How to get more Employee Referral - 7 real tips

An Employee Referral program can prove to be the best source for recruitment. This is because having referred candidates while hiring can cost less while having better quality. Studies show that referred candidates once selected, have higher chances of staying longer than those who join through traditional sources. The process is also potentially faster than usual.

Considering the effectiveness of this mode of hiring, it becomes important for an organization to get more from their employee referral program. But employee referral programs are effective only if the organization has truly invested in a great work culture because no one would want to jeopardize his / her relationships by referring friends and family to a toxic workplace. So having an attractive company culture is recommended before taking any other step in the direction of expecting appreciable results from an employee referral program.

The most critical task should be to make the referral program highly outcome oriented. To do this, here are 7 real tips:

  1. Having a definitive purpose
  2. Creating a clear job description
  3. Providing attractive incentives
  4. Acknowledging good referrers
  5. Enhancing user experience
  6. Keeping employees better updated
  7. Experimenting with referral tactics

Let's dig into the details:

  1. Having a definitive objective

Employee referrals can be used for filling specific roles that require a niche skill set or experience, increase candidate pipeline for specific functions or locations, improve inclusivity and diversity etc.

Before starting a referral program, it's important to have a definitive objective including metrics which will be used to analyze performance later. Once this is in place, design the program's structure which can best achieve your objective. Structure can include time frames, incentives, employee locations or departments to be involved etc.

  1. Creating a clear job description

Employees don’t instantly know what their companies are looking for in candidates. For example, they might have a vague idea of what “culture fit” means. But specific job requirements may be less clear, especially if employees are asked to refer people who work in different departments and job functions.

Include links to job descriptions when sending emails asking for referrals and encourage employees to read them. To prevent unqualified referrals, it can be a good idea to remind employees that not every friend or acquaintance makes a good colleague as well as to highlight what you’re not looking for, through presentations, videos or workshops.

  1. Providing attractive incentives

Money is a popular incentive but selling an experience (such as paid holidays, tickets for events or contests) helps to better market your employee referral program. And some of these non - monetary incentives are less expensive than cash awards. Salesforce.com surprised employees who participated in their referral program with baseball tickets.

If you announce that you are using money as an incentive, opt for a tiered system: it’s the most effective tool to motivate employees to participate in your referral program. Give higher rewards for harder-to-fill positions.

An important aspect of incentives is that the payout must be ‘on-time’. It is very much seen that the seemingly endless wait for the incentive to reach an employee has a negative impact and de-motivates any further participation in referrals.

  1. Acknowledging good referrers

Along with offering incentives, try to publicly recognize effective referrers. For example, if an employee has referred ten people, three of whom were hired in the past six months, you’ve got a star referrer on your hands. Make sure they know you appreciate their effort in team or Company meetings.

Any acknowledgement, ranging from an award to public praise from the Management can be meaningful. Make these acknowledgements a codified part of your referral program policy.

  1. Enhancing user experience

A user-friendly application process is essential to get candidates to apply for a job, and the same applies to referrals. Your referral process shouldn’t be lengthy, complicated or require lots of clicks. Otherwise, you risk driving referrers and referrals away.

Consider using recruitment software or an ATS which has employee referral functionality. For example, Expertite allows recruiters to send requests for referrals for particular positions and automates the entire employee referral workflow, allowing recruiters to keep track of the referrers, referrals, and where they are currently in the hiring process of the referred candidates.

Always ensure that a referred candidate has a great experience whether selected or not, else it reflects poorly on your employee.

  1. Keeping employees better updated

Employees who refer candidates expect to receive updates on the process. Not hearing back from recruiters can make employees reluctant to refer again, a mistake which undermines your employee referral program.

Communicate when possible. Let employees know what’s happening at every stage of the process. When a referred candidate isn’t selected for an interview, send referrers a thank you email anyway. Encourage them to keep looking for great people. That way, employees won’t feel underappreciated.

  1. Experimenting with referral tactics

Survey employees to find out what prompted them to refer (or, not refer) and what suggestions they have for improving your referral program. A successful referral program continues to adapt by making use of a variety of initiatives.

Some tips to try could include:

  • Giving days off as a reward for the referral makes them take the initiative more seriously.
  • Encouraging employees to invite their connections as guests to your referral events so that they can meet and interact with hiring managers and recruiters directly.
  • In order to encourage participation among employees, you can offer small gifts even if the person they referred doesn’t get the job.
  • What is a better welcome for a new hire into the company than a meal with the person who referred them? In this meeting, the referrer could give the new employee an insight into the company culture and other details.

There can be numerous such methods and tactics to encourage employees to be active members of your employee referral program.

Employee referral programs get great results, have an excellent return on investment, decrease cost per hire and bring a multitude of benefits for everyone involved in the hiring process. So, why not give it the extra credit it deserves and pay more attention to it to boost your recruitment, both quality-wise and quantity-wise?

About the author:

Arindam is the Co-Founder of Expertite, a next-generation SaaS platform which brings Candidate Engagement, Automation & Analytics to Recruitment, making it Smarter, Faster and more Predictable. Expertite helps companies improve their candidate engagement by >40%, increase predictability by >30%, reduce time-to-offer by >25% and reduce costs by at least 10%.

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