Opinion: Amp-up engagement in your referral program

by External15 Jan 2014
When you want to hire the best employees, you may latch on to employee referrals, which are touted as the No. 1 source of hire. However, tools like employee referral programs typically can’t maintain ample participation. Ziv Elliraz unveils some pointers on keeping your referral program engaging.

Here’s a Catch-22 for you: When you want to hire the best employees, you may latch on to employee referrals, which are touted as the No. 1 source of hire. However, tools like employee referral programs typically can’t maintain ample participation. This means your employees aren’t as engaged as they could be, especially for an extended period of time -- and your referrals suffer as a result.
So, how do you solve a problem like employee engagement when members of your network are the ones you need to boost your hiring?
It comes down to this: Forget forcing employee referral programs on your workers. Forget boring slideshows and PowerPoints that won’t ever stick. Forget taking the easy way out. What you need is a complete overhaul of your employee referral program if you want to boost engagement and gain those quality leads you’ve been looking for.
So how will you do it? Check out these suggestions:  
Implement gamification
Did you know 70 percent of the top 2,000 public companies in the world will have at least one gamified application by 2014. Essentially, gamification uses the thinking, learnings, and mechanics from games to increase engagement in non-game systems. In addition, gamification can take the form of many shapes, such as leaderboards or a points structure in order to engage employees.
Why this boosts engagement: If your employees believe they are playing a “game” while they refer candidates, it will seem more like a fun activity than a job duty. Plus, employee referral program gamification can involve prizes, such as rewards for quality leads or a spot in a leaderboard, which gives them a reason to participate beyond the obvious -- helping your organization.
Look into smart matching
Smart matching involves searching for candidates in your ATS or recruiting platform using specific criteria. Here’s an example: You wanted a candidate with very specific qualifications, such as someone in the food and beverage industry with 10 years of experience in Melbourne. Since it can be tough to search for these candidates manually, smart matching automatically pulls these prospects, both active and passive, through specialized algorithms.
Why this boosts engagement: Your employees may not have the time to scour through their social networking platforms or contact list in order to find the gold. Smart matching is an automated process that does the work for them, effectively shortening the employee referral process.
Go mobile
A study from McCrindle Research found 54% of Australians spend at least some time working remotely. So, more than likely, you’ve got some remote workers on your hands. However, an employee referral program doesn’t have to stay in-house. It can still be used by remote workers if you make a few tweaks in order to accommodate them.
Why this boosts engagement: Not being in the office but staying involved in an employee referral program can be hard. Creating a mobile-friendly career site or mobile portal that is quickly accessible through different devices makes it easy for remote workers to participate, even if they aren’t physically in the office.
Extend your program
While the majority of hires may be sourced from within, your internal network may not be big enough to give you want you need. Therefore, the referral process shouldn’t be limited to your internal network. Your business partners, vendors, or old colleagues can also participate in the referral process. Extending your program to them may not be the norm, but it can add value or a different set of eyes to your referral program, especially if you’re looking to kick things up a notch.  
Why this boosts engagement: The information in the minds of your external network can be an invaluable resource. Giving them an easy way to communicate the value of a potential hire is a great way to engage them and show you value their input. Plus, most people are more than willing to help a contact out. Incentives like rewards, which should still be given, are just the icing on the cake.
Boosting engagement in your employee referral program doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. By understanding the needs of your network, as well as what will engage them in the program, you’ll be able to maintain an active referral strategy that can meet your needs for the long-run.
What do you think? What are some other ways to boost engagement in your employee referral program?
About the author
Ziv Eliraz is the Founder and CEO of Zao, social employee referral management platform. Connect with Ziv and Zao on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


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