5 reasons employee referrals will be critical to recovery post COVID-19

Employee Referral for Economic Recovery

We’re in the midst of an unprecedented time in global history.  Every country has reacted differently to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting impact on local economies and the global landscape is yet to be fully understood. 

In the shadow of global economic turmoil modern businesses are once again faced with the challenge of streamlining costs; relying more heavily than ever before on technology to run their business and of course recruitment freezes are widespread across a large number of industries (though as ever some industries continue to succeed and even thrive on the back of this situation). 

Employee referrals as a part of a business’ talent acquisition strategy has always been a cost effective and impactful tactic for recruiting high quality candidates with higher engagement and lower attrition rates. 

According to a study run in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis: ‘Employee referral schemes are the best talent acquisition strategy during economic uncertainty’ 

When businesses are attempting to reduce costs and improve efficiency, from a recruitment perspective employee referral when done well is a quicker and cheaper alternative to other recruitment methods.  This makes it an important part of business recovery as we all take the first steps towards some sort of normality, BAU and future growth. 

In this context we’re talking about fully automated employee referral platforms that import all employee’s social connections from a variety of platforms.  Using gamification and competition to engage employees. Implementing micro rewards to keep them active throughout the recruitment process and two way communication so TA teams can proactively suggest referral candidates, as well as employees putting candidates forward.

5 ways effective employee referral will help support business recovery

1.  Reducing the cost of recruitment  
Employee referral is one of the most cost effective recruitment methods.  Especially when a lot of businesses find that large monetary rewards aren’t as motivating for employees as smaller, incremental less expensive rewards.  For example, we’ve seen much higher engagement with referral through £50-£250 Amazon vouchers, distributed at different stages of the candidate journey than a £5000 reward for a hire at the end of the process.  It also allows you to avoid hefty agency fees and streamline your recruitment budget which will be a critical part of keeping your business lean and prepared for recovery.

2. Keeping talent acquisition and employees engaged and connected
Employee engagement has been a significant challenge for most organisations during COVID-19.  Maintaining a high quality talent pipeline and keeping employees connected with each other, as well as talent acquisition teams connected to the business can be enabled through the use of automated employee referral systems; internal competitions and social sharing. 

3. Fundamental shift to online 
With enforced home working, businesses who perhaps hadn’t implemented flexible and remote working practices have been forced to.  Relying on technology to communicate and get things done has rapidly become the new norm.  It’s likely that investing in new technology like automated employee referral will now be a lot more effective than pre-COVID as reliance on digital technology is far more widespread and accepted by employers and employees alike.

4. Talent overflow as a result of furlough and redundancy 
There’s no two ways about it, there’s going to be a significant spike in unemployment as life begins to return to normal.  This will mean a huge influx of talent into the market place at the same time.  According to the CIPD, for many organisations placing staff on furlough redundancy is likely to be a very real consideration; if not in the immediate term, then potentially whilst staff are on furlough or when the furlough scheme comes to an end on 30 June 2020.  Beyond furlough this will mean a higher volume of applicants for every role advertised, far more time consuming for TA teams.  Using employee referral may reduce the volume and increase the quality of applications.

5. High levels of competition for great talent
If you’re fortunate enough to operate in one of the few sectors that will either thrive or be relatively unaffected by Coronavirus, competition for great talent in those sectors will remain high, if not increase as demand for the product or service continues to grow.  Within your market place, it’s likely you’ve always faced a competitive hiring environment, but if demand for those skills spikes, adding employee referral to your recruitment armoury will set you apart from the competition, giving you access to a totally unique talent pool. 

If you think automated employee referral will help support your business with recovery, why not book a Real Links demo today and find out more.  We also offer low cost pilot schemes for up to 100 employees if you’d like to try before you commit.

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.

what are the best employee referral bonuses?

We recently surveyed 100 employees to better understand the current landscape and shortcomings of referrals. Our survey base spanned multiple industries, geographic locations and job roles, with varying levels of seniority. We have now released the findings in a free whitepaper, “Rewarding Referrals: Strategies & Insights to Increase Employee Participation & Longevity”. One of the key focus areas of the whitepaper was to understand what the best employee referral bonuses are to increase participation in referrals over the long term.

the best employee referral bonuses

We’ve found that the biggest obstacle to successful referrals is participation and longevity through our past experiences working with clients. For this reason, it’s vital that a well-thought-out strategy is in place that includes reward systems. While most companies today, 88% according to our survey, opt to only offer cash bonuses upon hire or passing probation, our findings show that there are multiple other forms of recognition that are motivating, and often at a lower cost. These can range from raffles to beer and pizza parties to charity donations. However, according to those surveyed, the three best employee referral bonuses for increasing employee participation are time-off, personal development and experiences.

