referrals

The biggest problem with employee referrals is the lack of diversity. It can be really difficult to expand your organization and create an inclusive and diverse corporate culture when you’re hiring within a limited pool. The most common “referred” employees tend to be straight white males. A homogenous workforce will often struggle with community involvement and innovation. If you are truly striving to be an equal opportunity employer, you’ll need to use more than just employee referrals to hire the professionals you’re looking for.

How to Get the Best Referrals

One way to get quality referrals is to hire colleagues and co-workers of your staff. Research shows that bringing on professional as opposed to personal referrals will benefit your team more. Former coworkers are typically more engaged and dedicated to their new position. You’ll also see higher levels of retention.


It’s also important to rely on hiring methods other than employee referrals. Utilize different hiring platforms to diversify your candidate pool. If you want to bring some fresh ideas into your workplace, try hiring through Instagram or Facebook Jobs. Looking to infuse innovation into your projects? Host open interviews at a local university.

Need help with hiring?

If you’re looking to hire in a hurry, try a partnership with a staffing agency. Working with Colorado’s best temporary staffing service, Job Store Staffing, can get you ahead of your competition. For access to the best listings in Denver or Aurora, contact us today.

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