Employee referrals tips, ideas and Zao product updates

IHRIM: Employee Referral Program Best Practices for 2015

ihrim logoThere’s a reason why employee referrals are named the # 1 source of hire year after year. By now, you’re probably aware of the benefits provided by employee referral programs, and why they are the best source of hire. Referrals are the highest quality hires and they perform best on the job compared to all other sources. To top it off, referrals have the highest retention rate after 1 year of employment.

If referrals have always been #1, what’s changed in the employee referral program industry? You may have guessed it; social media has grown tremendously in the last decade. Since social media has revolutionized the way we live our lives, it has simultaneously influenced hiring and employee referral programs. This rise in social network activity has created new opportunities for employers to tap into employees’ online social connections for referrals.

In addition to increased activity on social media, there has been an equally large amount of growth in the use of mobile devices and 82% of companies now allow employees to use mobile devices at work. Since employees are often on the go, it’s important that they are able to access referrals at anytime.

The combined powers of social media and mobile devices have had a great impact on the way we hire, and expanded upon the network of opportunity available for referrals. These changes have brought upon a new a different use for employee referrals, which brought upon the need for enhancing traditional referral programs. Zao’s social employee referral platform helps boost referral best practices, using automation, social networks, gamification and mobile devices. A successful referral platform is created through the combination of these features, bringing all the elements together.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 ways to boost your existing employee referral program this coming 2015:

1. Automation

Automation lets you do things, week after week, which you would normally have to do manually. In employee referral programs, these can include posting jobs on social networks, and updating employees on the status of their referrals. Job sharing on social networks can often be time consuming, and in order to involve your network, it’s important to share jobs on a regular basis. If a job is shared regularly, there is a much higher chance that the posting will be seen by a bigger percentage of your network. Give your employees the ability to choose which social networks they would like to post jobs on, and allow them to pick a frequency as well.

When it comes to updating employees on the status of their referrals, this can be a very time consuming task. Employees will often send emails, or even stop you in the hall asking what happened to a certain person they referred. Many referral programs are still operating in this manner, and do not update employees on the status of their referrals. Implementing a system that automatically updates employees on their referrals is crucial to their continued engagement and participation. Zao takes the work out of referrals, by automating recurring referral tasks including auto-posting jobs and sending automatic referral status updates to employees.

2. Social Networks

Traditional referral programs don’t involve social networks, and rely simply on employees forwarding referral candidates using email. With employees being more connected than ever, there is a huge opportunity of contacts that can be reached socially.

Finding candidates on social networks can be optimized using smart matching technologies. Smart matching automatically pairs the contacts of your employees on LinkedIn and Facebook with your job descriptions, helping employees find the best matches for the job. From there, recommending a candidate is only a click away. In addition to being able to find relevant candidates, employees can also directly share jobs on social network groups, bringing you more relevant candidates. Zao has built these social network referral best practices into its platform, making it simple to engage employees

3. Gamification

Gamification is the use of game mechanics (such as points and leaderboards) to encourage engagement in employee referral programs. It’s a great tool to avoid the dreaded post-launch drop in participation that most employee referral programs face. It’s also a great way to keep employees engaged in referrals in the long run, and is designed to give points and credit at different stages in the referral process, not just when a referral is hired.

Gamification is often used to make referral programs fun. Offering points and badges for achievements in your referral program and allowing these points to be redeemed for prizes is an exciting way to switch things up. For example if someone refers 3 qualified applicants, offer a small prize in return. In addition, creating a leaderboard for your referral program and showing the top employees and the number of referrals they have made keeps people engaged as they can see their efforts being recognized. You can get as creative as you like with gamification referral contests for your employees. With Zao, employees automatically get credit for all referral actions in the platform, making it easy for you to gamify your program.

4. Mobile

Mobile recruiting is a growing trend. So why are many companies still not implementing mobile hiring, especially when it comes to employee referral programs? Since mobile capabilities often streamline the way we live, they are especially important when you want to look up information quickly and easily. For this reason, it makes sense to apply mobile concepts to your hiring strategy, and particularly your employee referral program.

According to Mashable, 19% of job seekers use mobile devices to view open positions, but 57% would like to use mobile devices to search for jobs. What this means is that if you don’t have a mobile career site with access to job pages, you’re missing out on a number of applicants who are looking for jobs from their mobile devices. In addition, 23% of searches with the word “jobs” come from mobile devices.

The first step here is to make sure that your career site is mobile optimized, and jobs can be easily viewed from mobile devices. In addition to this, why not allow employees to refer candidates on the go? Often when people are networking and meeting new people, they are not behind their computer. Allowing employees to refer using mobile devices is the key to the future of referral programs. With Zao, all referral programs are automatically mobile optimized and compatible with all devices.

5. Extending Rewards

Your employees only have a certain number of contacts. For this reason, why not open referrals up to your former business partners, vendors, and even the trusted contacts of your employees? These people can refer you great candidates as well. The problem with extending your referral program is that these external referrers don’t have the same intrinsic motivators that your employees have, such as working with a friend. People outside your direct network of employees need additional motivators to refer their friends, and that’s where extending rewards comes into play.

By extending your referral rewards to outside referrers, you’re opening up referrals to trusted contacts who aren’t necessarily your employees. CareerXroads found that 43% of companies hired a non-employee referral. In addition, Zao found that 69% more referral hires were reported when non-employees were involved and rewards were offered. When creating a referral program strategy, extending rewards is definitely an option to consider. Zao takes care of all payments to non-employees, saving you any extra accounting and tax work.

Planning out your employee referral strategy is an important part of making the program successful. Set goals for your program throughout the year, and automate any tasks that are repetitive. You will not only find better referrals, but you will notice your employee referral program is more efficient for you and your network overall. Interested in learning more about employee referral programs? Check out Zao’s free 16 Employee Referral Tip Ebook.