In this blog, we will be exploring these three types of rewards that can transform referrals into a key source of hires by increasing employee engagement:

time-off

While it’s true that even in our study money was the greatest motivator, time-off came second at 50%. Studies show that people who value time over money are happier.  People today have heavy workloads and busy personal lives. More and more people are reporting that time has now become a scarce commodity.

This speaks volumes for the potential in rewarding time-off for referrals. It’s not only a way to recognise employees for their efforts in sourcing candidates for your company, but it could also increase overall satisfaction rates, creating engaged employees. While employees will greatly appreciate a day-off for making referrals, it will also give them the rest they desperately need. The effects of employee engagement on productivity are well documented, with reports that highly engaged employees increase profitability by 21%.

Additionally, in the majority of cases it’s more cost-effective than a cash bonus, when considering that typical monetary referral bonuses tend to sit around the $500 – $1000 range, more than a day of annual leave for most employees.

personal development

Career development has become a key focus for people today. This is supported by our findings, which show that personal development ranks as the third most motivational award. However, employees today are less and less focused on a career within a certain company. People are job hopping more than ever before and this trend is expected to continue. Therefore, acquiring the skills they need to successfully make lateral moves, internal and external, make personal development one of the best employee referral bonuses.

Similarly, thanks to continual developments in technology, core skills constantly need to change. People today feel that their skills are going to date very easily, and in the majority of cases, they’re not wrong. This makes rewarding personal development, be that budget or courses, an extremely desirable, and therefore motivating, form of rewarding.

rewarding experiences

Trips, helicopter rides, scuba diving lessons, the list is endless when it comes to experiential rewards. The reason they can be one of the best employee referral bonuses is because experiences are far more memorable than money. People rarely remember what they spent their referral bonuses on. While employees appreciate money, the appreciation is fleeting. They also expect it, as most companies today provide referral cash bonuses. Experiences, on the other hand, are something people may remember and appreciate for the rest of their lives.

What’s even more powerful with these types of rewards, is that the positive memories gained from these experiences are associated with your company. This is not only extremely motivational, but also helps in retaining employees. Additionally, with a proper advocacy plan in place, experiential rewards can help your employer branding efforts. Everyone today is an influencer. A simple Instagram post from one of your employees with your company tagged in it about an experience you provided them is an endorsement like none other. This is one of the many ways that referrals can play a vital role in your employee advocacy strategy.

so what should I use to reward referrals? 

The options may seem endless. The truth is there’s a lot of different rewards that are effective, and unfortunately most companies’ rewards strategies are based on assumptions. This is one of the key reasons that referral schemes fail. For example, we recently hosted a focus group at a major recruitment consultancy we work with. Our assumption was that the competitive aspects of our platform’s gamification features would be well received. After all, recruiters thrive in and are used to a competitive environment. However, the opposite turned out to be true. They responded negatively to implementing yet another leaderboard. They had enough competition in the workplace. On the other hand, when we held a similar focus group for nurses, we were surprised by how excited they were at the prospect of competition. It was culturally unusual for them and therefore enticing.

The reality is that until you speak to your employees, everything around what, how and when to reward referrals is an assumption and a risk you can’t afford to take. The best policy here is to tailor your rewarding strategy to what your employees find desirable. The only way to truly understand what would motivate your employees to participate in referrals is to ask them directly. In our experience focus groups are an excellent method to understand how to tailor your referral strategy to fit your employees. That’s why they’re one of the first steps we take when working with clients. The findings from these focus groups then go on to dictate how we setup our platform, gamification and process.

While understanding what the best employee referral bonuses are is important, the entire rewarding process is equally paramount to success. When should you reward your employees for referrals (when a candidate starts inteviewing, upon hire, upon passing probation, etc.)? How do you use referrals to increase your recruitment pipeline? You can find the answers to all these questions and more in our free whitepaper, which will help you establish a referral strategy that increases participation and longevity. Read it today.

The Benefits of Employee Referrals

The Benefits of Employee Referrals

11th September 2019

Employee referrals are a recruitment channel with a number of benefits such as boasting an extremely high conversion rate, where only 7% of applications come in through referrals yet they’re responsible for 40% of all hires. For employees, referral programs often feature appealing bonuses such as time off, cash, physical prizes and much more. Similarly, the secret to success when it comes to candidates finding their ideal, next position often lies within their professional networks. Employee referral programs, when handled correctly, create a best-case scenario for all stakeholders: employers, employees and applicants. 

