Referrals attract and retain talent

06 September 2018

Attracting and retaining talent in today’s marketplace has become a mission statement of sorts in recent years. As much as we talk about the skilled-worker shortage, we still can’t address it enough.


Photo Credit: CICB 

Fortunately, as more of us across construction and specialized transport continue to seek answers to the question of how do we attract and secure the best workers for our business, the information we’re able to share with one another grows, and we become stronger in our efforts as a result.

An example would be in trucking – where driver and technician shortages, combined with the overall absence of interested workers, has created hiring complexities for companies industry-wide in such a way that couldn’t have been imagined just a couple decades ago.

But the efforts of many companies to meet this problem head on and push through has also produced some noteworthy, and hopefully productive, insights as of late. As Kevin Nelson, vice president at, recently pointed out, the retention rate of employees that come to you after being referred by one of your existing employees is, on average, 2.7 years compared to 1.5 years.

Speaking at a recent NationaLease meeting, Nelson emphasized that employee referrals result in the best applicant-to-hire ratio at 1 out of 10 versus 1 out of 18 from all other sources. Additionally, the time companies typically take to make an offer to a new hire referred by an existing employee sits at around 20 days, versus around 40 days for candidates hired through a job board.

Walk the walk

Nelson also described some strategy steps geared towards setting up an employee referral program.

First, he said, decide who among your workforce would be eligible for the program, and articulate to them how the process is going to work and what your expectations are. Don’t forget to include reward amounts and payout timeframe and structure.

Next, you’ll want to make sure you have a proper tracking system in place, indicating where the lead came from, so the right employees get credit for a job well done. Nelson also mentioned the value of executive involvement in such a program, citing, “The CEO should be the company’s biggest recruiter/advocate. Send out communications prior to launching the program. Consider having a launch party to build excitement. Follow up with post-launch communications that talk about the program and its successes.”

Joel dandrea

Joel Dandrea, Chief Executive Officer, SC&RA.

Obviously, continue to promote the program early and often – which can be accomplished through emails, texts, social media and more. And new hires, if applicable, shouldn’t be left out of the equation. They should already be excited at the overall opportunity and could be a great source of promotion and evangelism.

Most important, Nelson pointed out, is walking the walk. Pay up. And if more than one employee recommended a new hire, simply split the reward fairly. As productive a strategy as this program could be, it can be equally destructive the moment your workers decide you’re either unreliable, dishonest or both. So, don’t break promises – and to that end, make a point to sincerely acknowledge the folks who have worked hard to help enhance the company’s workforce. They’ll certainly enjoy the extra money, but they’ll genuinely appreciate the thanks.

A final insight: some of your best young employees are more likely to have built out relationships with other like-minded individuals over time – who themselves might be looking for a job this very minute. Provide your employees with the capability to share open positions to their social media accounts.

Social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook stand strong as some of the most powerful tools available to recruiters today, and with millennials becoming the largest generation in the workforce, programs that allow

employees to automate job postings to populate their news feed is an easy way to get them on board, and get employer branding in front of job seekers in the place they are looking most.


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