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The Top 3 Ways Companies Leverage Referrals Today

Posted by Michael Bachman on Sep 19, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Human resources and recruiting professionals have been pushed to the brink to develop strategies which simultaneously improve employer brand, streamline recruiting and onboarding, all while on a shoestring budget. Amidst this daunting challenge one glowing solution has arisen, employee referrals. After all, what do you do when you have limited HR staff and resources? Make everyone in the organization a recruiter! Not to mention the potential offset of recruiting costs that happens when you make quick effective hires. With this in mind, we began to wonder who in the marketplace is doing this better than others.

After looking, we hit upon three companies who are absolutely nailing it when it comes to supporting their referral programs with technology, creativity, and culture.


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Technology Masters - Booking.com

Booking.com is one of the leading international travel companies in the market. With an international presence, some unique hiring challenges arise, especially when it relates to customer service. Logically, serving the international community, they need bilingual customer service personnel to support the plethora of regions they serve. The need to tap bilingual talent communities (which depending on the language is a very small niche) is one of the reasons why they turned heavily to referral hiring strategies. In fact, in 2015, an astounding 41% of customer service reps were hired via referral. They kicked off this killer strategy with providing their employees with leading referral capture technology. First, they optimized their hiring process to be as mobile friendly as possible. Then, they provided all their employees with shareable links that tracked and credited that individual for the click-throughs they received. By simply utilizing the technology available, they made referrals easy for their employees and applicants alike, creating a big yield for the company.

Creativity Kings:  GoDaddy.com

GoDaddy.com is the perfect example of a company that has found the sweet spot of sourcing employee referrals, without the need of huge bonuses. In 2016, they averaged around 33% of their hires via referrals. This is impressive considering they lowered their bonus from $3000 in 2014 to $1000 in 2016. The big question being, how’d they do it? The fact is, they turned some of that marketing know-how inward, threw away that tired old poster, and started an interactive internal marketing campaign. For example, when they needed new coders, they didn’t just make a flat email blast about the position. Instead, they created buzz with a fully coded poster that, when decoded, had a special message for coders to share with others. This is but one example of the creative solutions this team has cooked up. It just goes to show that large bonuses without solid internal marketing aren’t worth much of anything. 

Culture Cultivators: Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Enterprise Rent-A-Car is another company that can boast the solid figure of nearly a third of employees being hired via referrals. They don’t do it through big referral bonuses but rather big culture. They have injected their organization from top to bottom with the value of referrals to their overall  business through a little healthy competition. Regions compete with each other to see who can yield the most referrals and the biggest payouts. They further support this referral culture by partnering it with one of the strongest promote from within strategies out there. By doing this, they have effectively overcome the applicant fear of “starting from the bottom” with their employees being the largest advocates and success stories. In the end, engaged employees are always the best source of finding top talent.

Boiled down, what has separated these three companies from their competitors when evaluating employee referral programs is their ability to stay ahead of the curve. As the employment markets change, and new generations of employees emerge, the market is becoming a place of stay relevant or die trying. Hopefully these few examples have gotten the creativity flowing on how you can optimize your employee referral program for success.

Topics: referral programs, HR

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