6 Tips to Help You Create Your Next Employee Referral Program

By Joel Passen

Creating a well-run employee referral program should be a no-brainer. If you aren’t convinced or you’re trying to build a case for additional leadership and financial support to create one, I suggest reading Dr. John Sullivan’s post on ERE. Hiring better people faster while doing so more inclusively at a lower cost is pretty compelling stuff.

So, you’ve built the case and won support for this new internal referral program. Like most of us, you probably already had the support and building a new referral program has been on your to-do list for a while now. Anyways, it’s go time. While most of us have a pretty good idea of how an employee referral program works, technology has advanced making programs much easier to set up, run, manage and promote. Trust me, sending a monthly email to ask for referrals isn’t enough anymore.

So what are the critical components of a modern employee referral program? This is where employers often get stuck. Here are 6 tips to help you create your next employee referral program.

1. Keep it Simple

The biggest risk when creating an employee referral program is complexity. You are designing a program that will touch all of the actors in your hiring process and people in extended networks. Keep it simple. Your program should never require training.

2. Mobile Matters

According to the GlobalWebIndex Study, the number of people accessing the internet via a mobile phone increased by 60.3% in the last 2 years alone. Think about it. Most of us are constantly looking at our phones. Remember the bit about making it simple to participate?  Mobile matters more now than ever before. Your employee referral program must be where your uses are. Today, that’s everywhere.

3. Get Socialized

Don’t think your employee use social networks? Think again. According to ComScore’s It’s a Social World Report, “social networking ranked as the most popular content category in worldwide engagement, accounting for 19 percent of all time spent online”. Referral programs thrive on an abundance of connections and never before have we been more connected with our connections. Enabling your employees to broadcast jobs to their networks provides exponential exposure creating a low-cost way to reach potential job seekers quickly.

4. Incentivize AND Gamify

It’s important to incentivize employees for referring applicants. Most experts agree that cash is still king.  But, more and more, research shows that employees want to be recognized for small contributions. People enjoy seeing their progress and they like to compare their results with others. Adding an element of gamification like a leaderboard to your employee referral program will encourage participate. Read Josh Bersin’s The Gamification of Corporate Human Resources for a quick perspective on how game mechanics are influencing employee engagement.

5. Vouch for Referrals

Let’s face it, just because we’re connected to someone doesn’t mean that we’d recommend them for every job. A modern employee referral program must easily allow employees to discretely vouch for candidates referred through their networks. Creating a feedback loop reduces risks and encourages valuable collaboration. Allowing employees to vouch for their referrals also builds trust and confidence in the program by giving users control.

 6. Integration is Essential

To be truly useful and to have any chance of widespread user adoption, an employee referral program must be fully integrated with your applicant tracking system. Third party employee referral tools and spreadsheets create information silos that quickly become a problem for reporting and capturing feedback. Take Michael Krigsman’s advice from his article, Enterprise Social Business: Integration Matters, “To be useful, social technologies must help people to do their jobs, which means integrating with established enterprise systems”.

Originally Posted on newtonsoftware.com.