Steps to Avoid Employee Inbreeding

No, this has nothing to do with the number of forks in an employee’s family tree. Employee Inbreeding occurs when a company continuously recruits candidates that are virtual clones of the existing employee base. It’s only natural for us to gravitate towards those who share the same likes and interests as we do. When hiring for your team, job candidates who “click” and “fit in” with the established workplace culture often seem like the best candidates for your job opening. Many times these candidates have been referred to you as a friend or relative of a current employee. This would seem to make for a no-brainer hire, but research proves otherwise.

According to Career XRoads, referrals make up for an astonishing 54% of new employee hires. However, according to a recent study by BusinessFinance, this type of hiring practice may be an indicator as to why your business isn’t growing as fast or in the direction you’d like it to.

The problem may be that your employees think too much alike. Companies that are working to make changes in strategy to improve growth, retain more clients, increase average sales per ticket, etc. may have better luck if its employees are able to offer multiple ways of problem solving and provide varying perspectives on challenges the business is facing.

While bringing in referrals can make the selection process easier, hiring a large amount of referrals can stunt a business’ growth. Referrals aren’t necessarily a bad thing and there are steps to hiring that will keep referrals from turning your business into a “good old boy” establishment.

1. Encourage employees to think beyond family and friends when recommending talent. Let them know the qualifications of the position and ask for the best qualified candidate, not the ones they simply know best.
2. When asking for referrals, target your current top producers for their recommendations. This is your opportunity to exploit the fact that similar-minded people are attracted to one another.
3. Pay a bonus to employees whose referrals are hired. Spiffs like these are designed to make your employees think a little harder about who they suggest for the job. Avoid paying too much for a quality lead though or you may find yourself spending more time recruiting than actually hiring, which is sure to stall growth.
4. Consider posting your job openings online. This broadcasts your opening to a much wider audience, attracting a bigger pool of personalities and skills to choose from.

The idea is to make sure you’re getting the most qualified candidate for the job, not just the most popular one. Hiring referrals may make interviews and the hiring process go by quicker, it could also be the reason your business has been stuck in a rut.

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