How to Get Your Employees to Recommend Their Great Connections
If done correctly, employee referrals can drastically change your business.
The secret to finding valuable, high performance employees is to seek out your current valuable, high performance employees and attempt to pull from their network. Chances are the talent within your organization is connected to other great talent – whether from a mutual professional organization, personal friendship, or even a university alumnus. Of course, getting these employees to recommend their like-minded friends is easier said than done. In order for your employees to be encouraged to refer their network, they need to feel a significant level of trust and respect from you and your company.
Employee referrals are consistently an organization’s top source of hires; in 2016 alone, employee referrals delivered more than 30% of all hires and 45% of internal hires. So how can you leverage your current talent base to find quality talent? Try a few of these tips.
Be proactive and consistent with encouraging employee referrals
You might assume that if employees know there’s an available position at their company, they’ll feel compelled to recommend someone. Just like you have a lot on your mind, so do they – and filling a role in your company is likely not one of them. All the same, circulating around a job description is not a sufficient way to communicate the positions that are available.
To most effectively communicate your organization’s available positions, be proactive. Mention the positions in team meetings, on company message boards, and in company-wide emails to keep it continuously top-of-mind for your employees. And rather than depending on a job description, include some personality traits that would make a good candidate or highlight specific experience that is required.
Communicate and highlight the expectations of your employee’s recruitment efforts
Your employees should serve as your company ambassadors, helping to communicate the organization’s needs to their respective networks. The problem is, they won’t feel compelled to do so unless you ask! And when you ask, be specific. Employees might be hesitant to put their reputation on the line by recommending someone, both in their relationship with the prospect as well as the relationship with their employer. It can feel risky to recommend a friend, especially if it doesn’t work out.
That is, unless you as upper management take the time to explain to your employees that you trust their opinions, encourage their suggestions, but won’t hold it against them should a referral not work out. And of course, if there is an incentive attached to a referral, employees might be less likely to second-guess themselves.
The right referral programs will sustain recruiting efforts
Simply creating a standard referral program and posting it on your website is not going to provide the results you want. Rather, consider (or even ask!) what will encourage your employees to dig deep into their networks for the right incentive – and it doesn’t always have to be of monetary value. Additional paid-time-off, a “work from home” pass, and even an all-expenses paid vacation might be the encouragement your employees need to go the extra mile.
While every employee is driven by something different, you as the leader have an idea of what type of personalities your team is comprised of. Make the incentives specific to them, and communicate the program often. And if you don’t see the results you expected from your employee referral program, have the courage to practice trial-and-error until you do.
Employee referral programs flourish within an organization that’s a great place to work
Though communication and incentive programs can effectively encourage employee referrals, what will ultimately be the driving force for employee recruitment is creating a company culture that makes it a great place to work, where employees feel as if they are advancing in their career and feel valued. If current employees are happy in their roles and stand behind your organization’s mission, they will be working for you to find new team members that can drive the company towards continued success.
The most effective way to encourage employees to participate in your employee referral program is to have a company that is attractive to both internal employees and external observers. Employees will want to bring their friends and colleagues to a company where they know they will want to stay, and thrive, for years to come.
Once an employee refers a friend, it’s your turn to do the recruiting
Your employees feel great about the place they work and have encouraged their friend to join in on the fun. Problem solved, right? Not necessarily. Just because the referral comes from an employee doesn’t mean the candidate is the best fit for the position. There are pros and cons for employee referrals, as there are now two people who are relying on your decision. Your job now as a manager is to follow the same recruiting process as with any other candidate: review their resume or application, conduct interviews, and vet their background and experience. While a recommendation from a great employee can go a long way, it’s still best for you to personally connect with and evaluate any candidate, regardless of how they came to your attention.
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