What Happened to Your Employee Referral Program? 4 Ways the Right Tech Can Spice It Up:

Features Recruiter.com

More companies are looking to hire more and more people, which is good news for job seekers. A 2015 iCIMS study found that 85 percent of the 107 HR professionals surveyed expected hiring to increase or stay the same at their companies in the coming years.

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But are employers using the best available methods to meet their growing needs?

Fortunately, many companies have gotten savvy and are improving their sourcing strategies by turning to employee referral programs. According to that same ICIMS study, 63 percent of organizations have a documented referral program, and more than half of the HR professionals surveyed agree that referred employees stay longer, feel more satisfaction, and are better cultural fits.

What it takes to run a successful employee referral campaign will depend on each company's specific needs and capabilities, but no matter the size of an organization, technology is always a critical tool. Large and small companies alike can benefit from using tech platforms to get all hands on deck when it comes to employee referral programs.

Here are a few ways in which the right tech can contribute to a successful employee referral campaign:

1. Interactive Dashboards

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Take the hassle out of referral submissions, status tracking, and reward fulfillment. An interactive dashboard engages employees with exciting, easy-to-use technology.

Your employee referral program should be focused on the employee. It should make their life easier. A dashboard allows them to check the status of their referrals and track their progress in real time.

The interface should include all the relevant information at a glance, conveniently organizing the entire experience. Customize it so employees can quickly digest the information they need – like how many of their referrals are being screened – in a convenient way.

2. Automation

"Automation" is everyone's favorite word when they think about technology. A strong tech platform automates several processes to reduce the legwork and waste associated with paper-pushing. With the right tech, tracking and distributing referrals is automatic, freeing up time for HR to focus on expanding awareness of the employee referral campaign.

Drumming up some friendly competition is a crucial component of a successful campaign, so it may be a good idea to track metrics for the entire staff and use this data to keep the competition going. Participants can view the leaderboard to see how each person is performing in real time.

Encourage employees to create profiles on the referral platform, if possible. That way, they can sync their professional connections and the technology can pinpoint which of their contacts is the best candidate to refer for a given role.

3. Ambassador Toolkits

You want your employees to become brand ambassadors, spreading the positivity associated with your company. Use technology to educate your staff and teach them the tactics they need to be the best possible ambassadors for your brand.

Create toolkits that consist of training materials. Write workbooks with exercises that help employees develop deeper understandings of the employer brand, the message you want them to communicate, and the best ways to spread that message. Offer pamphlets that supplement employer brand workshops. Arrange for presentations that offer actionable advice. Each employee should have a clear understanding of the company's values, vision, and mission so they can connect with referrals in a meaningful way.

A major component of being a brand ambassador involves reaching out to professional networks and followers on social media outlets. A survey from Weber Shandwick found that only 33 percent of the 2,300 employees surveyed said that their employers encourage them to use social media to share news about the company or their work.

Be proactive. Tell participants to make the most out of the social media boom by strategizing relevant posts and sharing important company details so their connections will feel excited to learn more about your organization and the opportunities it offers.

4. Rewards and Recognition

Tie rewards and recognition into your employee referral strategy. When employees feel valued and celebrated for their contributions, they are motivated to continue participating.

Choose your reward systems wisely. A 2015 LinkedIn survey found that while only 40 percent of the 200 employees surveyed said they make referrals for rewards, 96 percent said a cash bonus was the most appropriate type of reward.

While cash is always effective, that doesn't mean you can't come up with other fun and creative reward ideas. There are three influential factors – financial, social, and altruistic. Financial can include prizes like gift cards, music streaming subscriptions, or baseball tickets

Some people are more motivated by social recognition. Rewards can range from a simple thank-you email and a "Top Referrer" t-shirt to a celebratory outing to toast the winner or an additional paid day off.

Altruism is also a strong motivational tool. Offer incentives to the winner by donating to their favorite charity, building a well for clean water initiatives, or buying them a U.S. national park pass for the year.

When you integrate technology into your employee referral program, you design an engaging, fun game of sorts that provides instant gratification and ongoing feedback. Your employees become excited to participate and strive establish themselves as the best brand ambassadors for your company.

Kes Thygesen is cofounder and head of product at RolePoint.