11 Things Every Good Employee Referral Program Needs

small business employee referral program

An employee referral program is a win-win for you and your team. Referral candidates tend to be well-qualified, since they’re pre-vetted by staff members you know and trust, and hiring referrals shows you value your employees’ input.

Small Business Employee Referral Program

To help you build a great referral program, we asked the members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following question:

“What’s one key aspect of a successful employee referral program?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Ease of Use

“It’s essential for every employee referral program to be straightforward and simple. A lengthy and complex referral process will discourage would-be referrers. There are many referral platforms that can be utilized to make the process as efficient as possible. When setting up the program, request regular feedback and integrate this into the referral platform.” ~ Ibrahim Alkurd, New Mine

2. Goals

“Have you set goals around your employee referral program or are you simply hoping for quality hires to show up at your doorstep? Like any strategy, you need to set clear goals for your program so you can track its progress and see results. You should have an idea of how many referred employees you want to hire so you can work from there.” ~ Jared Atchison, WPForms

3. A Reward System

“Financial rewards are the most sought-after referral program. It’s a great way to compensate employees for their extra activities beyond their work-life. To enhance the results, financial rewards should not only be paid for new hires, but also for the applicants who took part in the interview. And don’t just stop there—also allow the employee to mentor the referred new hire with additional perks.” ~ Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz

4. Clear Parameters

“To make things easy for employees, have a clear outline of who you are looking to hire and where they can refer them. A great way to do this is by linking the application portal to an internal referral hub. Then current employees can see the entire list of job descriptions they can offer referrals to.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

5. An Open Line of Communication With HR

“Referral programs will thrive once you provide your staff with turnkey solutions to invite their colleagues, share social statuses and promote job posts. Design a simple process that gets your HR person in touch with your staff, sending over all resources (job posts, requirements, links to statuses) they need to take the next step. And if your HR identifies second-level connections, send them over too.” ~ Mario Peshev, DevriX

6. Internal Awareness

“It’s unlikely for an employee referral program to be successful if your employees haven’t even heard about it. This was what happened with Airbnb’s first referral program. It’s helpful to share information on your website, to make it a part of your onboarding activities and to feature it in internal newsletters. You’ll ensure that employees know about it and help you find great employees.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress

7. The Right Communication Strategy

“The biggest part of a good referral program is knowing how to ask. The better you are able to communicate the value this program brings to the company, the better position your staff will be in to understand and be motivated by the decision.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

8. A Great User Experience

“The harder it is to carry out an activity, such as using a referral program, the less successful your program will be. Create an attractive and user-friendly tool or page on your site that makes it easy to share information. It should be obvious, intuitive and easy for employees and their referrals to follow your processes. Great UX can substantially boost your referral program success.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

9. Transparency

“A key aspect of any employee referral program is transparency. If one of your employees is engaged with the company enough to make their own referral, the least you can do is be open and transparent in the referral process. Have applications been reviewed? Are interviews being scheduled? Keep your employees in the loop on what’s going on, and let them track the progress of their referrals.” ~ Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained

10. The Ability for Employees to Build Their Own Teams

“While you might get quality referrals from employees and managers who think someone they know might work out well in other departments, you’ll often find the strongest referrals come when staff recommend candidates they want on their own teams. That’s because they’ll be relying on each other to help improve their own performance metrics.” ~ Firas Kittaneh, Zoma Mattress

11. A Great Company Culture

“A great company culture is essential to a successful employee referral program. If your employees are not happy at work, they will not refer their friends to join your company, no matter how you try to incentivize them. The best incentive to refer is a company culture created to keep your employees so happy that they are excited to refer anyone they can think of.” ~ Adam Mendler, The Veloz Group


Image: Depositphotos.com

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.