Attracting Higher Quality Job Candidates with a Referral Rewards Program

If you think of the most successful hires you’ve made, chances are the job candidate was referred to you by someone else. This is why employee referral programs can be such a great investment for businesses.

However, there are many different ways an organization can set up its programs to incentivize employee involvement. Thankfully, there are strategies you can apply to help achieve better success with your program.

Why Employee Referral Programs Work

Although employee referral programs take time to organize, there are plenty of reasons why businesses rely on them when hiring new employees.

Pre-vetted Job Candidates

HR managers and recruiters often struggle to articulate the requirements of the role and the ins and outs of the company to potential job candidates t. This can be a long, tedious process, considering the recruitment process also includes filtering out individuals who may not feel it’s a good fit for what they’re looking for.

However, when you involve your current employees in the recruitment process, you can expedite this process. Employee referrals come with pre-vetted job candidates who already understand the company and what will be expected before they apply. 

This can significantly reduce the amount of resources spent on advertising through job boards and going through lengthy interviews.

Larger Reach

When you leverage your employees’ social networks, you can tap into a hard-to-find talent pool. Considering many referrals may already be working in other organizations, you can find talent that wouldn’t directly apply for open positions. 

This gives you a strategic advantage when you can bring in great talent without competing directly with other organizations.

Better Company Perception

When employees refer others, they can often give honest opinions about the organization and its leadership. This can be a great way to quickly build trust with new job candidates and avoid having them feel apprehensive about starting with a new company.

Also,  implementing an employee referral program shows current and potential employees that you value their suggestions and insight into how you can grow the business. When companies value employee referrals, they often get appreciated back in many ways.

How to Build a Successful Rewards Program

Have the right structure in place to get employees excited about participating in your referral rewards program.  have the right structure in place. Below are some ways you can structure your rewards program for better engagement:

Use Tiered Rewards

Consider using a tiered reward system instead of just offering a single reward when an employee refers another job candidate. 

Tiered rewards are a type of incentive where the monetary value of the reward increases based on the difficulty of fulfilling certain roles or when meeting certain seniority levels. This helps to recognize that finding more in-demand hires can be challenging and the effort of employees to find and help to “close” these new candidates.

Consider Designing a Raffle System

Raffle systems are a great way to inject more fun and excitement into the referral program. In these scenarios, companies can provide some raffle tickets depending on the amount of referrals they give or based on the value of the role they’re helping to fill.

The great thing about this system is that it encourages more employees to participate in the program. Prizes could range from smaller tokens of appreciation like gift cards or vouchers‚—and could even include significant prizes like paid vacations or unique experiences.

Think Outside of the Box

Although many employees may prefer some form of incentive pay when being rewarded for their referrals, you shouldn’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to the rewards you offer.

You might consider offering incentives like extra paid time off work or being able to choose the next company event. Every company is different, and there may be limited budgets for work. However, the more creative you can get with your rewards programs, the more involvement you’ll get from employees.

Try to Personalize Your Employee Rewards

Wherever possible, you should personalize your rewards programs based on what your employees value the most. This may require surveying them directly and getting their input into how you can design a program that’s worth everyone’s time.

Some employees might prefer to be rewarded with something physical, like a new gadget or money they can spend on something they want or need. Others might be more interested in additional flexibility at work — whether through time to travel or even work-from-home days being extended to them.

The more personalized you can make your program, the more your workforce will value participating.

Start Finding More Qualified Job Candidates for Your Business

Employee referral programs can be a great way to bring in more qualified talent for the business. However, to make your company successful, it’s important to structure it in a way that brings the most value to your current employees. 

By following the strategies mentioned, you can help minimize the resources expended on traditional recruitment methods and start leveraging your employee networks.


  • Cindy Mielke

    Cindy Mielke is Tango Card's Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, and a Certified Professional of Incentive Management. Her passion is helping teammates, clients, and partners achieve success. A strong advocate for the incentive industry, Cindy received the Karen Renk Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) in 2019. She currently serves on the IMA board of directors and on the board of the Incentive and Engagement Solutions Providers (IESP).

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