Employee recognition is a major factor in workplace activities, and employee referral programs are no exception. Acknowledging employees’ contributions to the program encourages both repeat behavior and feelings of accomplishment. Precisely because the success of your referral program is, for all intents and purposes, dependent on the participation rates of your employees, it is important to facilitate a culture of gratitude, giving credit where credit is due and sending the message that your employees’ involvement is extremely valuable.
Here are four steps to recognize employees in your referral program:
- Reward Efforts. A crucial element of the program is to reward employees’ referral efforts. This means that whether or not their referrals are hired, employees should be rewarded throughout the hiring process for achievements such as referring a qualified candidate or submitting a recommendation. Let’s face it – for all the employees who submit referrals for a single job, only one employee’s candidate is going to be hired. Issuing the reward to this sole employee, and ignoring the others who put in virtually the same efforts, only serves to alienate the majority of your employees and discourage them from submitting referrals again (“My referral probably won’t be hired, and I’ll be stuck with nothing yet again.”). Shift the focus from that sole employee to all employees, and ensure that everybody feels like a winner.
- Give Public Recognition. Singling out a thriving employee in front of the entire team and praising his or her contributions does three things: First, it is a source of pride for the employee on the receiving end of the commendation. It boosts his or her confidence, causing the employee to want to continue the winning streak and keep participating. Second, it raises awareness of the program’s relevance among all of the observing employees. It shows them that making great referrals is also within their grasp, and transforms the referral program into a tangible, real goal. This gets more people excited and involved. Finally, it acts as a visual leader board from which employees can measure themselves against their peers, see what the benchmarks are, and strive to reach higher.
- Give Personalized Feedback. Meeting one-on-one with an employee to review their referral-making progress shows them they are an integral part of the program, and that you are eager to work together to make sure that they succeed. By giving them positive and constructive feedback in a non-pressured, private setting, you can better convey their role in the program. This feedback validates their efforts, and is another way to give them the confidence that they are going in the right direction. In addition, it provides them with the opportunity to offer feedback about their own user experience as far as how they think the program is doing, and what they would do to improve it.
- Ask for Input and Updates. Asking employees for candidate recommendations shows you value their assistance and that you are interested in hearing why they believe their referrals would be a good fit for your company. In addition, keeping them updated as to the status of their referrals sends the message that you respect their contributions and that they deserve to be informed. By requesting input and providing updates, you can further underscore the “team effort” aspect of the referral program and spread continued interest among employees.
Recognition of employees’ involvement in referral programs will reinforce the behavior that you want to repeat: referrals of good candidates. It will empower them with a sense of personal achievement and the knowledge that they can play a greater role within your company as referrers of top talent.