5 Factors That Create a Successful Employee Referral Program

3 min read
Jan 13, 2017

employee referral programs

Employees are the lifeblood of every organization. The more talented your staff is and the closer team members are with one another, the more likely it is that your company will be successful.

From time to time, every business needs to hire new workers. Whether employees leave or companies grow, new opportunities arise every so often.

How does your organization decide who to hire? Do you just post job ads on LinkedIn and Craigslist and hope for the best? Or does your company have an employee referral program that encourages workers to recommend talented folks for new positions?

According to our Engagement Report, coworkers are the number one thing employees like about their jobs. That being the case, it’s worth your while to create an employee referral program if you don’t have one yet as a part of your recruitment strategies. In doing so, you’ll increase the chances that new hires get along with existing team members and are on board with company culture.

How do you go about creating an employee referral program? Follow these five tips and hiring top talent will be easier than ever:

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01. Educate employees about the kinds of traits you look for in new hires

The last thing you want is your employees to start flooding your inbox with recommendation after recommendation of every person they know on the off chance they’ll refer the right candidate.

In order for your employee referral program to succeed, you need to thoroughly educate your staff on what characteristics you’re looking for in new hires. For example, you might tell your team you prefer candidates who have at least three years of experience, have a strong work ethic, and are pleasant to be around.


02. Designate an employee or two to be in charge of the program

Your referral program is unlikely to be effective if there’s no one explicitly overseeing it. Be sure to designate one or two team members to take charge of the program. This will increase the likelihood that referrals are responded to quickly.

If no one is in charge of the program, you risk demotivating your employees as referrals pile up and go unmentioned. Ask your team if anyone’s interested in being in charge of the program. If there’s a lot of interest, appoint two or three people to head an ad hoc referral committee.


03. Tell employees to always be looking for top talent

In order to hire the best people, your referral program can’t sleep. Your employees need to be thinking about people who would make great additions to the team on a daily basis — even when your company isn’t hiring at the moment. This enables you to collect a number of résumés from talented individuals. That way, once a position opens up, you’ll have no shortage of candidates to choose from and can make a hiring decision quickly.


04. Recognize employees who make successful referrals

Whenever an employee makes a referral and that candidate ultimately gets hired, you need to recognize your worker’s efforts immediately. Send them a quick thank-you email or take some time to compliment them in a more public setting.

Not only does employee recognition make workers happier, it also increases retention. By recognizing your employees for successfully referring new hires, you’re encouraging the rest of your team to take their referral game to the next level. Who doesn’t want their manager to tell them they’re doing a great job?


05. Incentivize employees who refer the most new hires

Recognizing your employees who end up referring new hires is one thing. Rewarding the team members who successfully refer the most candidates is quite another. At the end of each quarter, give the employees who recommend the most new hires a bonus. It doesn’t have to be anything major. A little bit of cash, an Amazon gift card, or a gift certificate to a local restaurant will do. By incentivizing your employees to refer candidates, your referral program will become that much stronger.



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