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Employee Referral Page

Why use referral campaigns to power your employee referral program?

April 21, 2023

Campaigns to build ‘employer brand’ and drive referrals are taking talent acquisition to the next level.

Here are the problems employee referral campaigns can solve.

Always on doesn't work

The 'always on' traditional approach to brand advocacy and referrals has proven to be ineffective. The natural ebb and flow of an employee's workload makes it too difficult for them to engage all year round. 

Campaigns invite relevant employees to focus on a specific objective for a short period of time. By rewarding employees, campaigns can increase long term engagement.

Irrelevant jobs and content

Employees collectively have vast networks of professional connections across a variety of online platforms. However, it's naive to think that all of those networks are relevant to every open role or piece of content, so taking a broad brush approach to referrals and advocacy doesn't work. In contrast, campaigns increase effectiveness by allowing the right employees to engage with the right roles at the right time.

Employees aren't rewarded for participation

Normally, employees aren't recognised for their participation in sharing jobs and content, which discourages longer term behaviour changes. With campaigns, employees are rewarded immediately at every stage of the process (e.g. for shares and referral applications), encouraging long term consistent engagement with the process. It also means you can build momentum in a campaign by sharing regular updates!

Internal comms aren't used effectively

Getting high levels of engagement relies heavily on regular, high quality, relevant and consistent internal comms to achieve and maintain success. The reality for most businesses – as we know from experience – is there's rarely the time or resource available to fulfil that requirement. Campaigns remove the need for ‘always on’ comms, and instead concentrate efforts into highly effective short term comms delivery.

Processes are too manual and slow for recruiters and employees

With traditional referral and advocacy programmes, it can take weeks or even months of encouragement and communication to get employees to engage with the program. It can also be a slow and manual process for employees to receive rewards. This leaves employees disengaged, and it makes ‘time to hire’ way longer than it should be, which creates problems for recruiters. Campaigns are about speed and relevance, which solves this issue.

The psychology behind campaigns

The psychology behind why campaigns are so effective for employer branding and talent acquisition.

The Hook Model by Nir Eyal is a four-step process of trigger, action, variable reward and investment. It has been designed to help businesses build habit-forming products for consumers. We have built this into our campaign approach on the basis of 4 key steps Eyal identified:

The Hook Model

  1. Trigger - building a clear and simple trigger eg. campaign kick comms from a senior stakeholder to explain the importance of participation for the business. 
  2. Action - explaining what's expected and providing the tools, for example relevant pieces of content that can be shared to support an advocacy campaign. 
  3. Variable rewards - moving away from solely using monetary rewards and appealing to different aspects of an employee’s character e.g. with collective charity goals. 
  4. Investment - using short term leaderboards to drive competition throughout the duration of the campaign to retain employee interest and maximise results.

Eyal's Hook Model provides the basis for how the campaign approach works for employees and hiring managers.

Incentive Theory

Incentive theory takes that thinking a little deeper. Incentive theory began to emerge during the 1940s and 50s. 

Rather than focusing on forces behind motivation, the incentive theory proposes that people are pulled towards behaviours that lead to rewards. 

We are pulled into action by outside incentives. “Two people may act in different ways in the same situation based entirely on the types of incentives available to them at that time.”

Incentive theory works on the basis that incentives are only powerful if the individual places importance on the reward. Rewards must also be attainable to be motivating, which for traditional schemes is often not the case. 

The final part of incentive theory that impacts campaigns is reinforcement at regular intervals. Campaigns begin by rewarding employees for making referrals for open roles that end up at the interview stage. 

Each time their referral gets to an interview, they receive points, which accumulate over time, enabling employees to redeem these points. 

The short, focused and hyper relevant nature of campaigns is appealing to employees and TAs alike. But having a reward structure that seeks to deliver on proven psychological models is what really makes the difference when it comes to changing employee behaviour and maintaining engagement in the long term.

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