The Frog Blog

Ribbiting News in the World of Recruiting

4 Ways to Refresh Your Employee Referral Program

Posted by Michael Bachman on Sep 6, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Starting an employee referral program is hard, but worth it. Not only are they the most productive source for diversity hires, but they stay longer, are a better fit, and and cost less. Don’t have a program? Join us on September 12 at 1p EST for the secrets to a flawless employee referral program.

There’s no doubt that referrals make the most sense when it comes to hiring. After all, they save time and money and I don't see that fact changing in the foreseeable future. But, before you can interview, make an offer and begin to realize the benefits of it, you’ve got to have the actual referral. For many companies, it’s a lot easier said than done. Even those with established employee referral programs (ERP) and good incentives may feel as though getting employees to make referrals is like pulling teeth, and that difficulty takes away from all the benefits there are to be had.

Referral programs slow down, stall and even fail to take off for a number of reasons, from the program not being well communicated, to employees not feeling it’s worth the time, to having a bad program historically. But, the good news is that referral programs are proven to work. Time and time again, companies successfully see their employees recruit new talent, and the entire organization benefits when it happens.


If your program never took off, has stopped succeeding, or just needs a boost, then take a look at these four ways to refresh your employee referral program: 

Dive into the data.

A research and data-backed plan is the standard in nearly every other area of the business, and it should be the expectation here too. Both qualitative and quantitative data are valuable when you’re trying to understand what works and what doesn’t, so spend as much time talking to employees and referred candidates (both those who were hired and those who weren’t selected, if you have the opportunity) as you do looking at the numbers. Of course, you’ll also want to look at your program trends to see what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. Make adjustments, test, evaluate and repeat.


Offer larger cash incentives for hard-to-fill positions. 

Cash is a significant motivator. While companies continue to offer cash incentives to their employees when it comes to referral hiring, offering a larger cash incentives if you're in need can challenge and motivate individuals who may know a perfect match. Use the model that Uber and Lyft use. The harder you work the bigger bonus you get when all is said and done. An extra $500 is a small piece of the pie when you look at total cost-per-hire and other metrics. 


Take a look at the process.

It might be hard to admit, but sometimes the reason a referral program isn’t working is because of things the HR and recruiting teams are doing. Take a look at your process, walk through the steps of both referrer and their candidate to see what their experiences are like, and think about how each person feels throughout. Often times, employees don’t feel like referrals are taken seriously or they never receive follow up, which can discourage them from referring again. This is a huge problem - fix it!

On the candidate side, if the recruiting process is dragged out, or the experience is negative, you could have an explanation as to why referred candidates often don’t end up interviewing or accepting an offer. The good news is that if your problem lies in this area, you have an incredible opportunity to transform and reinvent both your process and your ERP, without ever having to increase your budget.  


Launch a new campaign.

Whether you decide to make changes to your program or not, nearly every company could benefit from their referral program being introduced in new and exciting ways. Work with your marketing or corporate communications team to truly market the program internally, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. A short-term campaign is not only a good way to bring a renewed focus to the program but can also give you the chance to try a new approach or reward without committing to it long-term. Create buzz and remind your employees of why the program matters, but use the time to go through some trial and error as well. You may just stumble onto something that resonates with your workforce and becomes a permanent part of your hiring regimen.


Facts don't lie. Employee referral programs will do wonders for your company's hiring iniaitives. Whether you're new to the game or have long-established programs, it's important to take a step back, referesh, and relaunch with a passion that will encourage employees to share. 

Topics: employee referral program

Subscribe to Email Updates

Download our latest eBook! 


  • Establish a budget with information that actually matters
  • Boost participation internally by better utilizing your own employees
  • Successfully measure the overall impact on your company

Download your copy today!

See Preferhired in action! 

How to Recruit Smarter on Preferhired Animation Video


Recent Posts