All signs point to another good summer tourism season – the economy is going well, consumer confidence is high, gas prices remain relatively low, and many studies predict there will be greater demand for travel this summer – even higher than summer 2015, which was the highest in some years, according to Destination Analysts, a tourism research and marketing company.
Furthermore, research from SnagaJob.com, a seasonal employment job board, shows that employers expect to hire more seasonal workers this summer than in the previous two summers. In the survey of employers in the restaurant, hospitality, and retail industries, respondents also reported expecting that the vast majority of jobs would be filled with new applicants rather than returning workers.
One of the problems facing employers, however, is the availability of jobseekers to fill the demand for those summer seasonal jobs. Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, Inc., a well-respected outplacement firm, reports, “The number of teens seeking and finding summer jobs during the summer months has declined in each of the last three years—a trend that is likely to continue in 2016.”
What’s the solution? Using employee referrals to boost not only the number of applicants, but also the quality of applicants.
Why Employee Referrals
In study after study, the vast majority of employers rate employee referrals as the best source for generating quality new hires – and the best return on investment, especially when considering the costs of posting jobs, sorting through the high volume of applicants, and time spent interviewing.
Furthermore, done correctly, an employee referral program can boost morale (and perhaps productivity) of existing employees who feel a deeper connection to the organization that wants – and uses – their input on future hires.
Finally, an employee referral program can also have a positive impact on your organization’s reputation – and brand. When current employees recruit their friends and colleagues (and/or their siblings, children), they are sending the message that the organization is a good place to work. And research shows that millennials especially are looking for employers who share their values.
Because obtaining younger candidates to fill open and expected jobs has become harder over the past several years, now is the time to create – or revise and enhance – your recruiting and employee referral plan.
3 Steps to a Successful Employee Referral Program
A successful employee referral program turns your employees into recruiters so that you can source a strong base of candidates for a low recruitment cost. But if done haphazardly or incorrectly, your employee referral program can lead to low involvement – and even resentment.
So how can you get the most from a new or existing employee referral program?
Step 1: Survey employees to determine motivators.
Many employers offer cash bonuses, but cash is not always the motivating factor we think it is; furthermore, if the cash bonus is not seen as a relevant amount, even those motivated by cash will not bother with the effort.
If not cash, what else might motivate employees to make referrals? Research shows that recognition – real recognition – is a powerful motivator, as are quarterly drawings, non-cash prizes (such as free products, services), extra vacation days, charitable donations, catered meals, and more. Some employers actually make referrals part of the appraisal/promotion process.
Remember to develop rewards not only for successful hires, but simply for involvement in the program. (Not all referred candidates will get hired obviously.)
This first step is key to your success. You must listen to your employees and choose the best method – or combination of methods – for your employees to buy into the program.
Step 2: Communicate the details – and benefits – of the program to all employees.
Make the process simple and streamlined. When conducting large-scale hiring, such as for seasonal jobs, make an even more concerted effort to communicate the need and challenge of finding quality candidates to fill the positions.
If the program is new, make an extra effort in the early phases to promote it – and showcase the benefits of participating, including status updates and any new elements, rewards, etc.
Finally, make it easy for employees to take part. This could mean simply using a slip, like the one below, or it could mean using a technology solution that can do it for you, like MightyRecruiter.
Step 3: Evaluate, modify, enhance.
The final key to success is understanding how the program is working – the number of referrals, the percentage of employees participating, the cost/savings – and how it relates to the goals you have for the program. Once you understand the current state, consider making changes and improvements based on performance and feedback.