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  • Best Practices For A Successful Employee Referral Program
  • As competitiveness increases in today’s already hectic world, corporate executives often puzzle over sales, acquisition of new leads and retention of old ones. In truth, the answer to all of those is as simple as two words: referral programs.

    “Employee referral programs are the home runs of the corporate world,” said NextBee Media executive Ashish Mohole. NextBee is an industry leader in the employee referral program space.

    There are countless studies to back up the fact an engaging employee referral program can keep your current employees happy and build the recruitment bridge you need for new sales recruits.

    According to the 2011 CareerXRoads study, social media has been adopted by at least 88.5 percent of all organizations surveyed.

    Here are some survey numbers to consider:

    • 71 percent of corporations are looking to social media to increase sales referrals and also retain current staff (SelectMinds Why Optimizing Referrals is Critical Now, 2010)
    • 69 percent of organizations say they have a formal employee referral program at their organization (CareerBuilder’s Referral Madness, 2010)

    So why is the first bullet above highlighted? Simple! Because it is the most important.

    With 71 percent of corporations already using social media, two questions come quickly to mind – 1) why isn’t my company using social media as a recruiting and retention tool?; 2) what do I need to do to make my existing program better?

    Employee Referral Programs continue to out-produce every other external recruiting source. In world class firms, the performance of these programs is often double that of the average, but they often have dedicated management and a host of features few firms invest the time and resources to support. That’s why engaging a firm, such as U.S.-based industry-leading NextBee Media is so important (more on this further down).

    Your company will have to fend for itself with No. 1, but here are some ways your company can improve on No. 2:

    Create a Purpose

    By instilling a sense of ownership and pride in the program, upper management can better perpetuate the idea that employee participation will help employees in their career paths and, at the same time, help the company get to the next level.

    • Link social media & mobile efforts with the program — since the explosion of social media, you cannot have a well-performing referral program without also having a strong social media effort. This close link is required because most of the connections and the relationships that your employees now build with other professionals occur via social platforms.

    This is where companies such as Adobe, School of Rock and GiamTV turn to NextBee for help and guidance. NextBee has the expertise to guide companies – large and small – through the minefield of Employee Referral Programs.

    • Link employer branding with the program – having a strong employer brand makes it easier for your employees to approach and build relationships with other professionals. Having a strong employer brand and external image are also essential for convincing prospects to accept a referral. As a result, the two functions must work closely together to ensure that it is easy for prospects to find compelling stories and to locate information about the firm’s best practices and any best-place-to-work awards that the firm has won (Google & Sodexo).
    • Allow managers and HR to refer – because managers and HR individuals are also well-connected, it’s a mistake to prohibit them from making referrals. In cases where there is a perception of a conflict of interest, allow them to opt out of the bonus features or to donate the reward points to a specific department or, if possible, a charity.

    Give Employee Feedback

    Recognize referrers through-out the process.  This can be done in a number of ways including email thank yous, personal thank you notes, adding referrals to a social feed, assigning points for qualified referrals, etc.

    As mentioned earlier, integrate the Employee Referral Program into your overall Employee Engagement Strategy.  Develop an ROI plan, develop KPI metrics, then monitor and adjust accordingly.

    If an employee refers and doesn’t hear anything or receive any reward for 90 to 120 days, they lose interest and engagement.  Keeping people informed throughout the process and potentially rewarding small amounts to them along the way, will keep engagement levels high.

    Create supporting collateral for the employee to utilize

    Employees often don’t know how to articulate the value proposition of working at your company. Would you rather have your employees say, “It’s a great place to work”, or “I chose my company because they have the XYZ program that accelerates my career!”? Easy choice, isn’t it? That’s what a good ERP will do for your company.

    Intrinsically motivate employees

    Recognizing employees with a simple “thank you” in person or at town hall meetings will intrinsically drive employees to refer more.

    Referral programs can do wonders for a business. Employees participating in referral programs, studies show, have higher retention rates and increased employee engagement in their company, translating to increased sales and profitability for the corporate entity. But generating a successful referral program takes a lot  more than a few free toasters. That’s why engaging a firm – the right firm — such as NextBee is an important first step.


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