Maintaining a referral program requires focused effort. A lot of attention is given to referral program after the initial launch and then fades off. Recruiter initially are excited to receive a huge pool of applicants then reverts back to waiting for resume flow, until the next referral push.
Thus, developing a referral culture is key to developing long-term success. The norm is for employees to constantly connecting within their professional network pitching company as a great place to work. Employees at all levels of the organization become an extension of the recruiting team.
Relationships: Referrals by nature is relationship driven. The strength of the relationship between the employee and the employer determines the propensity for recommendations. The stronger the bond between the employee and the company the more likely to make recommendations. The weaker the link the less likely to invite friends for available openings.
I often find that recruiters, literally, wait for employees to submit referrals. Instead, I suggest that recruiters need to have a relationship with the employee base and to be proactively engage with department teams for contacts. The effective recruiters will approach colleagues to generate prospective applicants.
Awareness: Employee’s won’t necessarily go searching out for job vacancies on the company’s job posting site. Make it easy for employees to know the current openings. Help them identify which are the critical vacancies requiring referrals. Leverage on company-wide intranet and other communication medium to inform employees.
Recruiters can work with colleagues to educate them on the requirements of the positions. The more employees understand the requirements the better they can identify suitable referrals, rather than just sending in any resumes to the staffing team.
Recognition: Many referral programs have a cash incentive component. However, money is rarely a strong motivator for employees to make referrals.
What is important is recognizing employees for making effort to produce referrals. Not all referrals get hired. By recognizing effort will reinforce and encourage more referrals in the future.
Recruiting teams can maximize budget by hosting recognition and appreciation events. With the same (or less) amount of money used for referral bonuses the publicity generated by an event can reinforce more employees to participate.
Creating and driving a referral culture is the key for a long-term and effective referral program. It is unsustainable for a referral program to drive up referrals only when new incentives are offered. Employees must continually be involved in generating candidates leads for the organization.
Regardless of the sophistication of the company program recruiters need to take ownership to drive relationship with employees, create awareness of job requirements and recognize referral effort.