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Employee Engagement is the Key to Employee Referral Program Success

Posted by Michael Bachman on Jan 23, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Developing an employee referral program (ERP) is a go-to recruitment strategy for a hiring team looking to make strong long-term hires in a challenging talent marketplace. What isn’t easy however, is building a culture of employee engagement which fully empowers every individual within the organization to begin contributing at this deeper level. So, before you try to launch the next big ERP campaign, some in-house clean up needs to be performed first.


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Starting an employee referral program is hard, but worth it. Not 

only are they the most productive source for diversity hires, but they stay longer, are a better fit, and and cost less. divdier1.png

Honest Assessment

According to a study performed by Glassdoor, less than 49% of employees would actively recommend their current employer to a friend. This means that regardless of how high you may believe employee morale is, there’s nearly a 50% chance that your organization may fall within the “do not recommend” group. Rather than risk making the potentially disastrous assumption that all is well, sit down with your team and try to identify any leaks in the hull. This can be done via round tables or anonymous surveys. It is only by identifying these issues and fixing them, that you will be able to build positive energy with current employees.

Along the same lines of identifying problematic processes, sometimes through an analysis you may identify problematic individuals. Admitting when a bad hire has been made, or a premature promotion given, can be extremely awkward for all those involved. Any quantity of awkwardness though, can not outweigh the destructive influence of letting poor managers continue. By weeding out these

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negative influences, a new cultural identity and congruence will be felt.

Empower and Respect

At the base of any good relationship is a sense of mutual respect. Employees who do not feel respected are more likely to be a retention risk themselves, and even less likely to recommend their current employer. Once a foundation of trust is built, you can begin to empower your current employees with the skills of becoming brand ambassadors. This has great downstream effects, as currently only 26% of employees feel that their employer listens and responds well to them, but by being able to influence future hires their voice is being heard.

Another aspect of respect and engagement comes in taking the time to understand your current employees wants and needs. This means, when engaging employees about employee referral program incentives, the carrot on the end of the stick has to be appealing. That carrot can take many forms, cash, time off, material gifts, plus the bonus of being able to select your own coworkers. The key is to take the time to figure this out.

The Referral Snowball

Employees who work under highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to consider themselves “engaged.” This is why the first stage of identifying any problematic managers, who may not be truly engaged, can be a crucial part of the equation. Many employees look to their leadership to show enthusiasm and commitment before they do, and this is especially true for an employee referral program. Once the buzz is created, and success stories shared, the ERP will begin to gain traction and overtime become a tool of deeper employee engagement.

According to the Workplace Research Foundation, investing an additional 10% in employee engagement can annually increase profits by $2,400 per employee.  

Beyond the basic merits of having a functioning employee referral program, and the cost savings these quality hires create, investing in employee engagement has proven to be a good business practice. According to a study performed by the Workplace Research Foundation, investing an additional 10% in employee engagement can annually increase profits by $2,400 per employee.

These are cost savings and additional profits which can then be reinvested into your talent acquisition team, allowing them to perform at a higher capacity, and continue to create a culture of engagement.

Conclusively, developing a highly engaged workforce is more than a means to an end, but rather the key to the total success of your employee referral program. There are many tools available that are allowing employers to engage at a deeper level with their current employees, and directly access their networks. While dedicating time and resources may seem like a large risk at first, the comprehensive benefits are well worth it. If you still have doubts on how a well-developed employee referral program built on employee engagement will change your organization, check out this article.

Topics: employee referral program, employee engagement

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