If you’ve been wondering if you should start your company’s employee referral program, or you’re thinking about increasing your referral payout, you may want to reconsider. There’s a better way to attract more applicants through employee referrals that doesn’t require a formal program or higher payouts, and many companies are already benefiting from it.
So, what’s this secret strategy for increasing employee referrals? Put simply, it’s a strong employment brand. Studies show that when companies have strong employment brands, their employees are more engaged and happy at work. Why? Because strong employment brands facilitate an environment where employees love their jobs. And when employees love their jobs, they naturally want to tell their peers about their employer and encourage others to join the team (without even being paid to do so!).
Sounds great, but not sure where to start? Here are a few ways you can strengthen your employment brand in order to increase employee referrals:
Great companies build great experiences, and for employees that starts with how they attract and engage their candidates. These means that no matter who applies or interviews with the company, the recruiters for these companies are attentive and responsive to each and every job candidate. They provide candidates with timely communication, offer transparency into their application status, and are completely honest with them throughout the hiring or rejection process. By doing so, they ensure that all candidates have a positive experience with the brand.
If you provide a strong candidate experience and remain transparent with your applicants, they will become more eager and excited to work for you. And when you offer a great candidate experience, you’ll be surprised to find that even candidates you don’t end up hiring may encourage others to apply. Suddenly, people who don’t even work for you are now referring their peers to your company!
Recruiters at companies with strong brands are more likely to hire candidates who are good cultural fits, which increases the chances that their employees will naturally become brand ambassadors. These recruiters ensure that the candidates they select are good cultural fits by determining whether or not their goals, values, and traits align with the organization’s. Employees are happier at work as a result, and are more likely spread the word about how much they enjoy working for the company.
You can attract more applicants who are the right cultural fits for your organization by offering insight into your employment brand on your job postings and career site. Describe your company’s core values and benefits, and share photos of the workplace. Most importantly, consider asking your star employees, from various levels of the organization, to share their stories through videos or written testimonials. Positioned as a spokesperson for the company 24/7 in print or online, these employees are more likely to do so ongoing. And when you showcase this information on your career site, job seekers who connect most with your employment brand will be more likely to apply.
Do your employees have everything they need? Are they engaged in their work? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, ask them! Fostering a culture of communication and feedback is a common practice for companies with strong employment brands, as it ensures that their employees are engaged. Consider sending out an employee survey to help you identify ways to improve your team’s work and their environment. See if they are lacking any essential resources, and determine what they want and value most.
Once the surveys are completed, analyze the responses to discover common issues and begin to identify valuable solutions. Identifying and resolving common employee issues will help you cultivate a better employment brand and boost employee satisfaction. As a result, more employees will spread the word about how much they love working for your company.
Companies with strong employment brands know that building shared experiences and broadening relationships can be extremely valuable tools. Whether your team attends tradeshows, conferences, job fairs, or volunteering events, company events are one way to help employees bond with one another and truly become a team. When this synergy exists in the workplace, employees are happier and more successful.
But great companies know that company events and outings aren’t just about strengthening the team; they are also about networking and raising brand awareness. No matter what the event is, positioning your team out in the community will allow more people to positively interact with your company and cultivate a desire to join the team.
If you have all-star employees on your team who clearly love working for you, encourage these individuals to join professional associations and networking groups. By motivating your best and happiest staff members to interact with more professionals, you can improve the reputation of both your consumer and employment brand.
When active job seekers meet these engaged and successful team members, they will become motivated to learn more about your company and apply to your positions. And even for those who aren’t actively searching for jobs, interacting with these remarkable employees and learning about where they work can keep your company top of mind if they re-enter the job market.
You don’t need to create a formal employee referral program or pay your employees larger sums of money to gain more employee referrals. In fact, doing so could guarantee that your employees refer candidates for the wrong reasons—resulting in higher turnover as well as wasted time and resources.
Instead (or at least in addition to), focus on strengthening your company’s employment brand and increasing employee engagement. Your employees will happily refer others to your company without reward as a result, and the new applicants will keep on coming. In the end, your recruitment process—as well as your team—will be transformed for the better.