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How to Motivate Staff to Make Employee Referrals

How to Motivate Staff to Make Employee Referrals

Eve Jones

We’ve talked before about how to boost your maritime recruitment drive and fill your vacant seafarer jobs by asking your employees and contractors to refer people they know. But if you’re thinking about implementing an employee referral scheme in your shipping company, it’s only going to work if you know how to motivate your staff to participate in it.

So just how do you go about doing that? And is it even worth putting the effort in to an employee referral program? According to research, 50% of candidates use word of mouth to help them find their next job or contract. So yes, it probably is well worth your while using referrals to help find top talent in the maritime industry!

This is an effective way of growing your talent pipeline, and - added bonus - it’s also a way of making your current employees and contractors feel like their opinion counts, increasing engagement and therefore crew retention. It really is a win win situation.

out of focus darts board with dart in the red bulls eye

Motivate employees to make referrals to accelerate your maritime recruitment drive


Of course, even the most loyal person working for you is going to have a limit when it comes to going above and beyond the call of duty. And while an engaged employee might mention to a friend or acquaintance that your shipping company is hiring, realistically they’re not going to turn into a full time recruiter in their free time for the love of it!

That’s why you need to motivate your employees to take part in your employee referral program. But here’s the million dollar question: how do you do that?

Well, surprise, surprise - it might not come down to a million dollars, despite what you might initially think. Google famously upped their payout for successful employee referrals from $2000 to $4000. You’d think that would be a sure fire winner, wouldn’t you?

metal attache case full of bundles of dollars

Weirdly, it wasn’t. It turned out that Google’s employees weren’t all about the money. There were other things that they valued more than the cold hard cash. So if your small to medium sized shipping company has jobs it really needs to fill and you’re thinking about rewarding employees and contractors for suggesting candidates, here are some things to keep in mind.

Ways to motivate your employees to make candidate referrals


Implement a referral process that is easy

Okay, this might seem an obvious one but we have to start somewhere so we may as well start here! Put simply, if your employee referral program needs someone to have a degree in quantum physics to be able to understand it, it’s not going to work.

If your program is too much hassle to figure out, to use, and to claim through, employees are just going to forget it. They have enough to do in their working (and private) lives without worrying about recruiting on your behalf if you’re not making it easy for them to do so.

silver laptop, smartphone, notepad and pencil on a clear surface

It’s also in your favor to make the process simple: you really don’t want cash hungry employees to be focusing more on trying to earn rewards than they are on their actual jobs.

Therefore, communicate: tell your people what you need, which ranks you’re trying to fill, and your crew change date. Set up a simple system with just a couple of steps that works both online (for shore based employees) and offline if need be (for seafarers).

Create a great company culture

This is really another no-brainer. At the end of the day, if your employees and contractors don’t like working for your shipping company, there’s very little chance that they’re going to recommend you to one of their friends or former coworkers.

Related: Why Great Communication is Essential for Crew Retention

On the other hand, if you respect your people, pay them fairly, and make them feel like a valued part of your organization - and that goes for contractors working in your shipping jobs too - it is much more likely that they will be ambassadors for you.

white brick wall with We Like You Too and a smiley emoji painted on it in black

An employee referral program is an important part of this as it shows your staff that you value their opinion and want them to be involved in the hiring process. And that you’re willing to reward them for it too.

Everyone likes working with people they get on with. If your company is great to work for, the knock on effect will be that your teams and crew will want their friends to experience that too and will put them forward for your vacant jobs at sea.

Show employees & contractors your appreciation

Okay, this might just boil down to ‘incentivizing people’ but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, that’s really what an employee referral scheme is about. As we’ve discussed, throwing large amounts of money is quite likely not the way forward. But your employees will still expect some sort of compensation for their efforts.

The good news is, you can show your appreciation and reward the employees who’ve put forward great candidates without blowing your budget.

cup of half drunk coffee and card saying thank you on round wood table

You can even turn this into an advantage that works in your favor. For example, instead of paying out money at the end of the month, quarter or when the referral is hired, turn the whole procedure into a more fun and engaging process by giving out smaller rewards along the way.

For example, you could hand out movie passes or gift cards for your local coffee shop once a referred candidate has reached the interview stage. Obviously for the people you already have working in your seafarer jobs this will need to be handled a little differently to your shore based employees.

You could think of ways they could be rewarded while at sea, or reward them by emailing them eGift cards to use when the're back on shore.

Shine a spotlight on your top performers

Everyone likes to be praised. If your employees and contractors are going out of their way to help drive your maritime recruitment efforts forward and are making filling empty seafarer jobs easier for you, then let the rest of the company or crew know.

four people in a casual work environment sitting around a desk chatting and smiling

For shore staff this could be done at your monthly or weekly meetings. For crew onboard your vessels, you could ask someone in charge to pin a list up in the mess room highlighting those who have brought in new recruits.

Recognition and appreciation can be just as important as rewards and it will have the knock on effect of increasing your employee and crew retention too.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Candidate Database

Martide helps you find qualified seamen for your seafarer jobs


Employee referrals are a great way of filling jobs and finding new talent in the maritime industry. And so is working with Martide!

We have a global talent pool of licensed and qualified seafarers and can help you fill your vacancies quickly and easily through our one stop maritime recruitment platform.

We take care of everything for you, from advertising your jobs to simplifying the final contract negotiations. Get in touch with us today and schedule a no-strings attached demo so you can see what we’re all about.