Enhance Your Employee Referral Program with Gamification

stk18760dleEmployee referrals are a method you may already use in your recruitment strategy. In addition to streamlining the recruitment process, referrals are noted as the No. 1 source of hire and retention. Plus, 43 percent of employees from referrals stay longer than three years, while only 14 percent of job board hires stay longer than three years. But, are there ways to boost your referral program as you move into 2014? Absolutely — and it starts with gamification.

Gamification in referral programs involves using the thinking, learnings, and mechanics from games to increase engagement in non-game systems, which in this case are referral programs. In 2014, 70 percent of global 2,000 organizations will implement some sort of game mechanics into their workplaces. Companies like Deloitte, IBM, and SAP have already jumped aboard the gamification bandwagon. Shouldn’t you do the same?

When you’re ready to get started, check out this month-by-month guide to enhance your employee referral program with gamification:

Month 1: Hold a referral raffle. Creating an incentive to get people involved right away is a great method to boost initial participation. Holding a “referral raffle” creates buzz, while also bringing attention to your program. For example, let’s say you had a leaderboard that awarded points to employees who bring in referrals. Those who reach 100 points in your leaderboard gain the chance at winning prizes like an iPad, a day off, or an employee parking space.

Month 2: Implement autoposting. Autoposting helps your employees to remember to participate in your referral program. For example, because the majority of your employees won’t think to share jobs on their social networks, autoposting does the work for them. Through autoposting, employees can choose the rate at which they post jobs, as well as which networks to post them on.

Where does gamification play a role, though? Think about rewarding those who implement autoposting on their social networks. A small prize or social recognition are ways to encourage participation.

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Month 3: Reward top participants. As you enter the third month of your employee referral program, it’s a good a idea to recognize those who are doing especially well. For those who are putting in the effort and climbing up the referral leaderboard, offer prizes such as a dinner for two or concert tickets as a way to thank them for their hard work, as well as encourage others to do the same.

Month 4: Reward outstanding efforts. In your fourth month, reward outstanding referral efforts. These come not in quantity, but quality. While getting a list of applicants is great, it’s far better to receive those who are well-fit for your organization. Reward outstanding efforts by giving away a raffle ticket for every qualified applicant that an employee submits. At the end of the fourth month, raffle a $500 gift card, as well as announce the winner publicly. This brings in better leads and increases the chances the employee can win big at the end of the month.

Month 5: Create redeemable leaderboard rewards points. Allow your leaderboard points to be redeemable for prizes this month. Different levels will yield different prizes. For instance, if an employee has 1,000 points, they can nab some company gear, such as a mug or a T-shirt. If they have 20,000 they could be eligible for a company product or service. This allows your employees to “buy” more items as they increase efforts.

Month 6: Encourage teamwork. Employee referral programs don’t have to be one-sided. Teamwork is possible, especially when you use gamification. A great way to do this is to create a social competition between departments or locations and reward top participants. For example, hold a contest where the winner is determined by highest number of average points per employee. If there isn’t a point system in place however, use determinants like highest number of qualified leads. Prizes can include a group outing or a half-day. This method encourages collaboration, as opposed to just competition.

Month 7: Say “thank you” for every interview. In month seven, reward everyone who brings in an interviewed candidate. This is a simple way to say “thank you” for referral efforts. Prizes can range from an iTunes gift card, to movie tickets, to even small cash rewards. Plus, if you give out these tangible “thank you’s” during a company outing or meeting, everyone will see who’s winning — and what they have to do to get on the same level.

Month 8: Offer an out-of-the-box reward. By month eight, you may have given out similar rewards. Amp up prizes this month by going out-of-the-box! For example, an all expenses paid vacation for every hire made this month can create some big buzz around your referral program. Plus, who wouldn’t want a trip to an exotic land or historical city? Your employees will be more inclined to participate since the prize is more attractive.

Months 9-11: Hold a quarterly contest. Holding a contest over a quarterly period will breath new life into your referral program. After eight months, there will certainly be high scorers in your leaderboard, so think about filtering your leaderboard by time. That is, hold a contest that involves obtaining the most points in a three-month period. This will allow new participants to rev up their efforts and seasoned referrers to keep the momentum going.

Month 12: Give donations for referrals. In your last month, make your referrals all about donations. Giving back to the community is a great way to promote the referral process, especially since efforts will positively contribute to a charitable organization. For every referral that you receive, promise to donate to Toys for Tots, The Red Cross, or any other organization of your choice. This will encourage participation, especially since it’s for a good cause.

While this month-by-month plan is a good starting point, use it as a guide to enhance your employee referral program with gamification. Remember to take the past results and evaluate for the year ahead to ensure you’re producing the best referral program yet.

What do you think? What are some other ways to enhance your employee referral program with gamification?

MORE: The rise of gamification

Ziv Eliraz
Ziv Eliraz is founder and CEO of Zao, a social employee referral management platform. Connect with Ziv and Zao on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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  1. […] Employee referrals are a method you may already use in your recruitment strategy. In addition to streamlining the recruitment process, referrals are noted as the No. 1 source of hire and retention.  […]

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