How many of your recent hires are from employee referrals? If the answer is zero, we have good news and bad news. First, the bad: You’re missing out on an opportunity to reduce your time to hire, cost per hire, and improve the quality of applicants hired. Here are just a few fast facts:
- Referred candidates are 55% faster to hire, compared with employees sourced through career sites. (Source: HR Technologist)
- Employee referral programs can save companies $3,000 or more per hire. (Source: Recruiter.com)
- 88% of employers said that referrals are the number one best source for above-average applicants. (Source: Dr. John Sullivan)
Now for the good news: It’s not that difficult to set up a referral program and to rely on your top talent to bring more of the same to your organization. There are just a few steps to consider before you kick it off.
Turn Top Employees Into Top Brand Ambassadors
First, do a morale check. Unhappy employees are not going to be a source of referrals (and you really don’t need more unhappy employees right now, do you?). If you’re not sure how your employees feel about your company, consider adding some employee satisfaction questions to your annual survey. Even better, send a pulse survey with only a few questions – and make it anonymous. If it’s not anonymous, employees might not be as honest as they want to be. It might be a tough pill to swallow, but at the end of the day, you want their true and unfiltered opinion so that you know what in your organization is working and what needs some work. Ask about morale and ask whether or not employees would be willing to refer friends or former colleagues to open roles at your company.
What do your employees get for referrals? Your employees might ask, “well, what’s in it for me?” Make sure the rules are clear, especially for incentives. Offering a financial reward for successful referrals is a good way to motivate employees to participate. You can also offer non-monetary rewards, like extra PTO days or gift cards (food delivery services gift cards are just the best). Do we need to add that your entire leadership team needs to approve all of the above? Remember, recruiting is not their job, so if you’re not offering some sort of reward for them to do someone else’s job, don’t expect them to jump up and down, instead expect to hear “that is not my job!”
Make it easy for employees to submit referrals. Offer a clear and easy-to-use referral form or online portal. Consider automating the process so employees can submit the referral's resume, LinkedIn profile, or any other contact information to your recruitment system. The fewer steps, the better – but you do need to be able to track the source of hire so your employees get rewarded for referrals.
Encourage employees to share on social media. Not just your open jobs (though your career website should have a “share” button for every open role), but also sharing their experiences with your company from events or holiday parties, or even just simple appreciation posts. Here’s an example straight from Talentcare’s All-Hands in Austin from December. We’re cute, right? Scroll below the group photo to see what team members shared. These are perfect opportunities to ask your employees to share their experience. It’s like advertising, but for free…and who doesn’t love free advertising?!
Ask employees to leave reviews. Yes, this is more about your employer reputation than referrals, but it’s important to encourage managers and leaders to make a habit of asking employees to do this when they talk about how much they love their jobs. Ask for reviews, part deux: Respond to reviews, both negative and positive. Not sure how to go about it? We have another great example from Talentcare client, Proud Moments. Check out their Indeed reviews, grab a pen, and take notes. You can see that they respond to every single review, good or bad. Be like Proud Moments! It matters: 76% of Glassdoor users agree their perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a review. (Source: Glassdoor.co.uk U.K. Site Survey, December 2019.)
Related Article: 7 Sites to Monitor Your Employer Reputation
Show appreciation to employees when they refer someone, whether or not the referral is offered or accepts the role. A thank you note is great, a gift card is better. If the referral is hired, send a thank you to the referrer and one to the new employee they referred (try saying that three times out loud). Give them a shout out in an all-employee email, throw them a party…what we’re really trying to say is be grateful for and excited about referrals. Make it fun and watch how many more employees will want to advocate for you!
By following these tips, you can turn your top performers into brand advocates that help you find qualified candidates and strengthen the connection between your current employees and your company. And that, my friends, is what we all want at the end of the day.
Does your employer reputation need a little work before you kick off a referral program? That’s a big part of what we do at Talentcare and we’re ready to help. Drop us a line or slide into our DMs.