Employee Referral Program Guidelines for Healthcare Facilities

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have proposed legislation that would require 24/7 Registered Nurse coverage two years after approval of the federal staffing mandate for urban healthcare facilities, with another year granted for rural providers. 

This mandate will triple the current coverage standard and is expected to place even more strain on assisted living facilities experiencing an ongoing labor shortage. While healthcare led job creation last month, there aren’t enough workers to fill these open positions. 

One of the best ways to boost your pipeline of candidates and fill your open roles with great healthcare talent faster is by leveraging your existing employees’ networks through an employee referral program.

In fact, among Hireology customers, applicants referred by existing employees are four times as likely to become hires than applicants sourced via other channels — including job boards. Referred candidates are, on average, hired faster, stay longer, and are more engaged with their employers than traditional candidates. 

A great referral program doesn’t just fill your facility’s open roles — it drives retention too. Turnover is high in the healthcare industry as a whole due to the demanding nature of the work. Burnout is a real threat to keeping top talent engaged and on your team. But if your employees know their coworkers and enjoy working with them, they’re much more likely to stick around longer.

However, most facilities know this. The problem you face is getting people to actually participate in your program so you can generate real ROI. So how do you build a program that actually motivates folks to participate? 

5 steps to build an employee referral program for your facility

A great facility referral program requires intention and strategy. You need to be strategic about how you build your program, how much you decide to pay out per position, how you promote the program internally, and more. Plus, all of this needs to be tailored to the needs of your unique employee base.

1 Define your employee referral program policy

For your first step, you need to document your program’s guidelines. That includes everything from submission guidelines to any eligibility requirements. Questions you need to ask yourself include:

  • Do employees need to use certain channels to submit a referral?
  • Does referring a friend in passing count as an official referral?
  • Can managers participate?
  • Can folks refer a former employee or a family member?

You want every aspect of the program to be clear so that people know exactly how to officially submit a referral, when they’ll receive payouts, who is eligible for participation, and more. Your goal here is to reduce the amount of gray area in the program, as this will deter people from participating.

2 Decide on your referral reward amount

Choosing the right referral reward amount is vital to driving engagement and maximizing ROI of the program. Rewards that are too low will deter participation, while rewards that are too high will be costly for you in the long run.

In the healthcare space, the average reward payout is anywhere from $500 – $5,000, depending on the position being filled. For easier-to-fill, high volume roles like certified nursing assistants (CNAs), that amount will be on the lower end. But for harder-to-fill roles that are more specialized, like Director of Nursing, you want to aim for the higher end. Your facility can pay this out in several installments, such as half when the new hire starts and the other half after 90 days of employment.

3 Promote your referral program

People won’t participate in your program if they don’t know about it. You need to clearly communicate the guidelines of the program, your open roles, and the payout amounts through the channels that your employees pay the most attention to. In the hospitality space, this could mean relying on physical signage in high-traffic areas like break rooms and at the nurses station. You could also consider texting employees so they can see the information on their phones when they leave for the day or they’re on a break.

Also: remember that most people need to hear something multiple times before it sinks in. Share any and all messages about your program multiple times — even if it feels like you’re repeating yourself.

4 Make referral submission easy

Nothing deters your team from participating in referral programs than a time-consuming process. If they’re asked to download an app, remember a password, or complete a form with a dozen fields, they are more likely to give up. Instead, make submission as easy as responding to a text or participating in an online chat. For example, with Hireology’s built-in referral technology, anyone who clicks the URL to submit a referral is talent to a chatbot where they simply respond with their referral’s name and contact information — that’s it! The chatbot is mobile-friendly too, so it’s really easy to navigate on the go.

You can make it even easier for your staff to participate by turning your submission URLs into QR codes. With these, your employees won’t have to type in a URL on their phones or wait until they get back to the nurses station. They can simply scan the code as they walk by, submit their referral’s contact information, and then move on with their day.

5 Track referral candidates and payout timing

Finally, it’s important to keep your word when it comes to your referral program. That means actually vetting the referral candidates you source through your program and paying the correct referral bonuses on time. Of course, it’s easy to forget to follow up on candidates and make your reward payments if you’re tracking your program via spreadsheets or emails. Instead, invest in tools like Hireology Referrals that allow you to track these candidates alongside the rest of your pipeline and notify you when payments are due.

Referrals are a top source of talent for good reason — but employee referral programs don’t yield results without strategy and effort. Take the time now to rejuvenate your program at your facility to start building your referral pipeline today so you can successfully meet the proposed mandates, should they go into effect. Of course, all of this is much easier to execute once you have a centralized tool for sending referral campaigns, tracking candidates, remembering bonus payouts, and more like Hireology Referrals. Want to see this powerful platform in action for yourself? Take a self-guided tour today!



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