What Global Mobility Managers Can Learn from Referral Programs

Who actually recommends the company they work for to a friend? It turns out it’s common in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In Northern California, it’s normal for friends to recommend their friends to their employers. This is because they also get an incentive or referral fee. Whether the friend performs as expected is not even a concern. One can ascribe this to the maturity of the HR people in Silicon Valley.  Why get blamed for recommending someone when you’re not the one who didn’t meet up to expectations?!

This is not yet the norm in other parts of the country. It may be for lower positions in the corporate totem pole but even in the Bay Area, referrals are all-too common, whether one is for entry-level jobs or top-level positions.

Of course, some people balk at the idea of recommending anyone to their employers for fear that their friends or contact will not perform as expected, and their own status or position in the company would put them in a compromising position.

Here are some referral strategies and thoughts for any company to test and analyze before introducing them to their employees:

  1. A referral proves one’s loyalty to the company

That an employee is referring someone to the company indicates one thing. He or she believes in and cares for the company. It may appear that he is helping his friend which can also be true, but for him to refer the prospective employee means that he also believes in the capability of the person he wants to bring in. He is showing his company loyalty.

  1. Show appreciation to employee for his or her referral

The referrer should certainly show appreciation. Extending a reward or incentive is critical. The company is also showing its loyalty to an employee who recommended the company to their friend or peer. Both sides — company and employee — get to strengthen their relationship in the process. How much is enough reward? In some companies, they give monetary or non-monetary incentives for the gracious deed.

  1. Referring someone to an employer helps keep ecosystem of trust.

Referring someone is never an easy decision but it helps to harness an ecosystem of trust. Trust helps in defining a company’s culture. In fact, it seems culture fit was borne from relationships made and forged by trust. In this sense, work becomes more manageable and easier to handle, because two people simply know how to work together.

  1. It’s more cost-effective for an employer

Hiring takes time and for startups too busy to be bothered, getting one employee to recommend another to join the team saves everyone a lot of time. It’s not unusual to find how some $20M startup company doesn’t have a human resources department — and more software engineers. The focus is on releasing products. When hiring for tech talents, for example, it’s harder to find out the good, experienced engineers from the inexperienced. An employee who recommends someone may have already worked with his referral.

  1. Make referrals an easy process

This should be a no-brainer. When making referrals, one should not be burdened by HR work or the employees will stop doing it. One only needs to give someone’s resume to the employer who should then make the necessary steps–phone call, interview, hiring. But more important, make sure to have complete job descriptions for a position, so your employee need not be the one explaining the job. It’s also vital that the employee is updated if someone they referred has been hired or not.

  1. Create a system of proper referral approaches

Establish a referral system so people can simply follow it. If there is no system in place yet, look at these points below to see if there is a need to develop one or suggest to global mobility managers whose lives could be made easier by such a system.

  • Convey the criticality of recruitment for a particular position
  • Spread the program to one and all, across hierarchies
  • Showcase a successful referral
  • Create a “contest” to promote a referral program
  • Tap leading corporate housing providers like California Corporate Housing for its network of global and local guests in Silicon Valley

Finally, survey employees to find out what prompted them to refer and what suggestions they have to improve your referral program.