Some people I talk to generate dang-good results from their employee-referral programs without shelling out much money — some not even spending a penny.
Tom Mazzocco, for instance. He’s the VP of HR for the San Diego Convention Center. The center recruits from Jobing, Craigslist, Monster, CareerBuilder, military bases, and other sources (like when it needed a Greek-speaker and just headed over to a local Greek restaurant and talked to the manager about bringing one of his employees onboard for a while). Anyhow, the convention center brings in about 40-45% of its hires via referrals, which isn’t bad when you consider it pays nothing for a referral.
And then there’s AmTrust Bank, one of the ERE award-winners this year. The more I look at AmTrust’s three-year employee-referral increase (graphed below), the more I’m wowed. AmTrust pulled out all stops to increase referrals (something that’s explored in-depth in the May Journal, by the way), including donating money to charities for employees (such as recruiters) who provided referrals but aren’t eligible for money, as well as giving time off to the first team of people to reach 100% participation in the referral program. AmTrust pays up to $5,000 for the hardest-to-fill jobs.
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In the end, it’s not money that makes a referral program work, as Mazzocco showed. But, as AmTrust’s charts below demonstrate, sometimes it can’t hurt.