Staffing by Employee Recommendation

The power of employee referral

There are numerous effective recruiting channels. However, one thing is often underestimated: the staffing of positions through employee recommendations. The success rate and efficiency of this form of recruiting has been proven by numerous studies.

The principle of employee recommendation

The principle behind the programs often advertised with “Employees recruit employees” is simple. As a human resources manager, you communicate the vacancies to your employees. They can recommend them to friends, acquaintances and relatives. If the recruitment is successful, there is a bonus for the employee, regardless of whether it is financial or in kind.

It is important that the procedures and bonuses are transparent. The employee must know when and in what form he will receive his bonus and whether the recommended candidate will be shortlisted. It is best to define a fixed procedure and guidelines for this. In addition, provide a contact person for any questions you may have.

Advantages of the employee recommendation

Filling a position by recommending an employee has a number of advantages. On the one hand, this form of recruiting is much more targeted and promising. Your own employees know your company’s internal processes, culture and the most important requirements and tasks. The probability that the recommended candidate fits the corporate culture is therefore high. The risk of leaving the company during the probationary period due to the climate in the company is ttherefore lower than with other forms of recruiting.

Your current employees care about their own reputation within the company. They usually recommend such acquaintances, friends or relatives who are reliable and fulfil the most important qualifications. Frequently, the employee recommendations are also old colleagues whose working methods the employee knows. The pre-selection of potential candidates is therefore very accurate.

This optimal selection results in enormous time savings. You therefore have to invite considerably fewer applicants to interviews for the advertised position. In addition, the training period is usually reduced after hiring. Employees who have successfully recommended a new colleague often see him or her as their protégé and support him or her during the induction phase.

Another decisive advantage is the considerable cost saving. Employee recommendations are successful, especially with bonuses as an incentive. These are however clearly smaller than for example the costs of a Headhunters. In addition, the low risk of misplacements results in lower costs, since a new search, for example after an unsuccessful probationary period, is no longer necessary.


This type of staffing also entails risks. Above all, the danger of the reputation of nepotism can exist. Make sure that you use the same standardised assessment criteria for recommended applicants as for applicants through other channels. Otherwise, envy and envy can arise within the company. In addition, a different treatment of applicants would cast a bad light on your employer brand.

Another disadvantage can be the reduced diversity of the workforce. The candidates who recommend employees tend to tick similarly, are about the same age and from the same social stratum. In the long run, important impulses could be lost.

For the employee himself, such a recommendation process can be frustrating and worsen the mood in the team. For example, if he constantly recommends new candidates who are not hired or does not receive any feedback on his recommendations.


If used correctly and implemented in a transparent, fair and standardized manner, staffing by employee recommendation is a powerful recruiting tool. It saves time, costs and is extremely efficient. However, you should never use such a recommendation program as the only instrument, but always in addition to other recruiting forms. Otherwise you will limit the range of job advertisements too much.

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