In the last blog, I detailed my interactions with the great people who ran the conference I was speaking at in San Diego. The most important point of the blog was that NONE of them chose to go to work for that organization because of researching all their options and then targeting that company as an employer of choice. Each of them had been referred to the organization because someone who knew them suggested they apply. They had third-party confirmation that while they didn’t know if they would fit the job and the company, someone who knew them and already worked there did.

There are three main reasons why employee referral programs fail to produce great results:

  1. These programs are not marketed or advertised to employees using the same tools and tactics the company uses to market their products and services. Most of these programs are mentioned once or twice… then the company expects the employees to make it a priority in their day, every day. We don’t expect that of new customers, do we?
  2. The employees have no idea which jobs the organization is hiring for at any given time, nor do they know the type of person who would be a great fit for that job. How can they refer people to you without this knowledge?
  3. Most organizations offer money as the reward, and the waiting period for the payout can be as long as one year. YIKES!

Let’s talk about the last one for a second. First, when was the last time you waited a year (or even 6 months!) for anything? In an environment where people can have virtually anything delivered to their doorstep from around the world in 48 hours… is waiting 6 months to a year for something realistic at all? Plus, we know through research that if a new employee stays for 91 days, they are very likely to stay in that job for 3.4 years. Why isn’t that the payout date?

Second, you are asking people to take an emotional risk by making this referral. You want them to risk a friendship or family relationship for something they already have? Remember, they have no control over whether this person they refer will even get an interview, much less a job offer. If it doesn’t work out, they look bad, and the relationship is forever altered.

Two ideas to consider:

Reward the ACT of the referral, NOT the outcome.

If it is an emotional risk, why not offer an emotional reward for taking the risk? More to come…

If you are looking for insight or specific action steps to grow a process within your organization to Win the War for Talent, please reach out. It’s my passion to help companies solve their talent issues, whether that is finding the right talent or retaining and developing that talent. With the right processes in place, your organization can grow and thrive even more!

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