At HireUp, we like tracking the talent acquisition space for the latest trends, dominant chatter and any prevalent questions within the industry.

While there is a clear emphasis on the referral channels given the associated benefits, there are a couple of common questions by hiring managers around the referral program itself. e.g. What are some effective ways to engage employees and encourage referrals? When’s the best time to run a programme?

An Employee Referral Program (ERP) aims at making referrals attractive for employees through a variety of initiatives, encouraging employees to be your brand ambassador and also to bring in quality talent through their contacts. So what needs to be considered to run an effective ERP?

Here are some questions to ask:

How do I engage my audience?

Before you start an ERP, it’s important to consider where your audience, the employees, are spending their spare time. If your employees are typical among adults, they will be spending on average over 3 hours a day on their mobile phones. If you only look to provide an intranet with vacancies to be shared through work desktops, then you are not engaging the audience where they prefer to be engaged.

How long should your ERP run?

Initiatives can be ongoing for your long term goals or time bound which are usually aligned to a campaign or short term goals.

A stated referral bonus is a good example of a long term initiative whereas use of gamification led competitions with attractive prizes can be run effectively to incentivise employees for a period of time. Again feel free to mix it up as it does not have to be all or nothing.

How to design attractive programs?

Initiatives & prizes need to connect with your audience – your employees. Your employee demographic plays a big part.

For a young workforce, a time bound initiative with services as a reward can be very attractive. E.g. A sports streaming voucher as a prize during the six nations cup will sit very well with some of your employees whereas others may work hard for a 3 day golf trip if they hit their targets.

Likewise, senior employees in your workforce may seek a chance to participate in industry seminars etc.

Bottom line is that the rewards need to be tailored to the different employee segments to really make the program work.

Can I extend my ERP beyond my employees?

Although your ERP will always be primarily focused on your current employees and their network of contacts, that doesn’t mean you need to preclude some other effective sources of referrals. Every company has an alumni network. Why not put them to work to find you great talent too.

Some will refer people in because they still have an affection for the company, others may look to an incentive to push them to refer people in. Finally one last group may even look at a role that’s become available and apply for the position themselves.

The boomerang employee will on board very quickly as they already know the culture of the company and will provide an almost instant return on investment.

What’s the best way to measure success?

Measuring the effectiveness of your program is probably the most important element in this topic. This goes beyond counting how many referrals were made, number of acquisitions or even say cost of acquisition through this channel. While these are absolutely the correct KPIs to track, It’s also very important to understand what has worked and what has not worked, to adapt your ERP for best results.

Things to consider would be – Is the duration of the initiatives working or has it going a bit stale? Am I targeting the right employee segments or have new segments emerged? Are my rewards working or do I need to infuse more creativity?

The effectiveness of the program largely depends on getting the right mix of initiatives. Flexibility to change and tweak will go a long way in reaching your referral goals!

Harini Praturi