For many employers the whole notion of allowing their employees to serve as references for former employees may sound like heresy. The no-comment policy is so deeply ingrained in the typical corporate mentality of many HR people that even the slightest suggestion that it might be possible to allow employees to serve as references for departed employees is usually rejected out of hand.
The point to remember, however, is that the benefits of reference checking pay equally valuable dividends to the employer, at the end of someone’s employment with a company, as they do at the beginning. When the prospective employer asks job seekers to sign a waiver allowing them to talk to prospective references, that’s one side of the coin. Asking departing employees to sign a waiver allowing current employees to talk to the next prospective employer is simply the other side of the coin.
If a departing employee wants to list one of more current employees as references – and those employees have said they’re willing to serve as references for the departing employee – all the current employer needs to do is have the departing employee sign another waiver releasing the current employer from liability for anything references may tell the prospective employer, as long as the current employees serving as references are told specifically:
- To only respond to questions that have to do with job performance.
- To only offer honestly held opinions about job performance.
- To state only documented facts about job performance.