With the U.S. recession slowly receding from the public sector, hiring practices are beginning to return to normal - but with a few new twists. Although job postings and resume-collecting techniques are still helpful in gathering pools of potential candidates, referral programs are making a comeback. Employees who are proud enough of their workplaces to tell their friends and family members to apply can typically be trusted to only give you the names of people who will fit the dynamic well. While this doesn't mean that you can't find new hires the old-fashioned way, the following small business tips for developing a modern referral program are worth exploring.
Trust in the opinions of your employees
The first thing to keep in mind as you build a referral program is that your employees are the lifeblood of your brand. They are the ones who are on the front lines, building your business with their every action, and it's typically their expertise that keeps you afloat. For that reason, a lot of your future referral program should be founded in trust. Who better than your staff to pick out people who might work well with your company?
Incentivize their efforts
The job of recruiting can be tough. When you're working full-time and trying to keep the rest of your life in order, the idea of going out into the world to build your business can be a daunting one. Now superimpose this task onto your staff members. Although they'll likely be selecting from within a group of trusted peers and confidants, they're still running the risk of disappointing you with whom they select. This is where a list of incentives can help waylay these concerns.
Extra compensation is always appreciated, but if you don't have that kind of capital, then consider alternative methods of showing your in-house recruiters you care. Paid days off, for instance, are easy enough to coordinate. A free lunch voucher to a nearby restaurant and some form of public recognition, such as a company email or a small quarterly award ceremony, are also good ways to pay someone back for delivering a top-notch referral.
Get the ball rolling
Even though the economy is on an upward trajectory, there's still a ways to go before employees feel safe again to take risks in the workplace. For that reason, it might seem a little off-putting to suggest a referral program in the middle of everything else they're doing. By establishing a sense of urgency, however, you'll likely see more activity when it counts. As holidays come and go, for instance, you might see a swell in your business. During that period of high-volume activity, having a few extra hands on deck might make all the difference. In keeping with the above point, you might consider increasing the incentive around this period of time, all in an effort to keep things moving along. Who knows? Even if you're only hiring for holiday help, you might find another potential manager along the way.
Have a little fun
Serious recruits are the goal, and it's important to build your staff with people who are willing to go the distance, but try not to let your referral strategy become just another work-related program. Try build a little fun into the process. For instance, what's the harm in making T-shirts with your company logo on them? Mugs, pens, notebooks and planners are also good for getting the word out. You can even premiere the referral program as a launch party, passing out the paraphernalia as another incentive for enticing growth.