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Why a referral scheme should be an integral part of your recruitment strategy

When it comes to recruitment, referral schemes are nothing new. They’ve long been an inexpensive way of engaging your current workforce better while finding relevant new talent. With social networks growing online, and the market becoming increasingly busy and competitive, being recommended for a role by someone you know and, in turn, a company having someone highlighted to them, breaks through the noise and adds value at little cost.  

With that in mind, it makes sense that referral schemes should be an integral part to any recruitment strategy. Employers can leverage their workforces’ network for a wide variety of roles. Referral schemes are an especially effective tool in volume recruitment, for example if a customer service team are looking to grow by 10% in a year, even if just 50% of the current workforce refers someone in their network, there is immediately a pool of candidates. Similarly, niche roles that may be hard to fill can often benefit from a referral scheme. Industry specialists in their field will often know similar experts; tap into these connections and you are likely to have some great candidates for your latest Software Developer/Compliance Manager/HR Manager vacancy.

This is all good news for the organisation, but what’s in it for the employees? Why should they go out of their way to recommend? In the first instance, employees will make referrals to help support a business they are engaged in. So, it is actually it is a good measure of how engaged your workforce is and is often used as part of employee engagement surveys. However, if you are to reward those who go out of their way to support the business goals, they are likely to do it again and encourage others to do it too. Whether the reward is monetary or other benefits, e.g. an additional day of holiday, the opportunity-cost to the business is very low. 

So, referral schemes are a great method of recruiting and engaging your employees, in a relatively low cost way. But before you will have a steady stream of great candidates, you will need to have a referral plan in place as part of the wider strategy. An interactive, interesting launch of the scheme followed by planned activity will keep the scheme front of mind. The more engaging, creative and clear the scheme collateral is, the more successful it is likely to be. Importantly, the mechanics of the scheme need to be clear, uncomplicated and fundamentally work for the organisation, employee and candidate so that the experience is a good one for those involved.

Referral schemes:

  • Are a great employee engagement tool, as well as a precious recruitment tool.
  • Need to be understood by employees and be reminded of the how, what, where systematically.
  • Are for connecting industry networks not ‘friends’.  Think six degrees of separation or ‘small world’ syndrome… (or the Kevin Bacon game).
  • Can be invaluable for recruiting into both volume and niche roles.
  • Are a route to some of the best people in an increasingly competitive market.

    To talk to us about introducing a referral scheme to your organisation, give us a call on (0117) 300 3000 or email

In categories: Business thoughts , Employee engagement , Recruitment
Author: Tivoli
Date published: 28.03.2017

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