Bring Your Friend to Work Day
Last week was national Bring Your Child to Work Day. I told my friends and family—and meant it—that I would have been far more excited about Bring Your Dog to Work Day, and the pitter patter of little paws. Be that as it may, one thing I know for sure is: A day devoted to bringing a friend to the office could be beneficial for your organization; your organization’s community; and an individual in need of a new, or more fulfilling, job.
From an organization perspective, it helps the quality of your talent pipeline to have the greatest number of applicants recommended by your own employees. Your employees are biased because these people are their friends, but by the same token, these people are their friends. That means they are most likely decent, reliable individuals. I’ve heard it said that, whenever possible, it’s best to hire for attitude and train for skill. When a prospective candidate is a personal friend of an employee, you already know that candidate is likely a safe bet personality-wise.
Skills-wise, they also are likely a safe choice, as the employee who brought them into the office, and pushed them forward, doesn’t want to be made to look bad. Let’s say I had a dear friend, I loved spending time with, but who I knew was not capable of meeting deadlines, and who I knew tended to become curt with others when under stress. As much as I value that friend, I wouldn’t want him or her in the office under my recommendation because it would reflect badly on me, and might even become a personal embarrassment.
Imagine you have a Bring Your Friend to Work Day, and at least half of your employees bring a friend to work that day. Only some of the friends—and maybe very few—will end up working for you, but those are still employees you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten, and in the meantime, you also accomplish something else—you spread goodwill throughout your community for your organization. The friends of employees who meet your managers and executives and are treated graciously while observing a well-run, happy environment likely will recall the positive experience totheir friends and family. That can only lead to more customers and more prospective employees applying for jobs.
I have ideas on how Bring Your Friend to Work Day could work. It should be on a Friday during the summer to encourage a relaxed, more casual tone. You would register your friend in advance, filling out an online form on the company intranet (or having your friend fill it out and then giving it to you to upload into the system) detailing their top job skills, experience, and extracurricular interests (who they are personally). There also would be a section where the person recommending them could write a paragraph or two about what makes this person so special. This form should be different, more casual, and quicker to fill out, than an official application for employment form.
This would be an early stage of introduction to the organization, and the person invited to meet and greet their friend’s colleagues may not know for sure they want to apply for a job, let alone which job they would apply to. It would be more about letting people meet someone who mightbe interested in working for the company, and letting the person invited as a guest simply meet other people they want to connect with, whether for a job, or for another aspect of their lives. It’s as much community outreach as it is an attempt to find new employees.
A day to introduce friends to your company also is a morale boost. Presumably, only happy employees would want to show a friend where they work and introduce them to colleagues. It’s fun and satisfying to share something positive in your life with friends. It’s also fun to have it take place in your office, so you can show friends exactly what, and who, you’re talking about when relating work experiences to them.
Children (some say) are cute, but friends of employees are equally, or more, important to invite to the office. Some may be currently or soon to be in need of new jobs, and all can become megaphones spreading the word throughout your community of how great your organization is and why it seems like a great place to work.
Does your company already host a Bring Your Friend to Work Day? How do you do it so it’s a success? If you don’t already host an event like this, would you? What would be the challenges and advantages of adding this day to your corporate calendar?