Posted on August 22, 2013

6 Tips to Help You Create Your Next Employee Referral Program

Most organizations would agree that the business case for employee referral programs is clear: internal referral programs allow you to hire better people faster, at a lower cost and in an inclusive manner.

While most HR professionals have a good idea of how an employee referral program works, they often get stuck when it comes to implementing a modern program. Luckily, advances in technology have made programs much easier to set up, run, manage and promote. Sending a monthly email to ask for referrals just isn’t enough anymore.

What are the critical components of a modern employee referral program? Here are six tips to help you create your next employee referral program:

1. Keep it simple

The biggest risk when creating an employee referral program is complexity. You are designing a program that will touch all of the actors in your hiring process and people in extended networks. Keep it simple. Your program should never require training.

2. Mobile matters

According to a recent GlobalWebIndex Study, the number of people accessing the internet via a mobile phone increased by 60% in the last two years alone. Mobile matters more now than ever before. Your employee referral program must be where your uses are. Today, that’s everywhere.

3. Get socialized

It’s a fact: your employees are using social networks. According to 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.” Referral programs thrive on an abundance of connections, and never before have we been more connected to our networks. Enabling your employees to broadcast jobs to their social networks creates exponential exposure and provides a low-cost way to reach potential job seekers quickly.

4. Incentivize and gamify

It’s important to incentivize employees for referring applicants, and most experts agree that cash is still king. But, more and more, research shows that employees want to be recognized for small contributions. People enjoy seeing their progress and they like to compare their results with others. Adding an element of gamification, such as a leaderboard, will encourage participation in your employee referral program.

5. Vouch for referrals

Just because we’re connected to someone doesn’t mean that we’d recommend them for every job. A modern employee referral program must easily allow employees to discretely vouch for candidates referred through their networks. Creating a feedback loop reduces risks and encourages valuable collaboration. Allowing employees to vouch for their referrals also builds trust and confidence in the program by giving users control.

6. Integration is essential

*To be truly useful and to have any chance of widespread user adoption, an employee referral program must be fully integrated with your Applicant Tracking system Third party employee referral tools and spreadsheets create information silos that quickly become a problem for reporting and capturing feedback. As you implement a new employee referral program, be mindful of how it will integrate with your current technology.


Following these six tips will help you successfully begin a new employee referral initiative and start you down the path of hiring better candidates at a lower cost. Learn how to further increase hiring process efficiency and make smarter hiring decisions with Paycor’s Applicant Tracking system: get in touch with us today.

Source: Joel Passen, Newton Software