What Makes an Award-Worthy Employee Referral Programme?

Employee referrals can cut cost to hire, reduce time to hire, boost workforce quality and reinforce loyalty—just ask our #IHRA18 finalists! Our category partner Talentry finds out more…

On November 28, at the In-house Recruitment Awards in London, one of six finalists will receive the 2018 Employee Referral Program (ERP) award, partnered by Talentry.

Picking this year’s winner won’t be easy. All six finalists boast outstanding ERPs. And their diversity demonstrates that a successful programme can take many different forms: the line-up includes a fostering agency, an insurer, and both business and IT consultants.

While one size clearly does not fit all, the benefits achieved have been remarkably consistent. Consider, for example:

  • The 17-fold increase in successful referral hires at BJSS after the consultancy’s current ERP was launched in 2017.
  • How employee referrals now account for up to 40% of all new hires at Assurant.
  • The dramatic reduction in attrition rates (from just below 30% in 2017 to 0% today) at Slalom
  • The £300K reduction in agency costs at Grant Thornton since 2017.

All six finalists also report significantly higher levels of overall employee engagement, along with such KPIs as lower cost per hire, faster time to hire and better applicant quality. Cases in point:

  • Nexus Fostering has lowered staff churn and found more dedicated carers since launching its Introduce Friends ERP.
  • AND Digital reports that its referral hires have been stand-out performers.

In fact, the consistency of our finalists’ experiences and learnings suggest some key “rules of engagement” for any company contemplating an ERP.

Plan ahead and be inclusive

All the finalists stress the importance to successful execution of forward planning, especially for a global programme. Initially nervous Slalom employees had to be reassured that all referrals are potentially beneficial, for instance. And all report that inclusiveness has been critical to successful employee engagement.

At the accountancy firm Grant Thornton there is no such thing as a “bad” referral: even unsuccessful referrals are rewarded.

While at BJSS failed referrals are still eligible to enter a draw for a monthly Amazon voucher, worth £50.

What’s more, rewards don’t need to be monetary. Nexus Fostering employees derive satisfaction from seeing like-minded friends to join the business.

AND Digital focuses its ERP on roles that are most difficult to fill or have the highest volume of vacancies.

Communicate and be transparent

All our finalists emphasise the primacy of transparency and good internal communications. BJSS, whose website videos show what it’s like to work for the company and which fast tracks the most promising referrals, says you can count the numbers of referred employees who left in the past 18 months “on the fingers of one hand”.

Most finalists not only target newcomers with introductory emails, but also keep repeating the message. AND Digital continuously promotes the referral programme via campaigns and conceptions, to encourage employees to support and add value to organisational growth strategies.

Assurant’s employees receive points to go towards a cash reward as well as micro incentives (e.g. free meal or vouchers) for sharing vacancies on their social media or professional network profiles. If someone applies, has an interview or is ultimately hired, the points increase and the referrer is also entitled to their referral fee.

And Slalom keeps employees fully informed about the status of their referrals and why they did/didn’t work out.

Nor does everyone centralise their ERP: at Slalom, for instance, each individual office decides its own particular recruitment reward scheme.

For all our finalists, however, the buy-in of company-wide senior management is essential to success.

Be bold—and refresh!

The “fun factor” is critical to sustain employee interest in an ERP. Several finalists say that competitions and gamification have been key to employee engagement. And almost all have launched new ERPs as a result of lessons learned from their initial attempts.

Take the innovative Talent Spotters ERP that Assurant launched with the help of Creed Communications. The programme uses five, custom-designed and animated “monsters”—the “Talent Spotters”—to creatively promote its rewards, which are a mix of competitions, micro-incentives, points, and a monthly £1000 prize draw. The monsters have been a huge hit with Assurant’s employees, who can use their mobile devices to engage with the programme. The monsters have even turned up to board meetings, helping to engage the managerial staff whose referrals promise to be particularly cost-saving for the company. Constantly pushed, promoted and celebrated, Assurant’s ERP is also regularly refreshed to ensure it doesn’t become stale.

An inclusive, transparent, and creative ERP that’s easy and exciting for participants to use could help your company find the talent it really needs. To learn more, click here.


UPDATE: The 2018 winners in the Best Employee Referral category have been announced! 

  • Gold winners: Assurant Solutions (supported by Creed Comms)
  • Silver winners: AND Digital
  • Bronze winners: Grant Thornton

To view all winners click here.

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