Employee referrals: Three success factors that boost your recruitment

There are many factors that account for an effective employee referral programme. For example, in addition to being compatible with all relevant social media platforms, it should also offer comprehensive analysis tools for HR and motivate employees to contribute through a rewards system that is as individual as possible. But other important success factors are often overlooked. Read here what you need to pay attention to in your employee referral programme.

Win-win-win thanks to employee referrals

In the majority of companies, employee recommendations have long been part of standard recruitment practice. On average, employers reach 341 potential candidates via the social networks of just one employee. And it is not only this free reach that makes employee referrals so attractive in recruitment. HR staff also value the cultural fit and loyalty that recommended employees often bring. These in turn are grateful for recommendations and trust a well-meant suggestion from their own circle of friends or acquaintances more than they do fancy corporate marketing. If the person making the referral ends up being rewarded for his or her efforts, then everyone benefits.

What an effective referral programme must have

Most employers already know about the many benefits of an effective employee referral programme. After all, according to company-internal surveys, they are considered to be the best source for recruitment in every second company. However, achieving this requires more than just a well-stocked rewards shop and application links that can be shared in social media or by email. Useful analytical tools to monitor success are just as important as the system being able to interact with all relevant social media platforms, being intuitive to use and having a direct link to an application management system.

However, there are three critical success factors that companies do not always have on their agenda when introducing a referral programme.


📱#1 Mobile access for high participation rates

So that as many people as possible can participate in the referral programme, it is necessary to ensure a smooth flow of information, taking into account the structural realities of the company. Employees are not always sitting at a desk in front of a computer with access to job ads, social media posts, the rewards shop, or important internal news. Blue collar workers, for example, are mainly reachable via their smartphones. For them, a stable mobile app is essential if they are to act as ambassadors for the employer or participate in a referral programme.

In this context, the particular importance of internal communication within the framework of the referral programme should also be pointed out, since employee commitment is crucial for success. Managers must also be encouraged to become ‘internal promotors’. Here again, motivating them depends on reaching all players via the right channels – whether it be via an app, email, or Intranet.


🏅#2 A safe and manageable reward system

Incentive payments are the key ingredient in any referral programme. Especially if intermediate goals such as sharing job posts or recommending candidates can be rewarded via a points system. However, many employers worry about the misuse of gamification programmes by occasional bad eggs within their workforce; and an accompanying cost explosion due to the uncontrolled redemption of reward points. Here it is advisable to go for systems that are equipped with an automatic (fraud) control mechanism and also have the facility to set an individual points limit. A controllable reward system guarantees full control at all times and prevents misuse.


📣#3 Strategic talent pools for general referrals

Referrals can be made in different ways and their potential is not always realized. In addition to the two classic ones – where an employee shares a job posting with her or his network or recommends a person to fill a vacancy – speculative referrals often fall through the net. But, when they are convinced that a candidate is a good fit with the company, employees should be encouraged to make recommendations irrespective of any vacancies. Even though there may currently be no suitable position for them, their professional qualifications could be of interest at a later stage. Recruiters then have the opportunity to draw on a well-stocked talent pool with a ‘cultural fit’ guarantee, which speeds up the recruitment process enormously.

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