Birds of a Feather Flock Together: Adopt these Employee Referral Program Best Practices | DCR Workforce Blog

Birds of a Feather Flock Together: Adopt these Employee Referral Program Best Practices

In the current job market, attracting or retaining talent is proving to be a major challenge, requiring strategic planning efforts. Yet some businesses are able to recruit suitable candidates using employee referral programs, and finding the method not only quick and cost-effective but also highly conducive to their overall success. After all, birds of a feather tend to flock together, so if a company has an effective employee, they assume that the people they associate will likewise be successful.

How do employee referral programs work?

When you asks your current employees to suggest suitable applicants – what exactly happens and how do the benefits accrue?

  • You’re able to directly access resources from the social and professional networks of your employees.
  • They fit in better and perform better, when they come on board – and may bring in additional connections to potential recruits from similar backgrounds in terms of education and work experience.
  • It’s typical for hire quality to be very high with employee referral programs.

Adopt these employee referral program best practices

A well-planned referral program can reduce your cost-to-fill as well as time-to-hire while it increases the overall productivity of your hiring efforts. When people have a close bond with one another, they tend to collaborate better on tasks and keep attrition down. If you have a running employee referral program from which you don’t seem to be reaping any remarkable benefits, you may want to consider making some changes and taking some proactive steps to improve its performance.

Here are a few employee referral program best practices:

  1. Institute an organizational culture that’s attractive and admired as a pre-requisite to any employee referral program. Examples include benefits that are traditional or not-so-traditional, opportunities for development, fun at work and a solid retirement plan are just a few of the things about a workplace that will engage employees to lure others in their contact list to apply.
  2. Guard your program by being wary of disgruntled, disengaged employees in a workplace making a referral.
  3. Let your employees know what kind of people you are looking for and why you trust them to pick the right set of people to come into the organization, as well as how it may boost team morale and workplace productivity at the same time.
  4. Remove all confusion with regard to company policy by clearly specifying whether or not an employee can refer someone for a role that reports to them, whether they can refer family/relatives, spouses or partners’ and also what they could expect in the form of incentives for making a successful referral and when the compensation will occur (for example, after the employee passes the probationary period, etc.). Consider offering a small freebie to anyone who decides to make a referral.
  5. Offer benefits that are tangible and valuable to your workers, and also consider letting them choose between a few such as a hiring bonus, a fully paid trip for two or a donation to their favorite charity as an incentive for referring their connections (of course dependent on the type of position you’re trying to fill – see next point).
  6. Don’t pay the same amount for executive and leadership positions.
  7. Don’t take forever to make the payment once the candidate accepts the offer and comes on board. Let the employee know if you plan to pay only after the referral gets confirmed in the role or after a certain time period has passed.
  8. Make sure that your offerings are on par with the industry, and not liable to offend instead of motivate the employees to participate in the employee referral program.
  9. Recognize all those who helped identify successful hires in such way as to encourage the other employees to start putting in some efforts.
  10. Keep the referral process simple and easily manageable across the organization’s various locations, using a dedicated portal where resumes can be uploaded or job postings shared through social and professional networks quickly.
  11. Consider including successful referrals a part of your performance review process.
  12. Make sure that the whole recruitment process is moving like a well-oiled machine, rather than being a bottomless well that yields nothing up from its depth. No one appreciates referring a candidate (who may be calling them for updates) only to find that there’s no information or feedback about the status of the application.
  13. Talk to your employees to understand what they think of the program and correlate their responses with data on their level of participation in the employee referral program. If they really like it and want it to work, it should show in their participation. Take non-participation as your cue to seek feedback and see where you need to make changes or improvements.

Not every employee will be willing or interested in participating in an employee referral program. This reduces your chances of benefiting from the amazing results offered by an effective employee referral program. However, you should still put in the required efforts to make yours an unmitigated success.

What are your experiences with an employee referral program? Success? Flop? What happened?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.