Kevin Benton is the Head of Americas Talent Acquisition & Global Executive Search at McAfee Security is regularly praised for his leadership and tenacity and loves to be hands-on in solving talent needs and building and operationalizing scalable talent organizations.
Always On, Always Willing
Ever ready and persistent to uncover true talent, Benton elevates the standards for quality and won’t settle for less. For years, he has helped to cultivate great change during company transitions and tremendous growth. He stands by the belief that a company’s most strategic initiative is acquiring top talent and retaining it for the long term. He shares how a robust Employee Referral Program was efficient in accomplishing key hiring goals.
1. What are the most important components of a good referral program?
First, employee engagement. Second, avoid the black-hole. Third, allow some level of self-service to the employees to understand the status of their referral.
2. Do you think there is an ideal % of hires a company should aim to generate through referrals?
Yes, approximately 30%. I like that percentage because it indicates to me that people are positive on the corporate culture and the company success, and it’s not much of a percentage where you risk on hiring more of the same and losing diversity.
3. What are the main challenges you’ve seen companies face when looking to increase their % of hires through referrals?
There’s a couple of challenges from a concept standpoint, you have systematic challenges. How do I capture and account for referrals themselves? A system will allow you to maintain and use the data. If you’re a small company, your spreadsheets with lots of data get lost in the shuttle. If you’re a big company, you rely on data, but then you may risk losing the intimacy of this kind of datapoint being referrals. System data management is a big one and along those lines, another challenge is having the manpower to manage the activity levels. Whether it’s capturing and reporting referrals, double checking eligibility, or sending certain data sets up to the payroll people to process referral bonuses there needs to be system level access and bandwidth issues to be aware of.
4. Outside of the direct value of filling requisitions, have you experienced any other benefits of a strong referrals program?
Yes, employee engagement 100%. The more the referral program and campaigns can be system driven and capturing data, that ensures a measurable positive employee experience.
5. What level of employee referral cash bonuses have you rewarded in the past?
I’ve never really sensed a different output based on money. The right dollar amount, in the US Market, is around $1-3K, and in some countries convert the currency ratios and pick a similar amount of money. What I have found is more effective is the immediate rewards for immediate effort. As an employee, I can only control the submittal of my referral. After that, it’s just out of my control. It goes to a recruiter, a manager, the interview team, timing is involved, etc. It’s all left up to others who are going to decide the fate of that referral. The act of following the program request with a Starbucks card, movie pass, dinner coupon is most effective because it’s immediate. People want to help their friends but the immediate reward and thank you and reiterates the value of referrals.
6. What’s the #1 employee referral program tip you would like to pass on?
Create a call to action. Why are you asking employees to reach out their network? Are you looking to hire talent or diversity? Employees need a clear call of what to do and why.
In reviewing Benton’s strategies, here are my three takeaways:
Takeaway #1: A self-serve referral system that offers transparency for employees and manages the data for recruiters, solves the biggest problems and makes it run efficiently.
Takeaway #2: Referral rate reflects the employee’s perception of the company and their success. Aim to have a referral rate of at least 30%.
Takeaway #3: The most effective reward is the one that is immediate and reiterates the value of referrals. Receiving a thank you along with a gift card or other instant gratification makes the biggest impression on employees and helps in the long term to continue the process.
What are the best strategies in your opinion for creating a world-class referral program? Do you agree with Benton?
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