Jennifer Picard is the founder and President of KMA Talent Solutions with over 15 years of experience in the Talent Acquisition space and services clients across all industries at various stages of growth.
Paramount Qualities and a Passion for Proficiency
Before she launched her own firm, Picard accomplished much in her 10+ years at DigitasLBi, a multi-billion-dollar global company, where she served as the North American Talent Acquisition leader managing a 40-person recruitment team with a $5.7 million budget and responsible for hiring approximately 1,000 employees annually. She goes into detail how an Employee Referral Program was beneficial for achieving her hiring goals.
1. What are the most important components of a good referral program?
Employee engagement is the most important element! The common slogan is, “Great people know great people.” When employees feel like they are part of a good culture, they will evangelize the brand. It’s not enough to have the best tools or programs, it all comes down to employee engagement.
2. Do you think there is an ideal % of hires a company should aim to generate through referrals?
Yes! On average for most companies I’ve lead, worked for, and consulted, the average is around 30%. However, stronger companies will have a higher percentage closer to the 50% mark.
3. Have you seen a positive impact on retention from referred candidates and on the employees doing the referring?
Yes - At my last company, we ran a full assessment on the retention perspective of 10 years. Referred candidates stay twice as long as hires from other sources.
4. How have you marketed referral programs to create internal visibility?
Some ideas that have worked well for us are launch parties, hot job pushes, pizza and beer lunches, an open house or bring a friend to work, prizes, trips, etc. The most helpful and interesting one has been extending the referral program to the alumni network. Extended the reach to this group during the exit interviews and provided them cards and information on if they wanted to ever work for the company again in the future or suggest someone who would be a great fit. Referral cash bonuses for the Alumni Network were $1,000.
5. What referral probation periods have you seen associated with cash rewards?
Typically, around 90 days is the most common. Once, when doing a big referral hiring push before the holidays, we expedited the time to 30 days in order for people to have cash on hand to spend before Christmas.
6. Have you ever performed any offline referral advertising (e.g. posters, lunches, recruiter 1 on 1s with employees)?
Yes, we have done the typical posters and parties. An original advertising campaign we did in the past featured former colleague names on the walls for a pizza party of people we were looking to target. Since people arrived and came in with no context, they immediately reacted and it energized their thought process. Through this process, it accomplished in hiring an SVP, 2 Directors, and entry-level positions of 2-3 years experience.
7. Have you asked for referrals as part of the new onboarding process?
Yes, we give a full presentation that gives the information and access to new employees. We also see success in asking concise questions such as, “Who are the top 3 people in X field/industry?” as it gets them engaged and then the information is already on-hand.
8. Are there any other referral program tips you would like to pass on?
I’ll end with where I started, that an Employee Referral Program is only as good as the employee engagement and culture. You can have the best program and tools, but it won’t mean anything if you don’t have engaged employees. Referrals are an enhancement of a good culture!
To Implement a world-class Employee Referrals program, here are my three takeaways from Picard:
Takeaway #1: Employee engagement is the most important! Without that, even the best platform and resources will not contribute to the desired results.
Takeaway #2: Stronger companies will have a referral rate closer to the 50% mark and best reflect the prominent culture of the company.
Takeaway #3: In a 10-year study, referred candidates stay twice as long as hires from other sources. Hiring the best talent and understanding how to retain is key for smart companies.
Which ones were your favorite answers and what you would like to implement at your company?
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