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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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Five ways to boost your recruitment referral programmes


Ziv Eliraz is the Founder and CEO of Zao, a social employee referral management platform.

Employee referral programs are common in many organisations. These programs encourage members of your internal and external network to seek out great candidates. In fact, a recent whitepaper by Oracle indicated that referrals perform three to 15 percent better than hires from other sources, and candidates hired through an employee referral had a 25 percent higher retention rate than those hired through other means.

While these results are great, many organisations have a hard time getting employee referral programs running. Plus, even after a program has launched, participation may dip. When you’re faced with this dilemma, check out these five ways to boost your referral program.

Make participation easy

The fact is, your employees may not have the time to participate in an employee referral program. However, if you make participation as easy as possible, you will likely have better results.

Make sure your employees actually understand how an employee referral program works and the benefits associated with it. This may mean sitting down with your team and walking them through the process. In addition, try to use systems that take the work out of the referral process. So, when your employees actually start using the program, it should be relatively simple to use.

Rule of thumb: Employees should spend about 10 minutes using the system every week.

Change the rewards

Employee referral programs that have rewards are great since your network actually has an incentive for their work. However, try switching up rewards so the bonus is higher for more urgent positions. In addition, add rewards for quality effort.

For example, you can provide gift cards to those who refer leads, but cash rewards to employees whose leads are actually hired. The variation keeps employees motivated and gives them yet another reason to provide great referrals.

Rule of thumb: Reward all efforts, not just successful hires.

Add gamification

Gamification is the use of game mechanics to encourage engagement and instantly recognise the efforts of your employees. Gamification uses game elements to create healthy competition between your employees. This makes the referral process fun since teams see who’s winning in terms of referrals and who they need to beat to score those rewards. In addition, some systems will also allow you to socially recognise the efforts of your team members, which can be the push your employees need to produce more referrals.

Rule of thumb: Create a leaderboard that displays the top referrers and the number of referrals they have made.

Use automation

Managing your employee referral program can be tricky. So, instead of manually trying to keep track of everything, use automation. Automation keeps your program on track since it does all the legwork for you.

Let’s say you wanted your employees to check out job postings twice a week. You can automate emails with these listings through a set schedule. Your employees can then expect to see a list of jobs on Mondays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m., which can help them blast them out to their networks.

Rule of thumb: Don’t differentiate the schedule. If you’re going to send out job postings to your network twice a week, make sure you do so.

Provide feedback

Feedback is an important part of the referral process. It’s how you can understand how well your program is working and what you need to do to improve it. In addition, feedback helps you to solve problems before they become bigger, such as a drop-off in participation or unqualified leads.

Giving feedback doesn’t always have to be negative, either. You can thank those who are doing well and publically showcase positive results. This helps your employees to understand how to be better in the referral process.

Rule of thumb: Make sure all feedback is timely. Don’t keep your employees waiting!

What do you think? What are some other ways to boost your employee referral programs?

Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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