As hiring gets more difficult, employee-referral programs can be a reliable, inexpensive way to find great talent. But take note: Relying too heavily on referrals can place you at risk of a discrimination charge. That's because, studies show, employees tend to refer people like themselves.
Employers have been slapped with million-dollar discrimination judgments for homogenous hiring that resulted from employee referrals.
To structure a legally sound referral program:
Limit the use of referrals to no more than 40% of hires. Don't make it your only recruiting tool.
Use several channels to spread the word about open positions: your website, career fairs and public advertising. Always post jobs internally, too.
Open your referral program to all employees. Don't accept referrals only for certain job types...