By Neelie Verlinden

‘Yeah right’, we hear you think, ‘Really’? Well, maybe not always, but most of the time yes, they are the best recruiters you could wish for. You may remember our post on turning applicants into brand ambassadors (and if you don’t, you can go here). It turns out the same thing goes for your employees: if you have a happy workforce, every single one of them basically is a walking advertisement for your company and brand. Now what more could you wish for in this day and age, where recruitment often is one of HR’s biggest challenges? Nothing indeed, but for those of you not yet convinced we’ll give you 7 reasons why your employees are the best recruiters.

#1 Higher Quality

People that have been referred via your employees tend to be high quality. Or higher than the average – non referred – candidates anyway. Why? Because when you’re the one putting your reputation on the line by referring someone, you’re very likely to make sure your candidate is good. It’s this kind of ‘pre-screening’ done by your employees – not only on skills, but also on culture fit – that often results in high quality applicants.

#2 Less Expensive

Money matters, so if there is a way to do things more profitable – and potentially better as well – you go for it. Rather than paying a lot of money for an external recruitment agency, or to advertise your job openings, try to tap into that one source of applicants that’s in front of you already: your employees network of friends, family, old colleagues and what not. Put in place a decent Employee Referral Programme (ERP) with a reward for your employees (if their referrals get hired) that actually makes them want to go out and find that perfect candidate. Knowing that the quality of referrals in general is higher, while the cost is lower, having an Employee Referral Programme should be a no-brainer for every company.

For some original referral bonus ideas – think Portugese food and a motorbike – go here.

#3 Great Energy

This works for your employees as well as their referrals (if they get hired of course). Imagine you’ve referred a friend and he or she ends up getting the job. What a great feeling is that, you helped your friend find a job! From the referred person’s perspective, they enter the company being connected already. Not only do they know their friend/former colleague/family member that made the referral, chances are they’ve met some of the other employees before as well. They’re not complete strangers on the day they start their new job, which helps them in feeling part of the ‘family’.

#4 Higher Retention Rate

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Given some of the above – the higher quality and the great energy – it makes sense that referred candidates are likely to stay longer in their job. They’ve had their ‘pre-selection’ done by a friend or someone else they know, who made sure to double check if the person they were going to refer would fit in the company culture. We’ve spoken about the importance of culture fit before, underlining the fact that if someone doesn’t fit in your organisation’s culture, it is very unlikely that one day they will. If you want to read more about this, go here.

What’s interesting to know is that not only is there a higher retention rate among referrals, if you have an ERP in place, it may very well lead to an increased retention rate among your current workforce too. The reason being is that in order to refer someone, your employees will probably have a good think about why your organisation is such a cool place to work. In the end this may lead to them being more loyal to the company and wanting to stay longer.

#5 Good Source for Passive Candidates

Sometimes it seems as if the best candidates for the job are already in a job. Clearly you won’t be able to speak to these people as easily. This is where your employees might save the day (again). Because if you’re in a job, happily enough and enjoying what you do, you’re probably not even thinking about going elsewhere. And then you speak with a good friend who is raving about the company he or she works for, telling you they’re hiring and that you might be perfect for the role. You really like your friend – obviously – and you know that you guys have a lot in common and that you share the same values. In that case you’re likely to think ‘Why not give it a try and go for an initial chat’. And this is how having an Employe Referral Programme can open up this whole new pool of passive candidates.

#6 Celebrate Your Employees

Employee engagement is super important, we don’t need to tell you that. We wrote a post about how HR tech drives employee engagement a few weeks ago, you can click here if you want to read more about it. What this has to do with employee referrals? More than you think. Relying on employee referrals is like saying ‘You know us better than anyone. You know exactly what we stand for, we trust you completely with our most important task – finding the right people’ to your employees. It’s one of the most powerful ways of showing your workforce you appreciate and trust them.

#7 Easier to Find Specialists

This one is very similar to #5. People often ‘hang out’ with similar people, or are somehow connected anyhow. The same goes for the different specialists you have in your workforce. Chances are they know quite a few people in their area of expertise that work for other companies. As is often the case with experts and specialist work, it’s not very easy to find good candidates. All the more reason to tap into every possible source, and employee referrals could be a massive help here.

A Final Thought

Of course, we’re not suggesting you put all your eggs in one basket. There are numerous different recruitment channels you can use, so why not test a few of them. Not using employee referrals at all however, is something we don’t really understand. Why wouldn’t you? When it comes to recruiting the right people, surely you can use all the help you can get? Especially if that help brings you better quality candidates while increasing employee happiness and retention levels at the same time… Like we said before, it’s a no-brainer.