The Ultimate Checklist for Your Employee Referral Program
Referral programs are a great way to keep everyone in your organization engaged while taking advantage of the most powerful recruitment channel available.
Professional recruiters do their best to bring in great talent, but they are not magicians who can identify the perfect hires every time. Today’s businesses are finding success when looking beyond conventional recruiters and resume submissions. Instead, you can leverage your existing workforce to recruit excellent talent through referrals.
People naturally gravitate to friends who have similar interests, so the network of your employees usually includes talented professionals with skills in similar areas. As a result, introducing an employee referral program (ERP) can help your organization to attract better talent at less cost.
Contemporary Modes of Talent Acquisition
Modern talent acquisition channels are very different from channels that were used in the recent past. Achieving competitively superior performance in recruitment requires long-term engagement through digital channels and data-driven talent discovery.
Demands placed on organizations by the digital economy have completely disrupted how recruitment takes place. In the recent past, employees could be hired based on broad job titles, such as marketing specialist or IT technician. Today, on the other hand, simply hiring a “marketing specialist” is not enough when you need, for instance, to outperform your competitors by using analytics and data analysis for superior keyword discovery. A “marketing specialist” would not know where to start, and the new hire would take years to truly excel in their role.
Instead, true experts are needed in today’s economy that is characterized by increased specialization. The best way to know if someone is genuinely talented and specialized is if you or one of your associates have seen how the candidate performs in the workplace.
Focusing solely on whether a candidate has a formal university degree or certain credentials will fail to get optimal results for two reasons. Firstly, these formal programs only rarely cover the specific skill that you need because they would not have enough students to fill a program on such a narrow topic and because many specialized positions depend on technologies that did not exist a few years ago. Secondly, although credentials are the best way humans have found to communicate their areas of specialization, credentials cannot be relied on solely because they lack depth, guarantee only a minimal skill level, and are ultimately self-proclaimed.
In contrast, you can get a nearly perfect idea of how effective a prospective employee will be in your workforce by depending on an employee referral program. Businesses that depend on employee referral program ideas can tap into the network of the hundreds or thousands of other specialized employees who work for them. These organizations can then look across a pool of millions of potential candidates who have already been personally vetted. Therefore, it is no surprise that 45 percent of new hires are now found through ERPs.
Getting Started With an ERP
Tapping into an employee referral program will enable your organization to attract excellent talent at minimal cost. To implement ERPs effectively, your organization will first need to conduct research to develop a strategy that is tailored specifically to your needs. You should look at solutions that have been successfully implemented by firms that are similar to your own. Also, consider factors that differentiate your organization.
The most successful programs depend on employee referral program software to help streamline the process of recruitment. Software can be used to inform people who are most likely to have associates in a certain field about a new role that your organization is recruiting for. These individuals can then consider who they know who would be good for the role. From there, they can share the job description for that role with potential matches.
The software can also keep the recruiting employee engaged throughout the recruitment process. They can be encouraged to continue looking for new candidates while motivating them to continue pursuing a potential candidate. By keeping the need for recruiting new talent at the top of the mind of your employees, you will be able to maximize the quantity and quality of referrals that are generated within your organization.
Checklist for a World-Class ERP
Implementing an effective ERP requires your organization to understand what factors lead to an ERP getting great results. Although ERPs have been around for a long time, modern ERPs are very different from the programs that were used in the recent past. Modern programs have to go beyond monetary rewards to provide employees with an incentive to bring in new talent. When these programs are implemented in the right way, they can yield powerful results that can transform your organization. To launch a successful ERP in your organization, use the following checklist to point your workforce in the right direction.
1. Emphasize the Need for Exceptional Talent
Employees are more motivated to help your organization recruit talent when they understand why their network is needed. Everyone wants to see their actions make a tangible difference, so employees can become strongly motivated to assist with recruiting when they feel as though they are given the opportunity to have an impact. Of course, the employee will also benefit personally from the appreciation they will receive from their associate when the recruitment process is successful. You should, therefore, regularly reach out to your employees to share why a skilled candidate is needed.
2. Get Buy-In From Managers
Larger organizations can only implement successful ERPs if they get buy-in from the managers who work directly with employees. If managers do not agree with the idea of doing an ERP, they may encourage their employees to dismiss ERP initiatives. You need to give your managers a reason to encourage their teams to embrace ERP wholeheartedly.
3. Leverage Social Media
Employees in today’s world are usually very active on social media. Make sure that your organization is engaging with employees on the social media networks that they use the most. If you have social media profiles dedicated to recruitment, use these channels to engage directly with employees who are actively involved in recruiting new talent. Social media can also be a powerful way of rewarding and recognizing employees who help with recruitment when this is done in the right way. Great employee referral technology should allow your employees to share open jobs over their social media channels very easily, which is also a very effective tool in improving your employer branding.
4. Contact Employees Where They Are
Aim to reach employees where they are, rather than them having to come to you to find out information around new open jobs, and updates from their submitted referrals. An employee referral program that offers a smartphone app is one of the most powerful ways of reaching your employees. Recognize that referrals are not made necessarily when your employees are at work, and this way you can easily update your employees on new jobs, and they can easily send referrals from wherever they are, and at any time. Using a smartphone app in an efficacious manner will keep recruitment at the top of the minds of your employees to maximize the number of referrals that your organization receives.
