the employee referral process

referral visibility

We recently released our findings based on a survey with 100 employees, which investigates the current landscape and shortcomings of employee referrals: “Rewarding Referrals: Strategies & Insights to Increase Employee Participation & Longevity”. One of our key findings was the necessity to include reward systems into your referral strategy in order to successfully increase referred hires from an industry average of under 10% to over 30%.

the referral process

Previously, we wrote about the types of rewards that can be used when providing bonuses for employee referrals. We found that while money is effective, there are many other forms that increase participation, such as time-off, personal development and experiential rewards. However, choosing the right type of reward isn’t the only factor that needs to be considered. When and how to reward referrals is equally important. Therefore, a clear, well-defined employee referral process that includes game mechanics, is what takes referrals from a passive benefit for recruitment teams to an active source of hard-to-reach candidates. In this blog, we will explore some of the dos and don’ts of the referral process.

when to reward referrals

Through our survey, we found that 34% of companies only offer rewards for referrals upon a hire being made with a further 65% once a referred candidate has passed their probation period. Only 1% of those surveyed said that their company rewards earlier in the application process. To put this into context, when considering hiring timelines (as seen below), it could take up to one year before employees are recognised for making a referral. In addition, since a majority of candidates will not pass the interview stage, most employees who have referred someone from their network will see no recognition for their efforts.

referral bonus timeline

a lack of transparency

Worse yet, due to the inability to easily track the status of their referred candidates in the hiring process, employees are left in the dark on the progress of their referrals. This is even more damaging, when considering that a number of employees will refer someone and never receive a reward, creating mistrust in not only referrals but also the company they work for. In fact, our survey shows that 83% of employees are unable to track the progress of referred candidates. This means that for most employees, their experience with referrals will be a negative one.

gamification & reward systems

Looking at game mechanics as an indication for how likely employees are to participate, it’s clear that instantaneous rewarding is a key factor to success. If the employee performs a positive action, in this case an introduction to a candidate, or the very first step of a referral, they need to be immediately rewarded. Here, microrewards are powerful, and when correctly used, result in employees continuously referring. It’s important to break down the application process and to incorporate gamification into the various stages of referrals.

For example, successful forms of rewards for when a referral is made could be raffle tickets, which result in a prize at the end of the month. The more referrals an employee makes, the more raffle tickets they earn, increasing their chances of winning. When a referred candidate moves onto the interviewing stage, another micro-prize could be offered. Even something as simple as a free lunch can be highly motivational. This lets you use gamification to experience much higher returns on your referrals.

a tailored referral process 

But do your employees prefer raffle tickets or a points-based system? Are they fans of leaderboards or do they dislike competition? Much like what type of reward to choose, the only way to know how to formulate your process is to ask your employees. At Real Links, the first step to creating our clients’ referral strategies is to hold focus groups with their employees. We rely on their feedback to create a referral process that increases participation and longevity. We then setup the gamification elements of our platform based on these results, ensuring that referrals are a key recruitment component in our clients’ organisations.

Interested in learning more about how you can transform referrals into a key source of hires? Download our whitepaper now.

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