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Introducing an employee referral programme:

Dos and Dont`s

Staff recruitment confronts considerable challenges, demographic developments and skills shortages among them. But although these challenges have been hotly discussed in both the professional literature and public media for a very long time, what do they actually mean for your company? 

 EMPLOYEE REFERRALS IN THE TOP THREE RECRUITING CHANNELS 

Traditional recruiting channels are often rather passive and no longer fit for purpose, especially when seeking to fill key or critical roles. In times when most potential candidates do not actively seek a new job, you need new techniques to attract and retain highly-qualified employees. And employee referrals are a very successful search instrument: among the top three recruitment channels, along with online job agencies and a company’s own career website, according o studies. 

DESIGNING AN EMPLOYEE REFERRAL PROGRAMME 

Although the basic idea is always the same – “employees recruit employees” – no single employee referral programme works for all. Each one needs to be adapted to company specifics. There are, nonetheless, some common “do’s and don’ts” that should be observed in order to optimize the potential of this recruiting channel. Furthermore, before conceptualising and implementing any employee referral programme, there should be in-depth consideration and discussion of the correct strategies. 

  • EARLY INVOLVEMENT OF IMPORTANT PARTIES 

Consider which parties should be involved and at which stage. In order to minimise potential disputes, both the works council and the data protection officer should be on board and integrated into the project team from the very beginning so that they can participate in brainstorming meetings. Attracting management as ambassadors is of equal importance, since they usually have access to a large and influential network and can convince their own employees to participate . 

  • A WELL THOUGHT-THROUGH COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY 

This—designed, ideally, to reach every employee—is decisive for the successful introduction of an employee referral programme and the sustainability of a high participation rate. The strategy should be delivered across as many communication channels as possible. You also need to explain clearly and convincingly the individual value-add, and how the employee referral programme works, including, alongside a step-by-step guide, transparent rules for all participants. A catchy and expressive name and branding aligned with corporate design are also of great significance.  

  • SEAMLESS CONNECTIVITY WITH APPLICANT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS 

If you opt for a digital employee referral programme the software solution should be user-friendly. Employees should not only be able to operate it intuitively, but also have fun using it, for example through gamification features. Simple navigation is crucial, and so is user-friendly management. Data should be simply prepared and simple to access and use. At a time when automated functional processes are increasingly sought after, new software should connect seamlessly to existing IT infrastructure and particularly to applicant tracking systems.

  • EMPLOYEES RECRUIT EMPLOYEES – START WITH MANY VACANCIES 

Effective communications, involvement of the right parties, and a seamless connection with existing IT & ATS infrastructure and processes should ensure a successful employee referral programme. However, if few vacancies are advertised or populated in the referral software, employee motivation can quickly evaporate: the fewer the vacancies, the fewer the potentially suitable candidates, and the weaker the inclination to refer. 

  • SELECTION OF THE RIGHT BONUS MODEL 

Bonuses are usually introduced to encourage employees to promote the employer brand and value proposition. By incentivising referrals, companies hope to motivate employees to participate continually in the recruitment process. Both material and financial bonuses are an option, but the design of the bonus amounts and the timing of payments are variable. Fundamentally, bonuses must be high enough to be attractive to the people making the referrals, though not so high that they lead to undesirable referral activity. Bonus models should also be designed so that the costs per appointment are within an acceptable range and the level of bonus is geared to the needs of the employee.  

By recognising the potential of employee referrals and taking account of these “dos and don’ts”, you will not only fill vacancies more efficiently and at significantly reduced cost. Your appeal as an employer will also be enhanced. Your employees are, after all, your best ambassadors. Start leveraging their strengths today.  

Contact us to learn more about a digital employee referral platform.