How to Create an Employee Referral Program That Works

Employee referrals are unsurpassed in improving hiring volume and the quality of new hires. That’s according to ERE Media, and they go on to explain that this rich resource is #1 in improving time to fill, retention and applicant-to-hire ratio. If you don’t have an employee referral program, it’s time to pull one together.

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Build a solid referral program that keeps your current employees engaged and on the lookout, and you’ll create a strong candidate pipeline. Here’s how to get started.

Establish a Positive Company Culture First

Before you ask employees to participate in a referral program, ensure that they’re happy. Your employer brand is more than the impression that job candidates have about the company. And Greenhouse suggests that building the brand is at least as important for existing employees as it is for anyone who might work there in the future.

Think of your employer brand as the foundation that you can build upon. You want to attract the right people. But to do that and make it stick, the brand can’t be a recruitment marketing strategy. It’s got to be real for everyone who works there. Otherwise, it’s just a facade and retention will become a larger problem.

Broaden Your Referral Horizons

Do you have a certain go-to group of people that you look to for referrals? And do you impose limitations on who can refer for which department or job? If so, it’s time to look to the horizons and let more people participate.

Well-connected people, such as company managers, could make referrals for people who aren’t necessarily in the same area of expertise, says Recruiterbox. Likewise, people who aren’t employees might have great connections. Think about clients and people who have retired. Just beware of chronic bad referrers. Take those with a grain of salt, or discourage their participation. They’ll only slow you down.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Don’t forget to show gratitude for the good referrals that you get. Employees, and others in the program, are more likely to keep up the good work if there’s something in it for them. And that doesn’t just mean tangible perks. A sincere “thank you” or company recognition goes a long way, especially if it’s made publicly or shared on social media.

You don’t need a monetary reward system, says Recruiterbox, although it doesn’t hurt. Hardly anyone would turn down a special luncheon, for example. Maybe your company website could institute a page just for recognizing employees who make a great referral.

Raise Company Awareness and Keep it High

If you want the program to take off, you’ll need to spread the word and raise awareness. It could begin as early as the onboarding process, recommends Recruiterbox. New employees might be enthusiastic about referring a friend who is either actively looking for a good job or who might be a candidate in the future.

Send out routine emails, especially to people who have proven to support the referral program. Let them know who you’re looking for. TalentHQ also says that referral contests are a great way to stir up enthusiasm and usher more people in your pipeline.

No matter what you do, your referral program will have times of feast and famine. But if you’ve got automated candidate matching technology working for you, it’s on the job 24 hours a day. You don’t have to pat it on the back or promise it a paid day off. It keeps on searching for qualified candidates that match your job requirements, and bringing you and all of those candidates together.

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