How to make your employee referral programs work
Employee referral programs have excellent conversion rates. Candidates identified through referrals are three to four times more likely to get hired than those who are not. Companies who use referral programs have 46% average retention rate. Which is to say that employees identified through referrals stay for a longer period of time. Furthermore, applicants hired from a referral program require less time onboarding, training as they learn about the company culture through the employees who referred them. In addition to all of this, referral programs also help fill hard-to-fill positions and new hires from a well-designed referral program tend to be top performers.
If employee referral programs are one of the best ways to hire, then how can you best leverage them?
Here’s are a few tips:
Train and engage employees
Let’s imagine you have a robust employee referral program in place. But remember the work has just begun. Start engaging your employees. Generate curiosity. One of the biggest reasons why such programs fail is that employees don’t know how to use the system or when timely announcements are not made regarding open positions. Your job is to nudge employees into making referrals for new, open positions.
Send out emails, update intranet, pin-up posters on boards, mention in meetings, etc. Encourage current employees to comb their network and refer crème-de-la-crème. When they refer the best people from their network, you won’t have to screen weaker profiles.
Simplify the process
For starters, the job description should be compelling as well as easily understood. Your employees should know what the end game is. Don’t make them guess. The two advantages of simplifying the entire process are that they will efficiently look for someone who can do the job and forward you quality profiles.
Next, make the application process simple. Use an easy-to-use referral software which is user-friendly, intuitive and doesn’t drive referrers away! Ask for what is important instead of asking them to fill pages after pages.
One reason employees don’t refer candidates is that once they’ve done their job, they are often kept in the dark about the hiring process. THAT is wrong because they are acting as recruiters for you. By cutting them out, you are sending a wrong message. The best thing to do is focus on setting expectations right from the start. Tell them when they can expect to hear from you. Keep them in the loop. Towards the end, regardless of whether the candidate was shortlisted or not, send a thank you note. Appreciate their gesture of helping the recruitment team and that you look forward to their contribution in the future.
Remember, you want to give employees a consistent experience, and over a period of time, you will see some star recommendations coming from their professional network.
Recognize and Reward!
You’ve spread the news? You see the commotion? Have referrals started coming in? Bravo! Now, how about applauding efforts and thanking those who hustled and helped you get started with hiring? One of the most common ways companies express gratitude is through a referral bonus, or cash rewards once referred applicants are hired. Employees appreciate such perks at work. At the same time remember that you can’t buy employee referrals with bonus schemes alone. At Google, they made a mistake of doubling referral bonus only to find out that it didn’t work!
For employee referral programs to work, you have to provide a more holistic experience to your employees. This is to say that your company culture plays a crucial role. People who love working at your company will automatically make referrals as they want others to experience the same!
Think of other ways of recognizing their efforts. How about a weekend getaway? Or thanking them in meetings or open house or a public recognition of a start referrer by the CEO? The positive reinforcement tends to improve the likelihood of them participating in the future.
In the end, don’t forget to measure your efforts and get feedback from your workforce. Fill the gaps. Most importantly, make your company a place where people look forward to work in.