If you launch a referral programme and your employees don’t participate in it, you may as well not have launched anything at all. Attractive referral bonuses definitely play a part in incentivising employees, but bonuses aren’t the crux to a referral programme’s success. Whether your employees get involved in referrals or not depends on how well you communicate on your referral programme – on how it works and what benefits it will serve. Programme adoption is key, not only at launch, but also in the long run. Here are some best practices for you to follow.
Communication and engagement are pivotal to successful referral programmes
Communication operations surrounding your referral programme must start as soon as you launch it – if not before. Make sure you communicate regularly from that point onwards, because remember, you’re asking your employees to commit to the programme in addition to their daily professional responsibilities. If you don’t send out regular reminders and incentives, your referral programme will get left out in the cold. So if there’s one thing to keep in mind here, it’s recurrence.
Establish a communication strategy BEFORE you launch your referral programme
Plan communication initiatives to implement at launch, but also consider how you’re going to maintain employee motivation month after month. Your roadmap for communicating on referrals must take into account the specificities of your programme, including steps, target groups, individual interests and needs, etc. Prepare as much content as you can in advance, and make it as varied as possible.
- Objective: Introduce your new initiative to your employees to spark curiosity.
- Strategy: Define your referral programme objectives, analyse target groups, identify communication channels.
- Content: Announce your new referral programme, explain the context, clearly show the relevance of the programme for your company and for employees. You can even spice it up a little by setting up a countdown or organising an official launch event.
Support programme launch with specific communication operations
- Objective: Secure the highest number of signups and start counting employee actions (vacancy shares, posts, etc.) and the first recommendations made by employees.
- Strategy: Make a lasting impression with an impactful programme launch and provide employees with all the information they need to understand the programme and its benefits.
- Content: Provide creative, attention-grabbing content, such as a fun video on referrals, testimonies from people who have referred or been referred in a previous company, printable infographics of programme rules, etc. Sending a starter pack to employees can also be a smart endeavour. Include programme rules, a catalogue-like list of rewards, examples of messages to post to social networks, etc.
Keep up quality communication BEYOND programme launch
- Objective: Continue to increase signups, maintain high and constant activity rates, and generate more recommendations and applications.
- Strategy: Create content, request feedback on a regular basis, monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and make adjustments to your communication based on results and feedback. In short, focus on constant improvement.
- Content: Share the first few employee testimonials, employee best practices, explanatory videos and tutorials on how to perform certain actions (sharing vacancies and employer brand content, etc.), spotlight employees who are particularly proactive, etc. You can also, for instance, set challenges in the workplace on a regular basis with new rewards.
The importance of defining a precise target
The term “target” can sound intimidating to some recruiters due to its ties with advertising and marketing jargon. Other recruiters are, however, increasingly drawing inspiration from marketing techniques to gain a more profound understanding of the audience they’re addressing, and adapt their communication – which is great to help “targets” feel understood and valued. In recruiting, targets are usually candidates, but they can also be company employees!
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To develop a robust communication plan, start off by identifying goals you wish to achieve. How many participants do you aim to have signed up to the programme over the first 6 months? How many recommendations would you like to receive for a specific vacancy? Ask yourself all the right questions so you can draw up a plan that takes into account your company’s specificities.
Identify referral ambassadors
You won’t achieve full adoption of your referral programme straight away. Initially, its success will depend mainly on how well you define your target group of “pioneers”. These internal promoters, or influencers, fully adhere to your referral programme thanks to the specifically targeted messages you will have sent them after identifying their needs and sources of motivation.
They’ll become your ambassadors. As you can see, communicating on referrals can be rolled out in several phases.
Adapt your communication operations to the habits of your referring employees
If most of your employees have their own laptop, communicating through email campaigns, regular newsletters, and posts on the company’s intranet or on other digital communication channels can be a good move. But if your company mostly employs staff who don’t work with laptops or tablets, it’s best to contact them through mobile applications, and don’t hold back on putting up posters about your referral programme or promoting it during events.
Displaying posters and flyers in central locations such as the staff restaurant or break rooms is highly recommended and will reach all types of employees.
The behaviours of your target groups will determine which channels you should use to inform them and spark motivation in the most efficient way possible.
Communicating automatically on your referral operations through emails, apps, etc. will only be possible if you leverage a digital referral programme. It really is the best solution if you’re looking to save time and communicate more effectively.
Meaningful referral subjects to communicate on
Developing early on a communication plan for the first few months of programme implementation will help you channel your energy into ensuring the programme’s adoption rather than into producing content. In order to make sure your referral programme is firmly set in the minds of your employees, you need to offer varied content – on a variety of topics, in a variety of formats, etc. Here are a few examples:
- Regarding the digital referral tool: Explain some of the features it offers, or provide a step-by-step demonstration of the referral process.
- Regarding programme performance: Share testimonials from new employees who joined the company as a result of a referral, or spotlight recruiting success stories.
- Regarding the benefits for your employees: Provide information on bonuses you’ve already granted or new actions to engage in, share photos of your employees enjoying their rewards (team lunches, team-building sessions, gift cards, etc.).
Choosing the right time and the right channel for communicating on referrals
You need to answer the following questions:
- Which channel will allow you to reach the highest number of employees?
- Which communication channel yields the highest employee engagement (ambassadors included)?
- How do you plan to provide your employees with content they can share on their social networks?
Answering these three questions will at least help you see which direction you should head in.
Important advice: Communication is good, but don’t overdo it! You can, of course, experiment with a variety of communication channels, or a combination of channels, depending on your target groups. But the more channels you leverage, the more the information you put out will become diluted, and the more your target audience will struggle to find your content. Once you’re done testing your channels, choose one main channel and 2 secondary channels. No more.
Communicating doesn’t mean “everything, everywhere, all the time”. Internal communication can be facilitated through ambassadors to reach those employees who might be harder to convince but whom you mustn’t forget.
If you’re looking for advice on how to implement a referral programme and a relevant communication strategy, we can provide you with the support you need.