Making a Referral Program Work: 6 Ways to Do it Right

An employee referral strategy can often seem to be an onerous task; creating a program that genuinely inspires, getting employees to take ownership of the initiative, and finding recruiting tools geared for a truly effective returns pattern. However, talent always breeds and reconnects you with greater talent. If you’re looking for high-quality employees, this is a great place to scouting for the same. There are many aspects to an adequate and effective referral strategy.aking a Referral Program Work: 6 Ways to Do it Right

Having said that, like most recruiting tools and HR methodologies, there are a couple of basic building blocks that are always common, easy to remember and help to get one started. Here are 6 essential riders of any referral strategy, that one can’t afford to miss


  1. Appreciate an employee’s effort to refer

It doesn’t get any simpler than this. If an employee has actually taken time to refer a known acquaintance, make sure he or she is sufficiently rewarded. And know it’s not just about a compensation – it means recognizing, celebrating, and acknowledging the person in public, through a medium of mass communication (a mailer, a town hall mention, or a card signed by senior management). This will only foster a desire to refer again and inculcate the same in others operating in the employee’s ecosystem.


  1. Keep it transparent

A big chink in most referral strategies is that they sometimes tend to go dark after a couple of rounds. It’s vital for HR teams to utilize the recruiting tools at hand to maintain a regular communication pathway with the employee who made the referral. Share your thoughts on the applicant, keep him or her abreast of developments, and don’t forget to appreciate him or her for their attempt to bring you the best talent.


“Developers tend to hang out with other developers. Start with your current team and ask them if they have any friends who might be interested in joining your team. A lot of companies, including smaller businesses and startups, swear by their employee referral programs. This is a much more cost-effective recruiting method than paying costly recruiter fees, cuts down on the time it takes to hire, and builds employee morale overall.


  1. Make referrals an easy process

If your employee referral strategy and associated processed are dense, the odds are you’ll turn away most of the possible interested workers. Use a variety of the software solutions and referral-supported recruiting tools available, to make employee referrals easier, simpler, and faster in execution.


  1. Don’t just reward the end result – consider the engagement

A referral bonus isn’t just all you need to do. Speaking to the employee, as mentioned, rewarding the behavior, a small incentive – like a gift card, a leaderboard with points for referrals, and tangible rewards, like a t-shirt or coffee mug, go a long way in making an employee feel special, and his or her contribution, of real significance.


  1. Advertise the initiative

If a referral strategy has to succeed, it must be communicated effectively. Eye-catching mailers, attractive workspace collaterals, and regular reminders, all created in a warm, conversational, and vibrant tone of voice, helps make the program appear approachable, fun, and evocative of a person’s desire to contribute. Remember, your job is to ‘manufacture’ and inspire enthusiasm; the rest will happen on its own.


  1. Experiment with a range of referral tactics

No one program works for every company, and it’s important for HR teams to experiment with the kind of program and set of recruiting tools best suited for their enterprise. While fashioning such an initiative, it’s critical to keep an eye on the following:

  • Educating employees on why referrals matter
  • Conveying the criticality of recruitment for a particular position
  • Spreading the program to one and all, across hierarchies
  • Prioritizing positions that are tough to fill
  • Showcasing referral successes
  • Creating a ‘contest’ to promote a referral program


“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO



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By Malbert Rodrigues