Shorten Your Time-to-Fill Rates by Cultivating a Referral Culture

shorten-time-to-fill-referral-culture-log-staff-management-smxThe people who shape an organization are that organization’s strongest assets. According to results from a survey of HR professionals published in a recent report by LinkedIn, talent is the foremost item on the agenda for 83% of companies. How do you ensure that your business is attracting and retaining top talent in a shifting environment? One way to sharpen your competitive edge is by creating a referral culture.

What Motivates Employee Referrals?

Whether you’re tweaking your existing strategy or creating an employee referral program from scratch, you need to know what will best motivate your current employees to make referrals. Interestingly enough, a recent survey of in-house referrals at LinkedIn found that only 40% of respondents were primarily motivated by the cash incentive. Referrers were more likely to report being motivated by the desire to help current acquaintances find work at the company or to help LinkedIn find great candidates. This indicates that your employees are likely to be more motivated by the opportunities, values and culture of your company than they are by bonuses.

Still, 96% of respondents said that the most appropriate way to recognize their contribution was with a cash bonus. So, the reward may not have to be huge, but some type of financial incentive is generally expected when an employee makes a sound referral. Make sure employees know the bonus structure and that you pay out consistently.

How to Cultivate a Referral Culture

How do you grow your employee referral program? SmartRecruiters CEO Jerome Ternynck identifies some of the key steps.

Create a documented process.

Build off the strong foundation of your employer brand to ensure that current employees and their referrals have clear expectations throughout the process.

Reward referrals from the wider network.

The pool of passive talent is large. You won’t entice every high-quality candidate to join your organization. If somebody is referred to you, but she’s content with her current position, why not incentivize her to refer other talented people from her network?

Take advantage of social media.

Your employees are already tapped into professional networks on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. By developing your employer brand to its full potential, you’re on your way to doing the same. Specialized social recruiting tools can help you gain exposure to the talented individuals in your employees’ networks.

Keep Everybody Updated

One important practice can get overlooked too easily when it comes to referrals: open communication. That means maintaining regular contact with both the current employee and her referral throughout the hiring process.

Business News Daily notes that several HR professionals recommend that you treat referred candidates like VIPs. Urge team leaders to touch base with referrers when you decide whether or not you’ll proceed with an interview, and make sure they know your final decision. You may also want to give your reasoning to the referrer and be sure to provide the candidate with personal feedback whenever possible.

The reason for this is simple. Your employee and her referral will keep in touch after your decision, no matter the outcome. Everybody knows that a referral is not a guaranteed offer of employment, but if an employee or her referral feels like you gave them a raw deal, it could damage their relationship or your reputation as an employer. If your employees are doing some of the legwork for you, their referrals deserve a fair shot.

The benefits of recruiting new talent through an established employee referral program are substantial. You’ll hire better candidates faster, and you’ll likely retain them longer. Use these tips to start building or improving your referral program. Once you’ve gotten quality candidates through the door, make sure you’re keeping tabs on what makes today’s top talent stand out. Many old rules no longer apply in the current job market, and the ideal candidate will look different in today’s economy. For further insight on this topic, consult our ebook, 5 Updated Recruitment Rules to Help You Source Top Talent.