Referral Program Best Practices

Jan 30, 2018

Referral programs can be one the most effective methods of finding high quality applicants for your company. If you are in the process of developing or revamping your referral program here is a list of best practices that can help in the process.

Executive Sponsorship

Building a referral culture is essential to the success of your program. The example your executives set will make or break the enthusiasm of everyone else on down the line. Your goal is to convince an executive to sponsor your program. See if they will announce the launch of your new program (or at least give you a quote to include in the launch email). You could also have them announce new campaigns meant to stimulate more referrals such as an iPad raffle.

Hiring Manager

Your hiring managers are the first people to feel the pain of an empty position and have more direct influence over your employees than anyone else. If possible, organize an online training meeting using a tool like GoToMeeting. Your goal will be to teach your hiring managers how the referral program works and to encourage them to ask for referrals. If you can get them on board, they’ll do a better job promoting your referral program than you could ever hope to do.

New Hires Are A Goldmine

New employees enjoy a wonderful honeymoon with your company. They’re in love with your company, their new job, and their new co-workers. It’s the perfect time to ask for referrals. Approach them while they’re hot because your new employees are a goldmine of quality referrals. They still have fresh relationships with the best employees from their previous employer. It’s the perfect time for them to approach their former co-workers and say, “I made the switch and I’m loving it here. You should join me.”


Giving employees branded items with the referral url is a great way to introduce them to the program. When it is an item that they can keep on their desk such as a water bottle or a mouse pad it also serves as a reminder to keep them engaged in the referral program. Other items could include magnets, pens, stapler, t-shirt, stress ball, portable phone charger, or an umbrella.


Your time is valuable. Develop a system that automatically sends an engagement email to your employees. These emails need to be personalized and contain an engagement message, open jobs, and status updates on any previous referrals they’ve made. If you’re running any special campaigns for which that employee qualifies they should receive a note about that as well. Sending the same broadsweeping message to all employees week after week will reduce its effectiveness over time. Rotating messaging allows you to engage your employees with a different message and email subject line for each email.


Another way to keep the referral program fresh on employees minds would be to hang posters in common areas like the break room. We have several pre made posters that can easily be edited in Word. Once you have downloaded the file you can insert your company logo, customize the message, and print. To access this free resource click here.

Celebrate Success

To help employees catch the vision and get excited about the referral program it is important to share success stories. This will help them get excited to participate. Here are a few ideas of how you could accomplish this.

  • Publish a short story in the company newsletter.
  • Take a picture with a big check and include it in an email.
  • Publicly recognize successes in company meetings.

Rewards Program

Many referral programs have a cash reward that is tied to each position. You may choose to wait 60-90 days after a referral is hired to pay out the reward. These cash bonuses may range from $100-10,000 depending on your budget and priority level of the position. Adjusting the amounts from time to time and position to position helps keep things fresh. It also shows the employees which positions are a higher priority.

Micro Rewards For Participation

Companies with successful long operating referral programs have adopted a reward strategy that rewards employees even for the very act of mentioning someone rather than only on a successful end result. Introducing micro rewards in the referral program strategy helps to keep employees engaged and motivated by rewarding them in small ways for participating in the program, irrespective of the outcome of the referral. Even though the rewards itself are small in nature, they work as significant motivators to keep employees excited about the program and keen to participate to qualify for the rewards.


Having a system in place to track the progress of referrals is important to employees. They are eager to know if their referral was hired and when they will be getting their reward. With the right system this can easily be automated and included in the engagement emails. When employees do not have easy access to this information they can overwhelm you with update requests or become disengaged in the program.

Brand Ambassadors

Turn your employees into brand ambassadors by giving them a unique tracking link which they can share via social media, email, or text. This tracking link will give your employees credit for all the activity that is generated from their post. These posts are an excellent way to attract candidates. Facebook gives more visibility to posts made by individuals than they do to those authored by corporate brands.


Developing a top notch referral program may seem like a daunting task but can be easier than you might think. With an Employee Referrals account manager and all the software you need to automate the process your program can be up and running smoothly in no time. To lean more Click here.