7 Common Referral Practices to Avoid, and What to Do Instead

Sep 17, 2015

At its simplest level, an Employee Referral Program relies upon people for results.

For an ERP to succeed it needs to cater to the interests of your employees, the people who make it work. Don’t think about the program as raw numbers and data. Address it in individual terms and consider how the practices you employ relate to your employees on an emotional level. Employers can utilize a variety of strategies to strengthen their referral program in this way.

Review the list below for some common pitfalls that many ERPs suffer from and learn how to avoid them.

Poor Practice: Too many rules and restrictions

Best Practice: Simplify and streamline your referral process

If you really want someone to perform a task, make it simple to do. Referring a friend should be quick and easy. Too many hoops demoralize your employees and discourage them from participating. Filling out multiple forms or redundant materials overcomplicates the process.

Poor Practice: Slow response to referrals and queries

Best Practice: Prompt, timely action on referrals and questions

No one likes to be ignored, so don’t let your employees feel that way when they have questions. Ignoring questions gives the impression that you don’t value an employee’s efforts. And if your employees don’t feel valued, they won’t recommend you to their friends and acquaintances.

A prompt response shows appreciation and helps build a culture where your employees know that their contributions are valued. Whether through an email or a quick phone call, the important thing is to keep an open line of communication.

Poor Practice: Spamming employees with referral requests

Best Practice: Regular, targeted requests

Your workforce can be your best source of potential employees, but unless they work on your Talent Acquisition Team, they have other things to do throughout the day. Your employee’s time is valuable, so don’t waste it.

Rather than send constant email blasts for every position available, send your email requests at regular intervals, i.e. once-a-week. Additionally, rather than send all your requests to everyone, target your requests to specific groups within your employee base. If you’re looking to hire an engineer, you’re more likely to get a referral for the position from the other engineers than from your call center workers.

Poor Practice: Not providing feedback on referrals

Best Practice: Communicate with employees regarding their referrals

Your employees are already your best source of potential hires, but they can become even better with a little training. You should make a habit of communicating with employees about their referrals, both the good and the bad. Feedback helps referrers better understand your expectations.

Poor Practice: Not giving referrals priority treatment

Best Practice: Put referrals at the top of the list

Employers agree that referred hires tend to be better fits, are more productive and stay longer than non-referred hires, not to mention that they’re faster to hire and make the hiring process less expensive. This is especially true if you’ve implemented the practices above and trained your employees to be more effective. Hiring referrals offers employers a host of benefits, but only if employers take them seriously.

Poor Practice: Equal rewards for all jobs

Best Practice: Reflect your business priorities through position-specific rewards

Not all jobs are equal. Some are more demanding in terms of education or experience. Some are more pivotal to your business initiatives. If your business derives a greater value from specific positions, the reward for that referral should reflect it. Positions with skills that are rare or in high demand should also carry a similarly significant reward.

Poor Practice: Delay rewarding successful referrers

Best Practice: Prompt fulfillment of promised rewards

This one’s simple: Deliver on your promise. Whatever you’ve established as a reward for a hire, make sure your employee clearly understands when it will be paid, and then make sure you fulfill the expectation. If your employee has to ask about it, you’ve waited too long.