Gamification for employee referral programs

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Gamification. Everyone has heard of it but what does it mean exactly and how is it going to help solve our recruiting problems?
Simply put, gamification for employee referrals means using game mechanics to encourage employee participation in the referral process.

What are game mechanics?
Game mechanics appeal to a basic human need to achieve and to be recognized. Examples of game mechanics abound, including frequent flyer programs, Starbucks virtual points reward cards, and even Waze, a crowd-sourced commute optimization tool. Simply having different levels for people who use and interact with the platform raises their standing in a public manner to all their peers.

Why gamification?

  • 70% of large companies have implemented game mechanics in their workplaces.
  • 53% say use of game mechanics, feedback loops and rewards will increase between now and 2020. 

Why should you invest in employee referrals?

  • Employee referrals are the number one source of hire by volume (CareerXroads)
  • Employee referrals “provide a steady stream of high caliber candidates who are often those hard to find, ‘passive’ job seekers” (SHRM)
  • “Referred workers are substantially less likely to quit” 46% of referred employees are still likely to be in the business a year later, versus 33% who come in via a career site. (HaaS Berkeley)
  • “Employees hired through personal referrals have higher productivity, lower turnover, and lower screening costs” (Stanford)
  • 88% of employers say employee referrals are the #1 source of ‘above average candidates’ (Dr. John Sullivan)
  • Referred candidates are 40% more likely to be hired (The Federal Reserve)
  • On average, it takes just 10.4 referrals to lead to a hire (Oracle)
  • Employee referrals have the highest applicant to hire conversion rate. Facebook engineer reaches out and contact is 4x more likely to respond and 10x more likely to be hired. (Facebook)

With Teamable’s leaderboard, it’s easy to encourage friendly competition for referral based hiring.

Here are some additional steps you can implement in order to encourage and reward referral based hiring at your company:

  1. Understand and communicate the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of employees making referrals:
    • Intrinsic:
      • Helping the company recruit and hire the best talent
      • Helping a friend advance career
      • Working with a friend
    • Extrinsic:
      • Cash rewards
      • Product rewards
      • Experience rewards
        • Wine tasting
        • Dinner for two
  2. Paid vacation
  3. Public recognition
  4. Raffles
  5. First month: hold a raffle for all employees who have referred someone.
  6. Note: extrinsic rewards don’t have to be expensive, just fun! Consider points, levels, access or special privileges if you don’t have the budget for cash rewards, e.g. first pick of shifts, accounts, vacation days, or a much wanted parking spot.
  7. Reward quality over quantity.
    • Give points for the actions you value the most.
  8. Recognize effort.
  9. Make it fun.
  10. Give feedback.
    • Close the loop on all referrals.
  11. Encourage team participation.
    • Give a collective reward to office or department that makes the most qualified referrals.
  12. Give back to community.
    • Once a quarter, let employees choose a charity or social goal.
  13. Set monthly goals and share progress.
  14. Surprise employees!
    • Hold random company raffles for employees with qualifying points in a place like the lobby where you’re most likely to draw a crowd.
  15. Offer special prizes for referrals for hard to fill roles.
    • Get company focused on crowdsourcing these roles. Teamable makes it easier.

Finally, just get started! Everyone needs to begin somewhere. You don’t need to overthink the launch in order to begin reaping the benefits of gamifying your referral program.

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