Increase Employee Referrals: 10 Tips From Industry Thought Leaders

  • Added:
    Jul 28, 2014
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Increase Employee Referrals: 10 Tips From Industry Thought Leaders Photo by Savio Vadakkan

An organization can only be as good as the people it employs. In the extremely competitive business environment of today, the biggest challenge facing an organization is that of finding and keeping good employees.  There are various sources of hiringtalent; however what emerged as one of the best and most effective means of sourcing highly qualified talent are employee referrals. Employee referrals are not only cost effective but employees hired through referrals have been shown to be upto 25% more productive than hires from other sources making them a tool for organizational growth and productivity.

Dr. John Sullivan, an industry thought leader in designing employee referral programs has had the opportunity to study the referral program structure and design of organizations across the globe and has found very few referral programs that can provide true competitive advantage to organizations through incorporation of exceptional features. There are certain key characteristics that are needed to be present for any employee referral program to provide true business value to an organization.


Listed below are some of the key features accumulated from industry thought leaders required to increase employee referrals.


• Keep the employee referral program simple so it is easy for employees to understand it & act on it. A cumbersome Employee Referral Program can automatically impact participation.

• Implement SLAs for program responsiveness. An employee referral program that responds to employees within a defined time frame is the only one that can motivate employees to participate and refer. Too many good referral programs have fallen by the roadside as they have not failed to respond to employee referrals within reasonable time lines.


• Put in place an effective reward mechanism that seeks to recognize employees for the effort put into the program as well. Rather than seeking to reward only employees whose referrals are successfully hired, put in place a reward mechanism that rewards employees for their contribution as well through small tokens of appreciation.

• Prioritize positions and jobs to only invite referrals for openings which are likely to get referrals from employees.


• Selectively send job openings to employees most closely associated with the job or position to ensure high quality relevant employee referrals.

• Use technology to automate repetitive tasks like sending out a mail inviting referrals for current open positions every week, sending reminders for follow up action etc to ensure the process can run on its own.


• Integrate social media capabilities into your referral platform. As per a recent ComScore report, “Social networking ranked as the most popular content category in worldwide engagement, accounting for 19 percent of all time spent online.” Employee referral programs thrive on capitalizing on these social connections of employees to gain access to high quality talent which can be hired now or in the future. Ensuring your employee referral tool incorporates features to enable employees to share open positions across their social network as well upload their social profiles for jobs can increase the effectiveness of a referral program manifold.

• An estimated 30 million of the workforce works remotely making it imperative for organizations to either design a mobile referral portal or incorporate features into the existing employee referral platform that allows employees to refer candidates through their mobile devices so that all employees irrespective of their physical place of work can participate in the program.


• Introduce elements of gamification into the referral program to generate a sense of healthy competitiveness among employees. Gaming elements are known to drive up involvement and excitement levels among employees. Employees enjoy competing against one another and comparing progress against their peers, and introducing gaming elements into the referral program through leaderboard helps to do just that.

• Lastly newer technologies make it easy to scan the social connections of employees to come up with profiles that most closely match the required skill sets, making the entire process fast and easy for employees. Incorporating new features that provide for smart matching further reduces chances of human error making referrals even more effective and relevant.

The features recommended above are all time tested features that have helped drive and sustain some of the best employee referral programs. Keep these above tips in mind while designing your program and you are sure to have a winner in your hands.

Author's Profile

Savio Vadakkan is the Marketing Professional at ZALP, a leading employee referral tool. ZALP guides organizations about how to motivate employees to make quality referrals.


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