Benefits for Employers

A referral program is a great way to source pre-qualified applicants, passive talent and even poach candidates from your competitors. It’s simple really, the people who you trust to produce results in your company have a vast network of likeminded individuals, who are more likely to be a cultural fit and get the job done. They also on average carry a 39% higher employee retention rate than candidates sourced through agencies and other recruitment tactics.  

A solid employee referral program is also more cost and time efficient than other forms of recruitment. From a financial perspective, recruitment agencies are known to be extremely expensive. Thanks to aggressive commission schemes, they often care less about matching the ideal candidate with the role than they do about fulfilling their quotas and generating revenue. On the other hand, internal recruiters spend a significant amount of time searching for candidates, qualifying them and setting up conversations. For hard to fill roles, these considerations can be extremely difficult challenges to overcome.

Finally, assuming your employees are appropriately incentivised to refer candidates, the success of your employee referral program can speak volumes for the rate of satisfaction your employees experience in the workplace. After all, an employee that cherishes their position and company is much more likely to recommend their friends and the people they trust, if they’re happy with where they work. They’re also more motivated to recommend people they believe will truly make a change at your organisation and satisfy your growth targets as they truly care about what’s best for your company. 

Benefits for Employees

While most employers have financial incentives in place when it comes to referrals, they also opt for other bonuses ranging from free travel to prizes such as bikes, gadgets and much more. On top of this, recognition in company communication channels as well as from supervisors are great motivators that push employees to become active in an employee referral program. However, there’s also the recognition within their personal networks, such as their social media channels, and the satisfaction of knowing that they helped someone close to them progress in their career. 

Successful and happy employees have your company’s goals in mind and are looking for solutions to hit their personal and professional goals. For example, a software engineer may have a daunting roadmap in front of them, which an additional, productive team member would help them achieve. Finally, the prospect of having an active hand at choosing their colleagues, and working alongside people they like and respect, is very motivational. 

Benefits for Candidates

Being referred for a position by someone who already works at a company often grants job seekers the coveted status of a fast track candidate by getting their CV in front of the right people at the right time. Rather than submitting their CV to hundreds of companies and filling out tedious, often painstakingly long application forms, their own networks can be a great first step to finding their next position. Or, better yet, perhaps one of your employees will reach out to them, whether they’re actively looking for the next step in their career or not, with a recommendation for the position of their dreams. 

Employee referral programs are one of the strongest forms of sourcing talent that focuses on quality. They feature multiple benefits for all stakeholders and have an active hand in creating a tangible, positive company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about employee referrals, Real Links’ platform automates the entire employee referral program through an intuitive matching system that promises to reduce the time spent and costs of recruitment.

Get in touch with us now.

Why should I improve my employee referral scheme now..?

Why should I improve my employee referral scheme now..?

15th August 2018

Successful employee referral schemes are a powerful recruiting tool for businesses – they provide significant cost savings and help companies to make more productive hires who stay long term. The problem is that increasing referrals still tends to fall quite low down on the priority list for companies.

Don’t just take our word for it though, let’s have a look at some of the key stats…

9 Key Statistics

1. Highest ROI

82% of employers rated employee referrals above all other sources for generating the best return on investment (ROI)

2. Better quality hires

88% of employers said that referrals are the #1 best source for above-average applicants

3. More likely to be hired

Employee referrals are 3-4x more likely to be hired than non-referral candidates

4. Better retention rates

Employee referral candidates have an average retention rate of 46%, compared to the 33% retention rates of organisations that only use career sites

5. More affordable

 Hiring through employee referrals saves companies at least £2,270 per hire

6. More likely to accept the job

Referred candidates are more likely to accept the job

7. Reduce time to hire

Employee referral candidates are 55% faster to hire, compared with employees hired through other channels

8. Good for diversity hires

Employee referrals are the #1 most productive source of diversity hires

9. Attract passive candidates

Employee referral schemes are more likely to attract passive candidates than other recruitment channels

These are just some of the key stats which show how running a successful referral scheme can be transformative for companies.

If you’re interested in implementing a referral scheme or improving your existing one, Real Links’ employee referral platform can help!

If you’re looking to learn more, feel free to get in touch by emailing sales@reallinks.io. We’re always happy to chat!