Tag Archives: employee referral programs

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Gamification for Recruiting

Director of Interactive Branding Jason Ginsburg explains what gamification is and how HR professionals can use it for recruiting, onboarding, training, and employee referral programs.

Register for Jason’s FREE webinar, Socialize Your Talent Strategy, presented Monday, April 29, at HR.com.

Game On for Employee Gamification

While speaking at a recent HR conference in Vegas, I had occasion to meet Jane McGonigal, game designer, speakerauthor, and probably the world’s biggest advocate for gamification, the idea of adding game incentives like points and prizes to non-game activities.  

While within the HR community gamification is still catching on (I find a number of my clients don’t even know recognize the word) gaming, in all forms, is incredibly popular. When the latest Call of Duty video game was released in November, one in four workers called in sick. Look at it from a productivity standpoint: The amount of hours it took to create all of Wikipedia’s content in 12 years…is spent every three weeks playing Angry Birds

During Jane’s keynote speech, she cited the 2012 Gallup study that found that 71% of American employees aren’t fully engaged in their work, making it “impossible to innovate” and costing $30 billion in lost productivity annually. 

Infographic courtesy of Gigya

It’s no surprise that she believes gamification can help. Evidently she’s
not alone. A study by gamification company Gigya showed that gamification increases website engagement by 29%, website commenting by 13%, and social media sharing by 22%. Here are some recent employee gamification success stories.

Motivating employees
Risk Management Services recently turned an internal re-branding into
a trading card game. “Another email or intranet page just wasn’t going to get employees on board,” Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement Amelia Merrill told IABC. “
This contest was fun and different from anything we have ever done.” Merrill said the initiative was a “smashing success.”
Orientation and onboarding
Recruitment marketing agency Maximum recently won a Creative Excellence Award for Best Interactive Media for its Deloitte China Virtual Tour campaign. Maximum virtually mapped Deloitte’s offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, allowing job-seekers to explore every department – and get a firsthand look at what working at Deloitte China is really like. More than 20,000 job-seekers took part in the tour’s game feature, Green Dot Mission, and shared their scores on China’s most popular social networks.

Health and wellness
Aetna recently partnered with social media company Mindbloom to create an enhanced version of Mindbloom’s Life Game, an online social game for personal wellness. Players grow an on-screen tree by attaining personal goals, ranging from health to relationships to finances. According to Forbes, activities include “substituting water for soda, taking the stairs to the office, cleaning your room each day, or simply thanking a friend.” Players earn virtual rewards while making progress in their real lives.

Employee referrals
Just last month, Herd Wisdom launched Most Wanted, a mobile app that gamifies the employee referral process. How? “Every action – from choosing an avatar to sharing a job posting – earns points and get participants in the running to win giveaways from Herd Wisdom,” the
company says. The game offers “instant gratification,” since employees can earn points and prizes before they refer anyone, and features funny animated scenes to keep them engaged. Mobile apps like Most Wanted turn social sharing and mobile gaming, which just about everyone likes, into a talent pipeline for any company.

Are you ready to gamify your careers site, social recruiting channels, employee referral program, or other HR initiatives? Contact Brandemix and it’s game on.

Bonus Reel: How to Ruin Your Employee Referral Program

A follow-up to our popular article about employee referral programs

How to Ruin Your Employee Referral Program

According to CareerXroads, 28% of external hires in 2011 were referrals, and that
number gets even larger when you factor in internal referrals. An employee
referral program is a fantastic way to find talent that fits your culture while
strengthening your employer brand with your current workers. It decreases cost
per hire, time to hire, and turnover.
But just as there are many ways to create an effective ERP, there are plenty of
ways to screw it up. Here are the most popular ones – make sure you avoid them.

Forget about 
We’ve all seen this happen to company initiatives. Management makes a big
announcement, holds a splashy launch event, and then…nothing. No reminders, no
follow-ups, no mention of a deadline. No one announces the winners – if there
are any. Eventually, the program dies a quiet death. To avoid this pitfall,
give the program a catchy name with a slogan that reflects your employer brand
(like we did for Kaplan, below). Announce winners and new hires as soon as
possible, and give regular reminders to employees. Some workers respond to
scorecards and leaderboards, which can be real or virtual.
Kaplan ERP image

Don’t help employees.
It’s not enough to just tell your workers, “Go talk to your friends!” You have to give them support. Create badges they can post on their Facebook pages, provide short links to use on Twitter, and give them YouTube videos they can send in an email. You can even give them actual cards or certificates to hand out; they’ll feel like Santa Claus. Guarantee interviews for all referrals, so employees know their friends will make the first cut. And if your careers site is boring or complicated, create a
microsite just for the program

Make it complicated.
You’re asking employees to spend their free time helping you, so why make it
complicated? Strict or obscure rules – like “the referral should not have worked
for a competitor in the last three years” – discourage employees. Some
organizations forbid managers or the entire HR department from participating,
which just creates envy and dissent. And don’t make employees wait too long for
their reward; how excited would you be if you had won $100…which you’ll get after the new hire has worked for 90 days and then two pay periods later?
Party blowers

Give pathetic rewards.
You’re saving potentially thousands of dollars on a hire, so you can give more than a
$25 gift card to the employee who went and above and beyond to improve the
team. Publicize the winners to through every internal channel so that other
employees will want to double their efforts. If you can’t award large payouts
or flashy prizes, there are plenty of low-cost alternatives, such as a premium
parking space, lunch with the CEO, or extra/preferential vacation time. No
matter what the prize, make the employee feel special and appreciated, which
helps not only the ERP but your organization’s morale as well.
And don’t forget to promote the ERP externally, to all your brand’s fans, customers, and applicants. Also, give feedback to employees whose referrals didn’t get hired, so they’ll know what to look for in the future.
Employee referral programs turn your employees into brand ambassadors externally and generate team spirit internally. They’re cost-effective and increase the odds
of creating the culture you want in your workplace. Avoid these mistakes and
you’ll be well on your way – but if you need additional help, we at Brandemix
are experts.
And we’d love to hear from you.

