HOW Talent – Talent referral programs reimagined

CLARE RYDER • 14 Aug 2020

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In this week’s HoW talent webinar, Giles was once again joined by Dave Walstow, recruitment marketing expert from Creed Comms, to explore the value of referrals as a keystone in an organisation’s talent acquisition strategy.

Creed Comms are a full-service, award-winning recruitment marketing agency that builds world-class employer brands, delivers innovative talent attraction strategies, achieves great ROI through media optimisation and creates inspiring employee comms.

How to understand what your employees want from a referral program; how to market, launch and deliver the referral scheme to achieve maximum engagement and results; and the benefits of using tech to deliver a referral strategy were all major talking points.

Giles also shared some key statistics to demonstrate the benefits of introducing a referral programme as part of the overall recruitment attraction strategy.

  • 82% of employers rated employee referrals above any other source for generating return on investment. (Career Builder)

  • The average time to hire for referrals is 29 days versus 39 days for candidates from job boards. (Social Talent)

  • Referrals are 3-4 times more likely to be hired than candidates applying directly.

  • After 2 years, retention of referred employees is 45% compared to 25% of employees recruited via other sources.

WATCH IT BACK - Talent Referral Programs Reimagined

GILES: Where do you place the value of referrals within a Talent Acquisition strategy?

DAVE: Research tells us that referrals cost less, referred employees stay longer and ultimately perform better. A referral programme is also a great way to be more creative internally and showcase your employer brand, values, and culture.

Traditionally, companies would approach referrals by asking employees to recommend people who they think would be a good fit for the organisation or be able to fill a specific vacancy. We should now be thinking about referrals in quite a different way. The people working in your organisation are your most powerful marketing asset who can help you reach as wide and diverse an audience as possible. The average person has on average 400 social connections on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other networking sites so for an employer with 1,000 employees, you potentially have access to a network of 400,000 people.

Including an employee referral program as opposed to a traditional ‘refer a friend’ scheme, will ensure you receive well qualified referrals from people who are likely to be a good cultural fit for your organisation along with higher retention rates and improved performance.

What other information can your employees share about the organisation as part of a referral program?

Encourage them to share relevant content that promotes and shares a true reflection of the employer brand. Sharing workplace stories and not just specific roles will help to promote the organisation to a wider, more diverse pool of potential candidates.

How can employees be rewarded for referring candidates?

The traditional approach of giving a monetary bonus for a successful hire who passes their probationary period could be unfair and potentially doesn’t encourage the right behaviour. Ultimately as an employee, I have no influence over if the person I refer will be hired, if they will have a positive onboarding process or if they will stay after the first three months.

It is also useful to reward employees at different stages of the referral and recruitment process. For example, a small reward for referring a candidate and an application being completed and a bigger reward if the candidate has a successful interview.

If employees recognise that they have been consulted with before a referral program is launched, if it feels fun and part of your overall employer brand then they are far more likely to buy into the concept and encourage others to do the same.

What should you consider before implementing a referral program?

Before implementing any referral program, it is important to understand how your employees want to be rewarded for referring candidates. Consider sending out a survey to your current employees to find out their preferences. Do they want to be rewarded financially or do they prefer to opt for a charitable donation? Would they like to win a car parking space for a week, or be rewarded with an extra day’s holiday?

How can technology support a referral program?

There are bespoke referral platforms on the market which include an app that employees can access at any time to share company vacancies. The jobs are pulled through automatically from the ATS and the jobs can be shared across social media and messaging platforms. If an application is subsequently made, then this is automatically linked back to the employee’s profile and they can be rewarded as needed.

What are your final top tips for a successful referral program?

1. Revisit the concept of referrals and how they are managed
2. Talk to your people, find out how what they want from a referral program
3. Make sure you have executive level support and buy in
4. Ensure you have a solid and engaging marketing plan in place ready for launch
5. Review and refresh the program on a regular basis
6. Encourage your employees to share your jobs and enjoy the rewards

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