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Today’s Question: We all know that employee referral programs (ERPs) help employers make better hires in less time – but only when they’re working properly. How can recruiters and HR pros get the most out of their employee referral programs?

Kyle1. Culture, Communication, and Congratulations

Three things can have a major impact on getting the most from an employee referral program – two of which you can implement today.

The first is a great culture. Easier said than done, but employees are more apt to refer friends and family when they’re engaged in the work they do and have pride in their company.

The second is open communication. Communicate regularly with employees about open roles, and tell them the characteristics you are looking in a new employee. That will help them understand whom they should refer. You’d be surprised how many companies don’t talk about open roles regularly. Don’t assume everyone knows a role is open. Also, communicate to employees that refer someone. Say “Thank you,” and give them updates about their candidate when they hit milestones in the selection process, if applicable. Most just want to know if their referral is being communicated to regularly.

The third is rewarding employees for making referrals. This can be big or small, but when you reward behavior, it gets repeated. When you do this publicly, others will take notice as well.

So communicate often, reward employees, and work on your culture. Two out of the three are fairly simple and can be impacted right now.

Kyle Bruss, Talent Plus

Lynda2. Make It Easy to Use – and Make the Rewards Meaningful

Incorporate the program into an easy-to-use, simple app that lets employees share qualified resumes with HR.

Ensure that you reward employees in some significant, perhaps monetary way. Also, ensure that if a referral is hired, the new hire stays for a required amount of time prior to the referring employee earning a reward. Publicly recognize the employee who made the referral once they have earned the reward.

Finally, if people don’t seem to be using the program, publicize it! Employees will not see the incentive, and thus not participate, unless you tell them about the ERP and the rewards they could earn.

Lynda McKay, Bagnall

Tara3. Address Any Obstacles Standing in the ERP’s Way

Start by identifying any employee behaviors that hinder the ERP’s success. Then, tie incentives to improvements in these behaviors. For example, ensure that the bonus you are providing is not paid out until you have seen the behavior change or have seen significant progress toward change. It’s also important that your employees are 100 percent aware of the policy and that a bonus is not guaranteed until the behavior has changed.

This makes it so your employees are more inclined to provide you with quality recommendations, because they know the bonus will not be handed out without hard work on their end. Your current employees will also gain a stronger feeling of accomplishment, ensuring the positive behavior continues in an upward trend, brings in qualified new hires, and removes obstacles that need attention.

Tara Jones, Effex Management Solutions

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