As outlined in the top nine benefits of employee engagement, engaged employees make the best recruiters. When you engage employees in recruiting efforts, you increase the quality and quantity of job candidates, decrease the time-to-hire, and improve other onboarding and retention metrics.

Why should engaged employees help with recruiting?

According to Jobvite, 40% of new employees are sourced by current employees. Employee referrals are a highly effective recruiting tool. Referred job candidates are more likely to be hired, and at a lower cost than traditional recruiting efforts. When you engage employees in recruiting, you save money compared to other recruiting channels. Even if you are paying out a handsome referral bonus to the referring employee, it’s going to be less expensive than sourcing through a traditional recruiter or filtering through hundreds of applicants that find you through paid job ads.

Most importantly, when you engage employees in recruiting, you are baking testimonials right into your recruiting process. Engaged employees are more satisfied than disengaged employees, and will be more likely to attract people to your company. Wouldn’t you like an excited future peer to tell you how great their time with the company has been? It’s far more comforting to job candidates than trying to assess a company on their own from the outside.

Should disengaged employees help, too?

Generally, introducing disengaged employees into your recruiting process is undesirable. Disengaged employees will not be as strong of an advocate for your company as engaged employees. Recruiting is a marketing effort. While job candidates are trying to sell themselves to you, you are similarly trying to sell your company to job candidates. If candidates have negative or neutral interactions with team members, they will question whether your company is somewhere they wish to work.

Now, that’s not to say disengaged employees should be automatically banned from recruiting efforts. Some people may be disengaged precisely because they want to contribute to such efforts. Choosing who to add to your recruiting team is a judgement call you must make as a leader, regardless of what some employee engagement survey says. And you’re hearing that straight from a company who wants you to take surveys! Just be sure to consider the potential impact anyone on your team may have before trusting them with something as important as recruiting efforts.

Identify where you have the biggest recruiting needs

Recruiting is the same as any marketing effort. You have a recruiting funnel with different stages, any one of which may constrain your ability to hire. So start by identifying where you need your engaged employees to focus their energy. Consider the follow steps in your recruiting workflow and prioritize the list by what you need most:

  • Sourcing new candidates (employee referrals, resume submissions, etc.)
  • Screening candidates
  • Early vetting of candidates (phone screens or candidate questionnaires relevant to the job)
  • Conducting interviews
  • Choosing the best candidates for hiring decisions
  • Onboarding new hires (supporting them in their first days at the company)

If you don’t currently measure the quantity of people that make it through each step in your recruiting pipeline or the time the average candidate spends in each step, start by putting the information you have in a spreadsheet. Alternatively, an inexpensive recruiting management tool like Workable can give you reports that automate some of the Excel magic you might otherwise do to track your time-to-hire, hiring percentage, and other key metrics.

Once you identify a bottleneck—a spot in your recruiting and hiring process that takes the most time or blocks subsequent steps from happening as fast as you’d like—you can ask for help from engaged team members.

Tell team members where you need the most help

People will be willing to help you if you can convey what type of help you need and why. Further, infusing this request with a sense of purpose will motivate people to volunteer. Granting autonomy to engaged employees in recruiting—and imbuing them with responsibility—will prompt them to make the best contributions they can to the areas where you need help. Clarifying the goals, objectives, or purpose behind your specific recruiting efforts will make it easier to engage employees in recruiting, as engaged employees want to make a positive impact. Specifying how you as a company leader believe they can make that impact will encourage them to gravitate toward roles you care about.

Assign specific responsibilities and show them how to do it well

A common mistake in all sorts of company initiatives is to grant people autonomy with no context. Finding volunteers for your recruiting efforts is a big hurdle, but your job is not done once they say yes. You then need to ensure each volunteer understands exactly what commitment you are seeking: what tasks will they be doing, where do they track it, where do they report it, how do they do it, and—once again—why are they doing it? Answer those questions before employees even ask, and then ask them if they’re ready to commit to what you’ve laid out for them.

Track their progress in recruiting efforts

Ensure you follow up after you make assignments. Employees will see that you measure what you care about. If you never ask for updates on employees’ recruiting efforts, never inspect the quality of their work, or change nothing if they fail to produce results, they will conclude that the work isn’t really that important. Therefore, set a calendar reminder to follow up routinely—preferably at least weekly—for any high-priority recruiting efforts you have assigned to team members. When they don’t meet your expectations, try to determine what happened and how improvements can be made for the future. Continue following up until you’ve reached your goals for recruiting efforts.

Positively reinforce the recruiting behaviors you desire

If you find that your employees are doing excellent work, tell them. Praise them publicly, thank them privately, or do whatever else you deem appropriate to best recognize their good work. (You can read more recognition ideas in our leadership playbook when you sign up for Insight). Also ask if it’s time for the high-performing employee to take on more responsibility. At a minimum, as part of recognizing their good work, you can ask them to demonstrate to other team members how they approach their assigned recruiting tasks. Beyond teaching others their recruiting practices, they may be ready to take on more of the recruiting process. Like any other area of the company, identifying a right hand in recruiting will give employees more opportunity and make any one person—including you—less of a constraint.

Ask all engaged employees to write online reviews

Even if you find no other appropriate work to engage employees in recruiting, every happy employee can write an online review of your company. Glassdoor is a common destination for job candidates who want to hear what it’s like to work at a company before applying. Maintaining a high employee review score by consistently asking engaged employees for a review will help you stand out in crowded job markets.

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