Employee Referral Programs: 8 Key Lessons from 2014

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TargetShortages in key skill domains are emerging as the biggest obstacles to business growth in 2015, as all organizations vie for talent in the same limited candidate pools. “Innovation” is becoming the new mantra in hiring as organizations go all out to be the first to gain access to and hire highly sought after talent. Employee referral programs have proved to be very successful in these endeavors, which is why more and more organizations are looking to expand their referral programs in the coming year. 

The challenges for recruitment and referral programs change each year as technology evolves and industries change. While technology has simplified some of the earlier recruitment challenges faced by organizations, it has brought about its own share of new challenges as well. Employee referral programs have also evolved over time to meet the needs in the external environment.

Responsive organizations should create a checklist of successful employee referral tips to be used in 2015 so that their referral programs continue to remain relevant and aligned with the hiring needs of the organization.

Here Are Some Key Points to Consider in 2015:

  • Technology is now integral to the success of employee referral programs. Automated, fully integrated employee referral platforms have the potential to increase the effectiveness of referral programs by removing manual labor and making the whole process more transparent. Early adopters of technology in the employee referral process have seen their referral programs grow by leaps and bounds, compared to their competitors.
  • “Mobile” is the new buzzword, and it will be an important aspect of referral strategies in 2015. Anything that is not optimized for mobile has little chances of success, as more and more people turn to smartphones to conduct both personal and professional business. A mobile-optimized employee referral program is likely to see many more employees participating than a non-mobile optimized employee referral program.
  • An employee referral program should not be limited by geographical boundaries. A global employee referral program can help an organization recruit the best talent from across the world in the most cost effective way and help solve hiring needs on a global scale.
  • Employee referral programs can be much more effective when extended beyond current employees. If the process includes ex-employees, vendors, clients, and even employee connections, the referral base will expand, making the employee referral program immeasurably more productive.
  • Gamification is going to be the big differentiator in 2015 as organizations that include gaming elements in their referral programs will see more employee involvement and participation than organizations with simple rewards and recognition mechanisms.
  • Organizations with proactive social media branding strategies will see more success in their referral efforts. By encouraging employees to share updates posted on the company site, employers can build a great employer brand among their key target audience at virtually no cost. A good employer brand makes it much easier to sell the organization to prospective candidates and also helps to draw good candidates to apply proactively to the organization, making recruiting much easier in the long run.
  • Employee referral programs are likely to become as much about employee participation as they are about candidate experience. Ensuring a good experience for referral candidates will be very important for 2015, as bad candidate experiences can bring down the popularity of the referral program, which lowers employee participation. A positive candidate experience, on the other hand, can help draw more referrals by assuring employees that their referrals are valued by the organization.
  • The best candidates are referred by existing top performers in the organization. Proactively soliciting referrals from top performers and employees with niche skills is one of the most important referral best practices to carry forward into 2015.

What have you learned about employee referrals from the year 2014? 

By Priyanka Prabhu