Is It Legal to Ask Your Employees to Recruit on Social Media?

Social media laws may not expressly prohibit a LinkedIn recruiting "party" -- yet. But is it prudent to ask employees for candidate prospects in their social networks?

Just What Is a LinkedIn Party?

A "LinkedIn party" is a way for an organization to leverage its existing employees' networks to connect with passive candidates on the platform who are open to new opportunities but are not actively looking for a job.

LinkedIn parties are touted as a new spin on classic employee referrals. Companies gather their teams together with their laptops and go over current vacancies within the organization. Employees are then asked to search through their LinkedIn network to identify relevant candidates for those openings. Typically, employees are required to submit a specific number of candidates for each position.

Companies like LinkedIn parties because the events can instantly connect them with a long list of high-potential talent, and it engages current employees with the recruiting process while making them "evangelists" for the organization, putting the company name in front of hundreds of new eyes.

LinkedIn parties sound great, in theory. Many employers report closing out a party with upwards of 100 potential candidates for open positions. So, what could possibly go wrong?

Want great candidates, without the hassle or risk? Give Winston Resources a call for fast recruiting -- and great results.

The Considerations of LinkedIn Parties

At least 22 states have laws and regulations on the books that restrict employer access to their employees' social media accounts. While LinkedIn Parties don't require employees to turn over their user names, passwords or personal social media data about themselves, these events do pose potential problems. Demanding that employees provide contact information from their network certainly falls into a gray area, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

When it comes to potential legal snags, employers must also consider restrictive covenants like nonsolicitation agreements that an employee may hold with a previous employer. Such agreements prohibit former employees from providing the contact information of clients and employees to their new employer. Asking people to violate such agreements could land both an employee and the company in hot water.

Furthermore, relying too much on employee referrals can have an impact on diversity recruiting efforts. People tend to associate with similar people. If your company already lacks diversity, relying on a homogenous group of people to build a candidate pipeline could lead to further underrepresentation of protected groups.

LinkedIn Parties Can Alienate Employees

The potential legal ramifications of LinkedIn parties are important to consider, but it is equally important to consider their impact on employees. Most employee referral programs are completely voluntary. Managers ask their team members if they know anyone who might be a good fit for an opening, but no one thinks twice if an employee does not have leads to submit.

LinkedIn parties, where employees are expected to hand over multiple names, are a different animal. Employees may feel resentful if asked to solicit their network, and if they truly don't have anyone to submit, they may feel they will be judged harshly by their superiors on a factor that has nothing to do with their actual job.

A LinkedIn party can also fuel existing resentment among employees struggling in their current position. Perhaps they don't get along well with their manager, or they have been feeling overworked and burned out. These employees will not feel comfortable turning over the names of trusted members of their network, and their morale will sink even lower.

Still Interested in LinkedIn Parties? Keep Disclosures Voluntary

Avoiding the potential pitfalls of LinkedIn parties lies in the structure of the event. Mandatory parties, where people are required to turn over a certain number of contacts isn't a good idea from a compliance perspective or a morale perspective.

Voluntary disclosures, where employees are assured there will be no retaliation or judgment for not participating, keeps you on the right side of the law and the right side of employees' goodwill. Participation can be incentivized with monetary rewards, just like any employee referral program. However, it is critical that managers commit to withholding judgment of employees who choose not to participate.

Connect With Qualified Candidates Without Risk

Even if LinkedIn parties are voluntary, there is still a great deal of risk associated with these events. Employees who willingly participate could feel taken advantage of if the events become too frequent.

If you work in a competitive industry and you are looking to close skill gaps, the most effective way to connect with A-level talent -- without alienating your team or putting your company at legal risk -- is to work with a qualified staffing or recruiting partner.

Forming a partnership with a firm that specializes in your industry will instantly connect you to a deep pool of both passive and active candidates. Staffing recruiters work on expanding their network every day, and they can help you source and hire the talent you need, when you need them, without the risk.

Winston Resources can help your organization recruit better talent, faster -- without the risk. To learn more, contact us today!