Employees are the best recruiters

Discussion
Jul 20, 2018

According to the “2018 Reputation Management Study” from MRINetwork, employee referrals (cited by 59 percent) are the most popular way job candidates seek to evaluate employers, outdoing even company websites (56 percent).

Employees can have an impact beyond direct referrals, too. More candidates rely on Glassdoor or similar sites (38 percent), where employees review companies, than on media coverage (24 percent) when evaluating prospective employers.

Finally, candidates are more apt to judge employer brands on the basis of employee testimonials (28 percent) than to look at the company’s career site (21 percent), marketing materials (19 percent) or social media (19 percent).

Employee reviews have become much more accessible with the growth of sites such as Glassdoor.com that enable former and current employees to review their companies. According to Glassdoor’s recently released “Top 100 2018 Best Places to Work” survey, Lululemon was the top retailer at six on the list. Other retailers making the cut included H-E-B, 20; Wegmans, 49; Nike, 53; REI, 61; Trader Joe’s, 70; J. Crew, 75; Apple, 84; and Starbucks, 96.

Scott Dobroski, a Glassdoor community expert, told USA Today that the three top drivers of long-term employee satisfaction are company culture, career opportunities and trust in senior leadership.

Employee referrals are an old-school but often neglected recruitment tool. According to a Humetrics blog entry, Mel Kleiman, president and a RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, writes that referrals who are hired are more likely to be above average performers and stay on board longer because they already have a friend or acquaintance on the staff.

His tips for making referrals from employees more effective include:

  • Shrinking the “circle of people you ask about” by specifically asking whether anybody from their church, neighborhood, school, last job, etc. would be a good fit;
  • Teaching employees how to best present the pros and cons of a prospective job; 
  • Letting them know any recommendation that doesn’t work isn’t their fault and will never be held against them;
  • Remind employees that people whose names they share will likely be flattered, even if they’re not interested.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Have employee referrals, reviews and/or testimonials become more important recruitment tools for retailers? If so, why? In what ways can retailers garner good word-of-mouth from employees?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Securing employee referrals, reviews and testimonials has always been an important recruitment strategy but social media has made it vital."
"Employee referrals are huge. The Container Store has been doing this for years."
"Employee referrals and testimonials are the “product reviews” of a company. These can make or break recruiting efforts and cost a company good faith."

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7 Comments on "Employees are the best recruiters"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

The retail industry has always had struggles with attracting and retaining good employees and things haven’t gotten any easier with a 4 percent unemployment rate. Securing employee referrals, reviews and testimonials has always been an important recruitment strategy but social media and the accessibility to information has made it vital. Retailers need to carefully cultivate and promote thoughtful, authentic narratives from existing employees and create incentives to encourage employees to refer friends and family who may be a good fit for the company.

Art Suriano
Guest
I have had discussions with many retailers about the need to take employee reviews seriously, mainly those on Glassdoor and Indeed but, unfortunately, too many of them do not. They feel that because many of those who write reviews are former employees who left the company unhappily, those commenters are just venting. Unfortunately, while is there is some truth to that, I have spoken with many employees seeking jobs and all of them say they look at Glassdoor and Indeed before applying. Retail leaders should read the reviews and take notice of the many opportunities they have to make employment better. It is true that many store associates complain about the wages but needs such as better scheduling, training, communication and opportunities can be improved quickly. When reading the reviews, one can soon get a sense of the company culture. My rule is to make sure the company listed on Glassdoor has a rating no lower than 3.0, and that at least 50 percent of the company would recommend them. It’s incredible how many retailers… Read more »
Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Employee referrals are the low cost approach to recruitment and employers should be nervous when their staff are not recommending their friends. The best employees should even be invited to suggest candidates as like tends toward like. An honorarium to the referring employee can show a retailer’s appreciation.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Employee referrals are huge. The Container Store has been doing this for years. And if you can create a great Employee Experience (EX), you’ll have similar results as when you create a great customer experience. You’ll get referrals, great word of mouth and employee goodwill. One idea: Treat employees the way you want your customers treated — maybe even better!

Ralph Jacobson
Guest

This has always been an underutilized recruitment tool. I like this approach. A proactive, intentional effort to solicit current employees to recruit new staff can lead to consistent performance and tenure of new hires overall. That’s huge for retail.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Employee referrals and testimonials are the “product reviews” of a company. These can make or break recruiting efforts and cost a company good faith, positive employee attitudes and money when they become negative. Keeping these positive and rewarding for all current and future employees should be one of the main HR and recruiting goals for any company in today’s retail (and other) environs. How this is accomplished reflects on management and some of the corporate mission goals for any organization. Great companies keep this as a key focus and are often rewarded. Using social media, employee camaraderie, special events, employee recognition and trying to create a fun and desirable work environment all contribute to this.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust
Evan Snively
Director of Planning & Loyalty, Moosylvania
3 years 10 months ago

At my last retail/service job at a microbrewery there was high turnover and an extremely high referral rate. Definitely pros and cons for the employer in this particular example.
Pros:

  • Quick fill rate when turnover occurred;
  • Lively work atmosphere with employees who genuinely enjoyed each others company which transferred to a high energy level with customers;
  • Network of people who were more inclined to cover shifts when in a pinch because it was seen as a favor to a friend more than an opportunity to grab extra hours;
  • The company became ingrained in that group’s collective identity and life story, creating powerful brand advocates.

Cons:

  • When one person in the group had a gripe with management it often had a halo effect — additional workers as employees were more loyal to their friends than they were to their employer;
  • Not enough diversity. When referrals come from “close tie” groups it tends to draw in more similar personalities.

PS: If you are even in St. Louis and a beer fan, check out Urban Chestnut Brewing Company — they do great work. Prost!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Securing employee referrals, reviews and testimonials has always been an important recruitment strategy but social media has made it vital."
"Employee referrals are huge. The Container Store has been doing this for years."
"Employee referrals and testimonials are the “product reviews” of a company. These can make or break recruiting efforts and cost a company good faith."

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