40% of all hires come from employee referrals, yet just 7% of total applicants come in this way. Let that sink in. 


Referred workers have a higher retention rate- they are up to 30% less likely to leave their job in under 3 years. 


And referred hires from ‘average’ workers produce 25% more output/profit than non-referred employees, while referrals from ‘top performing’ employees produce 135% more output/profit.  


The benefits of employee referrals are so prevalent, but building an effective program to get employees to continuously engage with it is hard and often slips through the cracks of priorities.


Here’s a look at some creative ways to get your team excited and involved and generate employee referrals all year long. 




You have an employee referral cash bonus? Great! But there’s more to it.


You need to create buy-in beyond the dollar.


Communicate to your current employees how much you value their opinion and their ability to help the company grow – beyond what they do on a day to day basis in their jobs.


This is an opportunity to show you are buying into them as well. Here’s some ways to communicate this: 


Hold a “Recruiting Forum” 

This can be monthly/quarterly/bi-annually– you set the rhythm based on your culture and goals. In these meetings review numbers, celebrate successes, and highlight wins. Discuss upcoming needs and address high impact areas.


Keep Them Involved. Send out updates and provide both overall and direct feedback to describe what is working well and what isn’t as effective. It’s human nature — people remain engaged when they feel their efforts are appreciated. Taking time to provide effective feedback and true status will accomplish this.


Make it Brief. Give hiring managers an opportunity to present a short brief on what they are looking for, the types of people that would work well in their group and a couple of compelling points as to why someone would want to join their team. This could be incorporated into already existing meetings, at the beginning of a social event or even at a quick office team lunch.


Promote Behaviors. Continuously talk about and endorse desired behaviors and outline what a great “athlete” looks like in your organization. Don’t just say “Who knows python developers?” Paint the picture of what that python developer at your company will look like. Suggest target companies that are relevant to help prompt ideas.


Employee Surveying 

Do you know if your employees even WANT to bring their friends and acquaintances into your company? Ask them! Make it quick, simple and anonymous. You can pose one simple question: “How likely are you to refer someone on a scale of 1 to 10?” This can provide some interesting insight on how engaged your team is and may reveal potentially looming retention issues.




By getting teams to “buy-in” and energize them as active participants in an initiative to continuously improve THEIR company, you empower them to feel they are part of the solution.


Host a Friday Afternoon Talent Social.

Ask your team to come prepared to tap into their networks. They bring names. You provide drinks, snacks and prizes.


Employee Networking Lunch Program.

Offer select members of your team the ability to expense lunch (how often and how much depends on your budget) so they can meet up with people in their personal business network and sing the praises of your company.


To hold them accountable, ask them to bring back 2-3 takeaways from these meetings. This could be a resume, some more names of people to potentially recruit or even market data on relevant roles for which you are hiring.


Highlight Referral Successes.

Ask several employees that were referred over the past 6-18 months to speak about how glad they are that someone thought of “nominating” them for employment. Discuss some of the things they’ve achieved and make reference to the employee channels that brought them in.


Celebrate the Hires!

On the first day of work for a referred employee, build excitement around the originator! Deliver flowers, balloons, a cake, a singing telegram – whatever! Something that recognizes the contribution.





Mapping. The average employee will have 150 contacts on social media networks – 100 employees translates to 15,000 contacts (and possible candidates). Sit with key employees and review their LinkedIn contacts to extend the reach.  When you begin digging – you both may be surprised how many great contacts you can uncover. Start with past employers and alumni networks.  There will be situations where your employee will want to keep an arm’s length from actual recruitment efforts, so offer to make contact anonymously. You can still track the results back to your employee so they can collect their reward!


Sponsor a “Bring a Friend to Work Night.” There should be value beyond tours of the office, but what those are will depend upon your demographic. Think about the target audience and create an attraction – this may be a really cool speaker, advanced demo of a new product, a night of free beer or just a chance to network. The sky really is the limit here, so get creative, but be smart about it. The goal is to have friends thinking, “I wish I worked there.”




The easier you make it, the more likely to get something implemented successfully. Rather than create work for your employees, provide them with tools to help.


Add a “We’re Hiring” link to email signatures that directs to your career page. If you have a great video that portrays the culture at the workplace, offer that link as well.


Create “personalized” template messaging that your team can access and use as needed to post across social media channels. Be sure the messaging matches the demographic as well as the vehicle.


Create a recruiting playbook for employees that covers how to pitch the company. Quick bulleted points that are memorable and valuable are the most effective.


Provide recruiting cards. These can be handed out on the spot when an employee has a positive interaction with someone. This works great trying to recruit out of the Apple Store! These cards should have some key points that will intrigue and will drive someone else’s great employee to look at what you have to offer.




Cross refer candidates with partner companies. Have you ever thought about pooling resources of an applicant tracking system? Perhaps creating a program to share candidates with a channel partner is viable for you. Test some ideas with one or two organizations with whom you have a trusted relationship. If it works, you can always broaden the scope. Key to success will be defining the program and process – setting the rules of the game, if you will. Agree upon these things at the beginning and then do a monthly check-in to review effectiveness. Communication and honesty are crucial for this to work.


Build a recruiting app. It’s bold, but if you have the resources (like some spare engineers hanging around) – don’t dismiss it. Build an app for your team to easily capture names of people they interact with outside of work. Maybe you need customer service reps – and someone meets an awesome waiter when you’re out to dinner. Who knows…. The app can engage and capture this info while it’s fresh. Again – just an idea, but get creative!


Rewarding Rewards. The norm is to implement “typical” Employee Referral Bonus cash awards upon hire. But what about some interesting alternatives? Try offering rewards for things other than just the “hire”. Think about celebrating the activities that can help drive hires. For example, if your company interviews X number of referred candidates over the quarter they get rewarded. Mimosas…a laser tag outing…free breakfast for the month. Maybe try a point systems where employees can earn prizes. How about donations to favorite charities?


It is absolutely critical to talk to every referral, no matter what. Word travels fast, especially via social media. Your employee referral program is part of your employment brand. Timely and respectful communication to both the referrers and referrals are key to not only keeping it intact, but to the enhancement of your reputation and success.


For more information on Talent Retriever and how we can help build strategies for your company as you continue to grow. Click Here