The XYZ’s of ERP’s

Don’t Derail your Best Source of External Hires: 5 Surefire ways to screw up your Employee Referral Program

It’s no surprise that CareerXroads’ 8th Annual Source of Hire Study finds Employee Referrals are the best, most cost effective sources of external hires. I was surprised to learn that 31% of the 45 participating companies (all with 5000+ employees) claimed to make 1 hire for every 1-4 referrals. That’s pretty impressive.

It’s been well-documented that people (employees, vendors, alumni etc) make more qualified referrals because the people they refer are seen as reflections of themselves. But Employee Referral Programs also contribute to reducing turnover. People that “sell” others on their company are also subliminally “re-selling” themselves by continually reciting all the reasons they like working there. It keeps the Employer Value Propositions top of mind.

Successful employee referrers also contribute to creating a better internal culture. Chances are, they’ve just received a sweet wad of cash for successfully recommending their friend or former colleague, and now the two may be found happily exchanging productive ideas or work anecdotes at happy hour.

So why would HR want to mess with such a sure-fire formula? While no one would ever admit to intentionally thwarting the almost guaranteed efforts of a referral program, I’ve seen it happen time and again when consulting with major companies. Instead of going for the win-win, the program flounders.

Here’s how yours can too:

1. Don’t give employees selling tools
2. Keep them guessing about the status of their referral
3. Make referral rewards as small as possible, and make employees wait forever to get them
4. Overcomplicate the process of referring candidates
5. Set it and forget it

I’m sure your own company’s program doesn’t share any commonality with the list above. Here’s what’s considered best-practice:

1. Accentuate the positives. Don’t just wait for award season- over-communicate what makes your company a great place to work and break it down by geography, discipline or compared to your greatest rival. Send messages out as frequently as possible, and put together an integrated strategy that combines an online toolkit with table-tents in the cafeteria. Make sure your employees are the first point in the communications cascade for all your Press Releases and open-to-fill so they have an understanding of business strategy and talent needs.

2. Don’t forget to say “thank you.” Keep referrers in the loop about where their candidate is in the process. No one likes the black hole. The best-in-class employee referral programs offer a small incentive just for referring someone- even if their referral isn’t hired. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but hopefully it’s something that can stand out in the workplace- like a branded jar of candy- to get people hungry for one of their own.

3. Pay a bonus worth giving. Employee referral bonuses might range anywhere from below $500 to above $5,000 depending on the difficulty level in finding the candidate. It doesn’t have to be the same reward (or even a cash reward) for every level – you can tier prizes for exempt/non-exempt and even “heat-up” the prize at mission critical times. Think about how much you would pay a recruiter for finding you a candidate. While it may be higher than you’d pay someone internally, be generous. And pay out half on the referree’s hire date and half at the 3 month anniversary. Don’t be a buzz-kill and make people wait a year for $100.

4. KISS (Keep it simple stupid) Tie referrals into your ATS and keep your rules and regulations to a single page (or virtual equivalent). Signatures and special forms just slow things down.

5. Make your program fun and refresh often. There are so many fun ways of engaging everyone collectively around employee referrals. Posters, pay stuffers, online widgets, social networking badges, screensavers and quarterly drawings are just a few of the things you can incorporate into your program. Send out a notice with the offer letter and galvanize the spirit of your new hire by letting them become your company’s brand ambassador.

If you’ve already got the basics down, consider these suggestions to turn up the heat:

  • Open your program to external sources- Pay awards to friends of friends- people who know people but may not be employees.
  • Donate to my favorite charity- Enable employees’ bonuses go directly into their charity of choice.
  • Tier it up- Add quarterly bonus drawings and increase the prize based on total referrals for the period. This is a sure-fire way to get everyone working together.

The tangible and intangible benefits from a successful employee referral should make revamping yours first on your to-do list. BRANDEMiX can help.

Crest Brushes Up Tagline with Help from YouTube

Obviously P&G didn’t read my blog post from 12/3/07 from or they would know that the tagline is dead. In another example of how brands are trying to engage with consumers, use social media and save money from ad agency fees:

With the introduction of its fourth flavor, Wintergreen Ice, Crest is asking YouTube fans to come up with the brand’s new slogan.

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 17, consumers can submit videos featuring their take on the brand in 10 words or less. The winning phrase will be incorporated in upcoming TV spots advertising the new flavor.

TV spots running next month show Chef Emeril Lagasse and a panel of judges evaluating contestants as they perform their catch phrase American Idol-style. “We’re looking for the best catch phrase for Crest Whitening Expressions “.

This isn’t really that newsworthy. In addition to Crest’s contest, there are several others you can participate in. Don’t believe me? Just go to YouTube, click on Community and see for yourself.
The implications in the world of human resources can be fun– BRANDEMiX suggests your next employee referral can be your employee AND their referral selling themselves on their attributes. Need to understand your Employee Value Proposition? BRANDEMiX suggests you follow new hires from their interview through onboarding and then check back in with them in 60, 90 and 120 days. (With their consent of course.)

Contests and prizes have a way of building teams, bonding people and sharing love.

If you have no plans for next week’s Labor Day slowdown- maybe you want to get out the video camera. In fact, I gotta go- Nestle’s might give me $10,000