Role of Referrers in Hiring

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jenna R. Pieper of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Charlie O. Trevor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ingo Weller of LMU Munich, and Dennis Duchon of University of Nebraska-Lincoln . They recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “Referral Hire Presence Implications for Referrer Turnover and Job Performance,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Pieper discusses the events and circumstance that inspired this research:]


This paper was motivated by a general curiosity about the critical role of referrers in referral hiring in organizational settings, and originated in a section of my doctoral dissertation. Referral hiring, or the practice of using recommendations of a current employee (referrer) to identify and hire a new employee (referral hire), often accounts for 30% to 50% of an organization’s filling of its job openings. To date, the attention of research and practice has focused primarily on the referral hires and their outcomes, leaving a glaring gap in our understanding of how referrers are impacted by the hiring of a friend or acquaintance. We were therefore interested in gaining insight into how the presence of a referral hire influences referrer performance and voluntary turnover.

Our findings, which are arguably the first to specifically examine how referral hiring impacts referrers, show that referrers are indeed impacted by the presence of their referral hire through a socially enriched workplace. In our study, employees with a referral hire present were 27% less likely to leave than employees without a referral hire present, and their performance improved by 5.1% when a referral hire was present. However, we found that job similarity (indicating heightened workplace exposure) between referrers and their referral hires, when compared to job dissimilarity, was associated with lower referrer job performance. Thus, it seems the costs, such as socialization and informal training, for referrers in similar jobs to their referral hires may offset the performance gains gleamed from the referral hire presence. Most important to our work is that we provide the only empirical evidence to date that referring enhances the social enrichment construct at the heart of referral hire discourse.

I think that future research on this topic should continue to consider the critical role of the referrer in referral hiring. My main advice for scholars would be to consider the interface between the various stakeholders in referral hiring, different referring pathways, the intricacies in how referring hiring unfolds over time, and the contingencies that affect its outcomes. A lot of fascinating contributions can still be made regarding referral hiring.

Finally, our work is important to practitioners. It demonstrates that the presence aspect is crucial. When coupled with the well-established benefits for the referral hire, referral hiring appears to be a value proposition for the firm because performance and retention gains emerge for both referrers and referral hires. Thus, our work would encourage continued practice of referral hiring. Practitioners can also take from our study that it is important to be aware of and work to prevent potential downsides associated with referral hiring.

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Linking Work-Family Balance and Employee Turnover

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Are employees plagued by work-family conflict more likely to leave their jobs?

Research has shown that work-family balance is crucial to maintaining mental health and organization well-being. When individuals experience work-family conflict, do organizations end up paying the price by losing valuable employees?

Glenn Withiam, director of publication services at the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, recently spoke with Sean Way of Cornell University to discuss this topic. Professor Way and Chelsea Vanderpool, also of Cornell, published the article “Investigating Work-Family Balance, Job Anxiety, and Turnover Intentions As Predictors of Health Care and Senior Services Customer-Contact Employee Voluntary Turnover” in the May 2013 issue of Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. Click here to download the podcast interview and here to access the article.

CQ_v53n3_72ppiRGB_150pixWProfessor Way told Cornell:

“We tested a model that connected work-family balance to turnover intentions, and we found that work-family imbalance was directly connected to employees’ intention to leave,” said Way. “Then we added job anxiety to the model and we found that it fully mediated the original link. In short, if your employees are worried about how their job is affecting their family, it looks like they are going to choose their family over their job.”

Additionally, Vanderpool and Way show that work-family balance affected voluntary turnover of these health care and senior services customer-contact employees. Way points out that the healthcare workplace is similar to the hospitality industry, with 24/7 operation, odd hours, split shifts, and uncertain customer relationships. Hence, both health care and hospitality industry managers might wish to note this study’s findings. Given the cost of voluntary turnover, Vanderpool and Way conclude that their study highlights why health care and hospitality managers should be concerned about their employees’ work-family balance and should consider ways to offset the stress of imbalances.

Click here to read the paper, and here for more articles from the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly May issue.

Thoughts and Feelings About Organizational Change

The change process is “not just thought out but also is ‘felt out,'” according to an article in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies (JLOS) — and managers who want to lead change successfully will benefit from understanding this interplay of thought and emotion.

Mel Fugate of Southern Methodist University, Spencer Harrison of Boston College, and Angelo J. Kinicki of Arizona State University published “Thoughts and Feelings About Organizational Change: A Field Test of Appraisal Theory” in the JLOS November 2011 issue. The abstract:

This longitudinal field study examines the relationships among the three focal constructs within appraisal theory—appraisal, emotion, and coping—at the beginning of change and their relationship with employee withdrawal at the end of an organizational restructuring. New theory is used to integrate past theory and research to propose and test a model containing synchronous reciprocal relationships between negative appraisal and negative emotions. Results confirmed a synchronous reciprocal relationship between negative appraisal and negative emotions, which suggests that appraisal is not a sequential process as often conceptualized and tested in the past. Negative appraisals and negative emotions also had negative relationships with control coping, which was negatively associated to intentions to quit, which in turn predicted subsequent voluntary turnover. This study thus extends appraisal theory and demonstrates it is a powerful alternative (theoretical) means for examining employee reactions to organizational change. Theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed.

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