6 Creative Ways Companies Keep Their Referral Programs Top-of-Mind

January 25, 2016

As a recruiter, you’re well acquainted with your company’s employee referral program. Unfortuntalely, that makes you unique.

The truth is, most employees have limited knowledge of their company’s referral program. And when they do, they likely aren’t informed about what positions are open at the company, aside from ones on their team. 

This is a problem, since research shows that employee referrals are perhaps the best way to hire, as they are a proven source of inexpensive, high-quality candidates. But, most employees don’t refer nearly as often as they could, simply because they don’t think about it.

To change this and build awareness of your employee referral program, consider coming up with a robust promotion plan. We spoke to six companies that already have gotten pretty creative when it comes to keeping referrals top-of-mind in the office.

Here is what they did: 

1. InMobi parked a motorbike in the middle of their corporate headquarters

InMobi, an Indian-based technology company, offered a motorbike to any candidate who successfully referred an engineering manager (motorbikes are particularly popular in India).

That’s interesting enough, but what really made it great was that they actually bought the motorbike and parked it right in the front of their corporate headquarters.

The point? Now, every day, every employee would see that motorbike as they walked into work, ensuring their employee referral program was always top-of-mind.

2. A Booking.com recruiter bought the whole office Portuguese food  

Booking.com needed a customer service representatives who spoke both Portuguese and English to help facilitate their growth in Brazil. Unfortunately, they were having a tough time finding candidates, prompting one intrepid recruiter to get creative.

The recruiter decided to bring in Portuguese food one day for the office, leaving behind a note reminding the workers they needed Portuguese-speaking customer service representatives. Shortly thereafter, referrals for Portuguese-speaking customer service representatives spiked.

3. Google asks questions like, “Whose the best salesperson you know in New York?”

Google found one of the best ways to get more referrals was to “nudge” employees into referring. What does that mean, exactly?

It means asking specific questions that forcibly jog a person’s memory. For example, if Google is looking to hire account executives in New York, they don’t email around the job description. Instead, they ask their workforce, “Whose the best salesperson you know in New York?”, which gets a much higher response rate.  

4. GoDaddy advertises its referral program in code

GoDaddy wanted to increase the amount of referrals it got for developers. So rather than putting up a generic poster asking for employees to refer developers, they put up a poster asking for employees to refer developers, but they wrote it in computer code.

Specifically, the code on the poster read (once you decoded it) “If you know of a coder in your network who kicks a--, refer to GoDaddy Recruiting.”

The poster created buzz in the office and became a conversation starter, which helped GoDaddy nearly double the amount of referrals it got.

5. PURE looks to get their employees referring – immediately

Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE) is an insurance company that sources between 40 and 60 percent of its employees via referral. How do they get such a high number?

They ask for referrals early. Within thirty days of someone being hired at PURE, a recruiter will ask them if they know anyone else who would be a good fit for the company. Not only does this lead to more referrals immediately, it also instills the importance of referring in all employees.

6. Enterprise Rent-A-Car turns referring into a competition

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has a culture built around competition. Their employee referral program is no different, as regions are pitted against each other to see who can get the most referrals, with the winners getting cash bonuses.

There’s even a corporate-wide leaderboard that shows which regions are referring the most candidates. All of that keeps referrals top-of-mind for their entire workforce, resulting in roughly one-third of all Enterprise-Rent-A-Car employees being sourced via referral.

Tying it all together

It’s not a novel concept to say marketing is key to any initiative’s success. Apple lets the world know when it releases a new iPhone, car companies tout their accomplishments on commercials across the world and hamburger shops spend millions educating the public about their innovative new hamburgers.

An employee referral program is no different. Its success is directly tied to how well it’s marketed. If you can keep it top-of-mind with your employees, you are going to get more referrals.

The six mentioned companies all figured out creative ways to do exactly that, and none of their methods were particularly expensive. There’s no reason you shouldn’t experiment with some of your own ideas, in the spirit of getting more employee referrals to help invigorate your recruiting efforts.  

*Image from InMobi

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