Few years back, I recommended a friend to join our company.
I liked his way of working. There was an opening in the company for such a person at that time. So, it was a nice match. He got selected, started working for us.
After few weeks, some problems started, I heard about them from both sides. My friend complained to me directly. His manager also spoke to me about his attitude and how he is frustrated working with my friend.
Thankfully, both of them were not blaming me. I didn’t (and can’t) force that manager to hire him. Just like I felt he will fit in this job, his manager would have seen something good in him before hiring him.
But that doesn’t matter now. Things are not working. My friend decided to switch to a different company. His manager was happy to hear this.
Few days after he submitted his resignation, I got a notification from our HR that I will be paid referral bonus for recommending this friend to the company. It was a significant amount.
As per company policies, anyone who is recommending anyone else will get a referral bonus six months after that person joins the company and works there continuously. So, legally, I am eligible for that bonus.
But, my friend was leaving after six minutes, one week!
Technically speaking, my referral didn’t help the company. May be he worked there for six months, but it caused so much friction, no one benefited from it.
So, it didn’t sound right to accept that referral bonus. I was hesitating how to say this to HR.
After few days, the payment was done on my account. Now, it became tricky: Refusal itself was difficult, now I have got the money, returning it is going to be a huge challenge!
Meanwhile, my friend left the company. But, no one from HR asked me to pay back that referral bonus!
Now, it is left to me to either tell them the truth, or sit silent. I didn’t lie, at the same time, I was not telling the complete truth in this matter.
It was a very complex decision to make. I didn’t worry too much about losing that money, but I was confused if I am right or wrong: Should I keep the money because as per company policies my referral stayed for six months, or I should return the money because the hire didn’t benefit the organization?
I thought a lot about it and decided to return the money, because I felt numbers (six months) shouldn’t drive policies. May be my referral stayed in the company for the required time, but what he did during that time should matter. By that rule, I am not eligible to get the referral bonus.
So, I spoke to HR and finance teams to return the referral bonus they paid me. I can’t describe how happy and relieved I felt that day!
This Kinley AD talks about a similar concept, a bit over simplified, but I guess the message is important!