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8 Tips To Consider For A Successful Employee Referral Program

By Expert Author: savio vadakkan

Employee referral programs (ERP) are now part of the recruiting arsenal of every organization irrespective of the size or nature of its business. Referral programs offer value to recruiting with its effective quality hires and savings in terms of both cost and time.

A recent employee referral index survey conducted by Zalp indicates referrals as the No.1 source of hire. In addition, employee referrals are typically of higher quality, and these employees often stay longer than hires sourced from other methods.

Designing an employee referral program is easy but implementing and running it successfully is a task which needs a proactive approach and detailing to ensure that the program is resulting into good quality hires.

ERPs continue to outperform every other external recruiting source in spite of a conservative approach being taken. Imagine how powerful an employee referral program can be if there is a dedicated management and technology used?

An effective strategy and analysis of your referral program can ensure that employee referrals will contribute to over 40% to your hiring in comparison to the other recruiting sources. If your organization is in the process of developing a new program or restructuring your old one and are looking to move beyond just a mediocre performing referral program, this checklist will ensure to give you action steps for building a world class employee referral program.

Each of these steps have proven to be effective in some form of the other but can work for you only if there are consistent efforts and planning for each of them.

1)Have a branded employee referral program

An employee referral program is not just an HR-initiative but it is a campaign which will be successful only if there is participation from the entire organization. Hence branding the referral program becomes every important. To begin with, you have catchy name and logo for your program. A tagline would be even more helpful giving employees more touch points to remember the referral campaign which will indirectly impact the participation levels.(Microsoft – “Do you see yourself in others?”; “Google — Good people know other good people”)Referral program flyers, promotional mails, pamphlets will ensure that employees get into the “referral mindset”

Make it fun. Pass out t-shirts with your company logo and “We’re hiring!” printed on the back. Hang posters on the walls of your office that promote the program.

Likewise, having a strong employer brand also becomes important since it is easier for your employees to approach and build relations with other professionals. Having a powerful employer brand is also essential for convincing prospective candidates to accept a referral.

2) Simple and clear: That’s the right way!

Remember that a simple and clear referral program will always ensure more qualified referrals. Hence it is very important to be very clear and precise in terms of all the rules of the referral program i.e. eligibility, reward policies, referral qualifications etc.

Many employees don’t know where to look for prospects and how to convince them to accept becoming a referral. It is very essential to provide them with effective material or starter tool kits to direct them towards the best approaches for employee referrals so that they can help you find good quality hires.

3) Communicate your expectations to your employees

The expectations from the program should be clearly communicated to your employees since it is a organization based initiative. It is very important for the employees to know and realize that employee referrals not only help them hire quality talent but will help them play a pivotal role when it comes to building a great team. This often acts as a superior motivator over monetary rewards because it converts referrals into an opportunity to provide the organization superior talent and they themselves benefit out of that by getting the very best co-workers.

The employees need to be educated about the critical role they can play in filling the team with top performers and innovators. The organization should make sure that the employees understand the benefits, track the result of referred candidates, reward successful employee referrals and discourage referrals spams.

4) Link your referral program with social media

A referral program cannot be a high-performing one without having a strong social media effort and link. This close link becomes important since most of the connections and relationships which an employee has or builds with other professionals happen via social networks. Employees who spend hours building these relationships can easily convert them into referrals if there is a close coordination between the referral program and social platforms.

Social media recruiting is a cost effective and efficient method of finding qualified candidates since most of the social networks are free to use and practically everyone uses them. Employees can easily taken vacancies in front of a large pool of qualified candidates by simply sharing jobs on their social networks.

5) Prioritize your jobs for effective results

The true measure of an employee referral program is when it successfully fills high priority or hard-to-fill jobs with ease. These prioritized jobs when filled with a great hire can have the biggest business impact.

It is a sin to waste employee time and burden your referral program’s team with “junk referrals” by involving jobs that can be filled through normal sources into your referral program. The best employee referral programs do not cover all job types but instead focus on hard-to-fill positions.

6) Structured Reward Policy for your ERP

Your employees and their network connections are busy people with other priorities on their “To-Do” and that’s when an effective reward policy plays an important role. It is very difficult to expect employees to start referring without an incentive attached. Offering rewards can be the motivation your employees need to participate in a referral program.

Cash rewards are not the only motivators but gift cards,complimentary offs, concert tickets or even social recognition can also be great rewards. Also having a well designed reward policy is necessary to ensure that the program is successful. Tier your rewards for each step in the referral process eg. You could offer say $500 for a successful hire, but if someone gets a first interview, you could offer $100; a second interview, $200. Consider different rewards depending on how far the applicant gets in the hiring process.

7) Being Proactive

It is very important keep your referral program alive and thus promoting your referral program and at the same time being responsive plays an important role. Your employees devote time and efforts in referring good quality candidates and hence processing these applications on time become very important to keep the engagement levels high among the participating employees.

Acknowledging every referral received with a simple “Thank-you” reply mail can do wonders. Also, reminder mails can help increase the participation in referral programs. Mails can be simple text mails or designed email templates…the important point here is making sure there is a follow up so that the program is always fresh on the minds of the employees. There may be many queries within your employees regarding the employee referral program, policies, reward system which should be answered in the right way with the right time.

8) Take every referral seriously

It is every easy to ignore the referrals made by an employee since it is not relevant to the open positions at the moment. Don’t do this to your employee. Regardless of if you hire the candidate of not, take every referral received seriously, and atleast make sure you follow up with your employee on why the referral was not a good fit and the same would be considered for further openings if any.

Hence it is very important to store each and every referral received with relevant tags for future corresponding openings if any.

Every ERP is bound to receive referrals that may not be relevant to current vacancies.
However every referral is valuable and must be systematically stored for future use as and when corresponding openings come up. A mechanism should be in place to store unused referral resumes in a centralized database with tags which would be accessible to all recruiters

The growing demand for employee referrals as a quick and cost-effective hiring method has transformed the way businesses recruit and hire in almost every industry. The digital age is here and it’s not going to fade soon.

Author Bio :

Savio Vadakkan is the Marketing Professional at ZALP, a unique employee referrals solution. ZALP helps organizations with promoting your referral program & Designing an employee referral program also using advanced Social media recruiting techniques.

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