Leveraging Employee Referrals to Staff Remote Worksites

These days when you mention remote work to someone, they either think about working from home during the pandemic, or their mind often goes right to an oil platform in the Bering Sea. And while the Bering Sea is certainly remote, the reality is that most remote worksites aren’t anything like that. They are simply locations that aren’t near a big city.

Staffing remote locations can be tough. You’ll be working with a smaller local population that can be difficult to reach. If you’re staffing a new location or need to beef up an existing worksite, finding people can be a challenge. Conquering that challenge requires you to use the location and the people you have to your advantage. You want to be proactive in your staffing process. And you’ll want to build a referral program. You can get one resume a week through a website, but a referral can bring in five or ten. Referral programs can be a huge boon, but setting one up requires proactive thinking.

Be proactive and prepared. Whether you need to staff an existing facility or you’re planning to build a new one, you want to craft a referral program as early as possible. Use your preparation time to evaluate past efforts and prioritize the skills you’ll need to add to your team.

Companies also need to be prepared to promote their referral program internally. Presenting a well-thought-out referral program gives your workers the information they need to confidently share your initiative with their friends, family and professional network.

Launching or reintroducing an employee referral program is an opportunity to reinvigorate your workforce and create ambassadors. Use this time to clearly communicate to your current employees what makes working with your company worth the travel. The better prepared your workers are, the more effective they’ll be at promoting your openings.

Research your location. There’s more to understanding the location of your worksite than knowing the nearest interstate exit. Use your location as the basis for your job pitch. Can you offer higher wages than other employers in the area? Is the work non-seasonal, and can you offer better advancement opportunities compared to your leading competition in the area?

Research your location and figure out what sets you apart from nearby companies vying for similar talent. It’ll be easier to stand out when you know what options are available to local jobseekers.

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Build a program worth talking about. More than anything, your current employees will make or break your referral program. The key is to make sure that they want to refer their friends and family in the first place. To do that, the absolute best thing you can do is create a workplace that your employees love. A person will be less likely to ask a friend to work with them if they don’t like coming to work in the first place. And while you can’t change the job itself, make sure your employees feel safe and valued, and offer opportunities for advancement when possible.

There are other incentives to consider. A simple incentive is allowing employees to work with people they know. It’s that much more rewarding to refer a friend if you know you’ll be able to work with them if they’re hired.

Financial incentives can be very effective, and most successful referral programs involve them to some degree. You can keep it simple. Offer monetary bonuses to employees who refer people that get hired and stay on the job for a certain amount of time.

Tying in advancement can also work. It’s much easier to promote someone if they’re involved in hiring the people who will work under them.

All of this is trial and error to some degree, and you may not get it right on the first try. Still, making sure your employees enjoy working for you is the most important piece.

Staffing remote locations is all about knowledge. You need to know what you need, who you’re looking for, where they are and what you’re going to offer them. Proactive planning paired with an excellent referral program is the best way to avoid issues, hire excellent people and ensure that your worksite continues running smoothly.

Tony Sanzone
Anthony Sanzone is director of strategic sales at Aerotek.

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