From time to time, we like to present the real-life successes of HR pros across the country. This one shows how a little ingenuity and the use of social media can resurrect a tired employee referral program.
This case study was provided by Deanna Buchanan, principle head recruiter at Sage North America in Atlanta.
Our referral program needed an overhaul.
Like most firms, we offered a cash reward for employees who suggested an applicant for us to hire.
But we rarely did anything to market or promote the program.
We decided to take a new look at the program and see what we could do to ratchet up the number of referrals.
Social networks to the rescue
We put together a group to research what was working for other firms.
What we realized was that we weren’t using one crucial tool: social media.
In our old program, workers let their friends know about open positions via email.
For the new program, staffers still have that option – but now they can also share the open job on Facebook and Twitter just as easily.
We also send out a semimonthly email to staff with info about what positions are open and what type of people we’re looking for.
We wanted to up the reward level for successful referrals as well. So we opted to make one change our biggest change – literally.
Workers who successfully refer a candidate to us receive $1,000 for an exempt hourly employee, $1,500 for an exempt salaried staffer, and more for higher-level people.
The money is added to their paycheck – but we didn’t want it to end there.
So we’ve taken to getting giant oversized checks printed up – like the ones they give to the winners of pro golf tournaments – to give to each worker who successfully refers applicants to us.
Then we take a photo of us presenting the check to the employee and get it printed up.
Then we put the photo in a special branded frame for workers to keep on their desks.
Both of those are meant to serve as visual reminders of the referral program and talking points for staffers when they gather around each other’s desks.
Perhaps most importantly, we make sure to reward the referral quickly.
Some firms wait until the hire has been with their company for three or six months. But we wanted to reward the referral behavior – and not the performance of the referred worker.
Know they’re coming
So far, our referrals have accounted for about 20% to 30% of our hires.
The new program makes it easier for workers to refer people to us via their social networks.
And we’ve made the program more visible to our employees via the emails and the giant-check presentations.