5. Apply Continuous Improvement
ERPs are an evolving concept, so you should regularly update your approach to account for new practices that have been discovered or for new technologies that have been introduced. It is also essential to study your implementation to find opportunities for further improvement. If you have a very large organization, you might want to consider using split-testing and other techniques to test the effectiveness of your approach.
6. Account for Job-Switching Incentives
Recruiting talent in today’s marketplace often necessitates getting a potential candidate to quit their current job to work at your company. Convincing someone to switch jobs can be difficult, so you need to teach your employees how to get someone to consider moving over to your organization. You only need to get the potential candidate to consider being hired, and your professional HR staff can take it from there. Teach your employees to mention certain factors such as company culture, salary benefits, flexibility, internal career progression and other things that may be important for your company when they are communicating with potential referrals.
7. Explain What Makes an Ideal Candidate
One of the main benefits of an ERP is finding talent that is truly the right match for a particular role. You need to make sure that your employees understand what an ideal candidate really looks like so that they can search for someone who is adequately qualified. People with general skills are usually not the best match for a highly specialized role. Therefore, you need to explain clearly and concisely in your job description what an ideal candidate looks like.
8. Target the Right Employees
Another important factor for improving the quality of talent that your employees discover is to ensure that you only reach out to employees who are likely to know people who are qualified. When targeting employees, consider factors that are unique to them, such as:
- role in your organization
- educational background,
- area of specialty, and
- interpersonal skills
You can then use this information to group employees by certain factors and use keywords to create lists of recruitment targets. Alternatively, employee referral software should enable you to target specific employees in relation to the types of open jobs you have.
Common ERP Problems to Avoid
There are also certain factors that can cause ERPs to fail to achieve your intended results. Being aware of the factors that lead to failure ahead of time will enable you to avoid potential hurdles so that your ERP can be a success.
1. Asking Employees to Look Too Widely
It is crucial for your employees to only consider candidates who they know very well. In a world where people often have thousands of “friends” on social media, many skilled employees in your organization are likely to be at least superficially connected to several people who claim to have the skills that you are seeking. However, if your employees do not know the prospective candidate very well, the fundamental purpose of network-based recruitment is undermined. To get results, make sure you give employees the option to provide “neutral” or “negative” feedback for referrals that may come through their social media channels. This way, your employees will feel comfortable providing you with the most honest feedback around the referral, and you will avoid having to sift through low-quality referrals.
2. Not Accounting for Geographical Differences
The dynamics of social networks vary widely between nations. If you are seeking talent from foreign nations, you need to consider the cultural dynamics of how networks function in that area. For instance, if you have an office in Southeast Asia, a place where large families are very important, you might get better results by asking employees to simply consider relatives who might be a good match. At the same time, you would have to be careful to avoid the problems associated with nepotism. As a result, it is essential to empower localized managers to tailor ERPs to regional dynamics. Provide these managers with an employee referral program sample or pilot, and give them the opportunity to make modifications to match the dynamics of their local market.
3. Implementing ERP Without Training
You cannot expect your employees to recruit effectively unless they have been trained on how to locate talent in the right way. Employees should know the benefits they will receive if they bring in a good candidate, and they should also be appreciated and rewarded for their referral activities regardless of whether their referral was successfully hired. You should offer training on how to use software-based solutions that your organization is using. Training also needs to cover the type of candidates that your organization is looking for and the best ways of reaching these individuals. Overall, when you provide your employees with adequate training, they will feel much more comfortable with providing referrals.
4. Making Inadequate Use of Software
Another major reason why ERPs fail is because many organizations do not leverage the full potential of software-based solutions. Leveraging software is crucial for getting results because you need to engage directly with the people who you are asking to act as recruiters on your behalf. Software enables you to communicate in a targeted way at scale. You can also use software for providing feedback to your employees about their referrals. Your organization needs to evaluate the full range of software solutions that are available to discover technologies that will be able to enhance your recruitment efforts.
5. Failing to Follow Up
Companies often fail to get results from ERPs because they do not follow up with people who claim to know of a qualified candidate. People get busy, and recruitment is unlikely to be their main priority. Unless you make a concerted effort to send follow-up messages to people who have submitted referrals, you will only get a minority of the referrals that you should receive. Encourage HR personnel and team managers to keep track of who is working on nurturing a potential candidate. Alternatively, employee referral program software will allow you to automate communication and keep all employees up-to-date regarding the status of their referrals, which is essential for long-term success.
Implementing ERP in Your Organization
There is no single ERP that works best in all situations. To get optimal results, it’s important to start by talking to the experts so they can help you decided on what features match the needs of your organization. Once you fully understand what options are available, you can make decisions to implement an ERP that will help your organization to attract high-quality talent.
Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Majella completed her studies with a Bachelor of Business majoring in advertising from Queensland's University of Technology. After a few years of working in the gaming and entertainment industry in the APAC market, she moved to Vienna, Austria and joined the Firstbird team as a copywriter in 2016. She has never looked back, and now works across marketing, partnerships and sales in Firstbird’s international team.