3 signs that your employee referral program is failing

HR Trends November 23, 2015

Employee referrals are the base of crucial recruitment programs as per the recent studies, but for every successful employee referral program, there are many others that fail to meet the mark. Most organizations nowadays have an employee referral program in place but very few have invested time and money to ensure its success. These employee referral programs have reached a point where they have become completely out of sync with the broader organizational objectives and fail to serve any real purpose. It is important to catch signs of employee referral program going out of sync early on since correcting them is easier in the early stages rather than attempting a recovery once the program has lost all relevance.

If you think your employee referral program is showing any or all of these symptoms, it might be a good idea for you to evaluate the effectiveness of your employee referral program and take corrective measures.

1. Disengaged Employees

The surest sign of a failing referral program is when employees remain completely detached and disengaged with the referral program. The signs for this are low participation rates in employee referral initiatives, absence of any excitement for any kind of referral event and little or no response to referral mails seeking referrals for specific positions. A workforce completely disengaged from the employee referral program implies a referral program out of sync with employee expectations. Inadequate or no response to employees regarding their referral, an employee referral tool that is difficult to use or an employee referral program that does not make use of technology (like auto matching) to power the program could result in low engagement levels as these are some basic expectations that employees have from any employee referral program. Referral tools like ZALP can help keep employees engaged in the employee referral program with its gamification features by letting them compete with each other to earn more referral rewards.

2. Negative Employer Brand

The biggest corollary benefit of a well running employee referral program is the positive employer brand generated through positive word of mouth advertising by employees. In case your employee referral program is creating a negative image of your employer brand, it is a sign that your employee referral program is completely out of sync with its objectives. Employees act as brand ambassador to promote the organization and the role among their connections in the normal course of events, but if employee communications are not in sync with each other or with the broader public image of the organization, then the disconnect is likely to create a negative employer brand. The organization is likely to gain a reputation as untrustworthy and not a conducive place to work in. Any good employee referral program should always ensure that messages coming out of the organization through different sources are aligned to each other and do not talk at cross purposes.

3. Rewards that continue to remain unclaimed

The surest sign of a poor reward scheme is when nobody is motivated enough to work towards claiming the reward. One of the biggest letdowns of a reward program is when organizations delay the payout in the interest of retaining the employee. Also introducing small cash rewards indicate a referral program that is out of sync with employee expectations. Rewarding too much also does not serve the purpose as it makes the program unsustainable in the long run. How you chose to reward your employees is an important function of the culture prevalent in an organization. A gaming company for instance might choose to reward its employees by handing out consoles and participation to major gaming events, but this might not work in a law firm, where employees might find a vacation package much more attractive. Choosing the right reward plan for the employee referral program goes a long way in making the program a success. Conversely a referral program out of sync with organizational culture can spell death for your employee referral program.

These are the 3 most obvious signs of a failing employee referral program. There are other less obvious signals like when referral candidates fail to show up on the day of joining or when employee networks fail to throw up quality referrals that indicate that your employee referral program is having problems. Reading these signs early on can help you get the employee referral program up and running effectively much quicker and with much less effort. But even if you fail to catch the signs early on, there is still hope. The best thing to do in such cases is to re-launch the employee referral program under a new name and logo and with new features so that employees do not associate the blunders of the previous employee referral program with this one.


Related Article: How to create a successful employee referral program?

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