4 Steps To A Great Employee Referral Program

Find your next great hire from your best source: your existing workforce.

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What is an Employee Referral Program?

An employee referral program is a way to source candidates for a job opening internally. With a referral program, your employees actively recruit for your company by recommending qualified people for any new positions that become available in exchange for incentives.

Not only can the process save you time and money, but it can also help attract higher-quality candidates while improving employee relations. There are four main steps any business should take to create a successful employee referral program. Let’s take a look at how to get your program off the ground.

How to Start an Employee Referral Program

Why spend extra money advertising on job boards when you can easily invest in your employees  – while shaving off time from the recruitment process. An employee referral program could revolutionize how you hire new candidates and boost employee engagement.

Step 1: Plan your unique referral program

Before you announce a new referral program to your employees, you want to have a good idea of what your unique program will look like. The planning step includes researching referral program examples to see what works best and conducting employee surveys to see what incentives they find exciting.

This stage is also where you will outline the referral process and specify your hiring requirements. When an employee looks at a job posting, they should have no doubt in their mind as to what a good candidate for that position looks like.

When posting a new position for your referral program, you should always describe your company culture, explain the job requirements, and outline the ideal candidate’s personality traits. Putting in the time early on and successfully planning your program’s details will make it easy for your employees — and for you — to succeed.

Do your research

Are referrals appropriate for some positions and not others? How do you ensure that employees understand what kinds of people thrive in the company? Is money enough of an incentive, or do other non-tangible rewards matter more?

Conducting research should be your very first step. Find out how other companies run their referral programs to get an idea of what you should include in yours. While you can borrow from successful programs, make sure your program is suited to your business and employee needs.

Conducting interviews with employees or sending out surveys is a great way to do further research. You can include some questions to discover what incentives your employees would like. You can also ask questions to confirm that they understand the company culture.

Detail your referral process clearly

Refining your referral process before launch will ensure it is streamlined and easy to use. Employees should not have to struggle to submit referrals. Create and clearly communicate a simple process that makes it easy to get as many potential candidates as possible.

By outlining your process, you can also check that it makes sense to others. One process might be logical to someone in HR but feel overly complicated to someone in sales. Outline, collect feedback, and revise until you have the best possible process that every member of your organization can follow.

Step 2: Iron out the details

Once you have done your research and successfully outlined your new employee referral program, it’s time to look at the details. This is the part where you take all of the information you’ve compiled and determine each step of your referral process and your plans for bonuses.

Decide on your employee referral incentive

Now that you have collected information on what incentives your employees would like to see, it’s time to decide on the referral bonus or incentive.

Sometimes the incentives you had in mind don’t align with the incentives your employees would like to receive. If that’s the case, you should always try to compromise so that your employees don’t get discouraged. If they don’t feel like you listened to them during the planning process, then they’re not likely to participate in the program.

Choose referral bonuses that are manageable for your business and reflect the needs of your employees. Many organizations find that a combination of monetary and non-monetary rewards is typically the most successful. A $2,000 bonus is exciting, but a $1,500 bonus with extra vacation time, more flex days, or free tickets to a sports game or concert could get more people talking about it.

Make referrals easy

When you first outlined the referral process, you should have received valuable feedback on how to make it more user-friendly. As you finalize everything, make sure your referral process explains the requirements for the new position, outlines the ideal candidate’s persona, and describes the company culture.

You should also provide information on how you will keep employees up to date on their candidate’s application. Employees who receive updates on the process are more likely to use the referral program again, even if their initial referral is unsuccessful.

Step 3: Spread the word about employee referrals

You finished planning and designing your new referral program! Now it’s time to promote it and get your employees excited to participate. There are a few ways to make your employees aware of the new program, but you will be most successful by using a combination of several techniques.

Explain your incentives

Treat your referral program like anything else you want to sell. Use smart marketing tactics to promote it before the official launch. Work with your marketing team to send out emails, create flyers, and host Q&A sessions. There are countless ways to get your employees talking about the program.

Explain the incentives and make your employees aware of the bonuses they can get from referrals. If your bonuses reflect the employee discussions you had during the research stage, highlight that point in all of your promotional materials. Let your employees know that you care about their opinions and that you made an effort to provide meaningful incentives.

Have an official referral program launch

Once your team knows about the program and the bonuses associated with it, it’s time to have the official launch. A launch can be anything from a company-wide meeting to a special event at a convention center.

Keep the event fun and engaging. Your employees don’t need to know every minute detail about the program. They just need to know how to get involved, how to learn more, and what they can receive for successful referrals. Some companies even hold competitions between departments, which can be a great way to get more results-driven employees involved.

Here are a few ideas:

– encourage social sharing

– encourage re-posts of the jobs on their Linkedin pages

– encourage contests and leaderboard-style gamification

Step 4: Keep your program exciting

Your work doesn’t end when you launch the referral program. It’s important to keep the process exciting and relevant for your employees. By monitoring the program, improving its user experience, and getting feedback from employees, you can ensure your referral program will be successful for years to come.

Conduct follow-up interviews

Make sure your employee referral program continues to excite your employees year after year. By conducting follow-up interviews or sending out annual surveys, you can make sure that your incentives reflect the changing needs of your team.

Surveys and interviews are also a great way to ensure your employees understand and stay engaged with the process. Some people might not raise questions if they don’t understand, and you could be missing out on some exceptional candidates.

By putting in the time and effort to create a high-quality referral program tailored to your company’s needs, you could save valuable resources when recruiting. Prioritize communication and planning when creating a successful referral program. Do your research and talk with your team about what incentives excite them. Your employees will present you with highly qualified candidates year after year.

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