Looking for a new way to source Gen Y talent? Consider optimizing your employee referral program.

Employee referral programs encourage existing staff to help recruitment teams discover qualified external candidates for open opportunities.

By leveraging the connection between a Gen Y employee and their extended network, recruiters are able to expand their talent pipeline, recruit higher-quality candidates and ensure overall “fit”.

Think of it this way: Gen Y is peer-oriented, meaning they place a lot of value on the opinions of those in their generational cohort. When an employee talks to a friend about your employer brand, they’re able to impart trusted, first-hand knowledge and equip a prospective candidate with the understanding they need to assess their interest and make an informed decision about applying.

They feel confident in their decision to apply to your organization, and you have enthusiastic, hot leads in your talent pipeline.

How do I encourage Gen Y to participate in the program?

In order to drum up Gen Y employee interest in your referral program, you need to focus on what’s in it for them.

Start by rewarding every staff member who refers quality candidates to your team (not just the ones who are hired-on). In order for your program to be successful, you need to backup your request for referrals with incentives – this will play into Gen Y’s desire to help, but also be rewarded for their efforts.

Try implementing a reward scale that’s dependant on how far the referee makes it through the hiring process. Ideas could include a small gift-card for staff who refer candidates who make it to the interview, or a financial bonus for staff able to refer someone who successfully completes onboarding/works for more than 3 months.

Next, recognize great referrals with a personalized thank you from your team. Write a handwritten note or post a special status on your organization’s internal social platform for everyone to see – recognition is a part of everyday life for Gen Y and they love to feel appreciated, especially for going above and beyond what’s expected of them in the workplace.

Discussion: Does your organization have an employee referral program?