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Let’s say you have an excellent employee referral program. It’s easy for employees to use, and primed to deliver the best candidates into your hiring funnel. But month after month, it lies unused—your employees seem to have forgotten about it. You have a great program, but you’re not getting actual employee referrals from it.

If this sounds familiar, it’s time you started promoting your employee referral program. We break down the best tactics for ensuring your employees know how to refer candidates.

What Is an Employee Referral Program? 

An employee referral program is any formalized system you use to keep track of the candidates your current employees refer to your open jobs.

Employee referrals are an incredibly effective way to find candidates and retain employees. In fact, almost half of all businesses say referrals are their best source for new hires.

Learn more about employee referral programs

How Do You Set Up an Employee Referral Program? 

Setting up an employee referral program involves choosing a platform, setting up rewards, and, of course, marketing your program.

Some people choose Google Forms or Excel to keep track of referrals, but this can get time-consuming and confusing. Using dedicated software, either as part of your applicant tracking system or otherwise, can help you create an easy to use system that you don’t have to micro-manage.

For more in-depth information on setting up an employee referral program, check out our guide.

Why Should You Bother Promoting Your Referral Program? 

Your staff is busy: it’s quite possible that a referral program may fade into the background. But an internal marketing program can keep the program top of mind, so your employees remember to refer candidates whenever you have an open position.

As a result, internal marketing strategies can help you increase your employee referrals. Here’s how to market yours.

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Steps to Increasing Your Employee Referrals: A Checklist

1. Decide on Evergreen Incentives 

Your employee referral program should have incentives for employees who make successful referrals. Incentives are vital—without them, employees likely won’t feel motivated to submit referrals.

These rewards are often cash, but you can also offer experiential incentives (more on that later). Another option is to offer tiered incentives. In this system, higher value rewards go to employees who submit the highest number of referrals, or to those who submit referrals for the most in-demand positions.

Consider Experiential Incentives

Experiential rewards—which offer a unique, memorable, and desirable experience—can help you attract more employee referrals. They can be tailored to an individual’s interests, making them feel more meaningful.

Experiential rewards can include discounts or gift cards to local establishments, tickets to sports games, or raffle tickets for a high-value gift. You can even auction off parking spots, for example—get creative! Depending on the activity or experience, experiential rewards can be more cost-effective than offering tangible prizes or a flat bonus.

2. Ensure Your System Is User-Friendly

If your employees feel that referring candidates is a laborious process, ask yourself how you can make it better. Marketing your employee referral program won’t be effective if your employees feel the system is too time-consuming or difficult to use.

Try performing an audit of your current process, or conducting surveys with employees to identify pain points in the referral process.

If you’re struggling to manage a manual submission system, such as Google Forms, a dedicated referral platform may help.

3. Advertise Your Employee Referral Program Digitally 

While advertising your employee referral program, remember to use of all the digital tools at your disposal. Remind employees in newsletters, employee intranet, email and/or text campaigns, and social media posts. Tack reminders onto other communications, so you can keep your referral program front of mind without overloading employees. Highlighting employees hired through the referral system in your newsletter or at meetings can also be a great way to build awareness.

4. Make Use of In-House Advertisements 

Healthcare workers are often on their feet, and may lose sight of digital communications.

Posters and flyers might feel old school, but they can do wonders in a healthcare setting. And you can always bridge the gap between the physical and digital words by including QR codes on your flyers.

Add QR codes that connect to your employee referral website, so employees can easily jump from a poster or flyer to the employee referral portal itself.

Make use of free resources, such as Canva, to create eye-catching posters even if you don’t have a dedicated creative team. If you want to take your branding to the next level, consider working with a freelance designer or agency.

5. Create a Referrals Contest  

Another way to boost engagement? Gamify your employee referrals with contests. Challenge employees or teams of employees to get the highest number of referrals—winner gets a prize!

A contest can increase your awareness and excitement in the short term. Those with the most qualified referral could win a high-value item, or be entered into a raffle for one.

Just make sure that people aren’t just referring everyone they know—clarify exactly what qualifications you’re looking for, and ensure that only qualified referrals count towards the contest.

Is Your Employee Referral Program Working? Here’s How You Can Tell

First, decide on the goals of your employee referral program. Are you interested in increasing the number of candidates who apply for your roles? Or are you satisfied with the number of candidates coming in, but would like them to be more qualified?

Make sure you track your desired metrics before and after beginning to promote your employee referral program. Track these numbers manually or use the analytics provided by your applicant tracking system.

Find out how one Apploi customer transformed their hiring with analytics

Better Hiring With Apploi

The right software can help you get more referred candidates from your employee referral program, without adding work for your team. Apploi is here to help.

Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end talent management solution.

Jenny Ortiz

Jenny Ortiz is a strategic marketer with over 15 years of experience in creative, marketing, and advertising. She specializes in developing best-in-class solutions around media diversification, employer brand, candidate journeys, and engagement in order to help healthcare companies attract top talent. Outside of the office, she is an advanced open water scuba diver and a lover of international travel, and enjoys spending quality time with friends and family.