7 Drivers Of An Effective Employee Referral Program


by Savio S Vadakkan

Employee referral programs are all about getting employees to participate in and refer quality candidates. But getting the program to the point where employees feel motivated to participate needs some understanding of what drives a referral program and what do you need to do to ensure the program drivers are in place. Since such programs are all about employees, the drivers of an effective employee referral program are similar in nature to drivers of employee engagement. We have listed below 7 key drivers of an effective referral program that can help take your program to new heights of success.


Communication is one of the biggest drivers of success of the program. The more you communicate, the greater is the impact on employees. Regular communication through different channels, like townhalls, newsletters, company boards etc send the message that the organization is committed to the success of the program and employees are expected to contribute likewise.

A simple program makes it easy for employees to participate and that can one of the most important drivers of employee engagement, especially in the initial stages. Design the program such that employees need to put in the least amount of effort to participate and refer someone.

Transparency in the program is also a key ingredient for success, particularly when it comes to the rewards program. Linked to transparency is referral program responsiveness. A referral program which is transparent about the reasons for accepting or rejecting a referral candidate and ensures that the feedback reaches the employee within the least possible time can drive the referral program to great results. Similarly ensuring that the program is transparent about when the rewards will be disbursed, mode of payment etc and stands to its commitment is likely to see more success.

Recognizing good effort even if it does not produce the desired result can drive up motivation levels in referral programs. Design the program to reward effort, even if the reward is not very big. Ensure that employees with significant contribution to the program are given due recognition in company forums and their success stories shared in company communication to make them feel good as well as to encourage others to follow suit.

Build referral champions from within your employees. Identify employees with good social connections who are likely to be good at persuading others to join the organization and encourage them to become referral champions. By building referral leaders from within employees, employees are more likely to trust the referral program and feel motivated to participate.

Use technology to run the program as much as possible. Nowadays, automated matching tools have taken the guesswork out of locating candidates with the right skills set and can also help make referrals more scientific based. Employees will not need to waste time finding the right candidate as automated tools will be able to display the best fit from within their connections.

Lastly, social media is the next big driver for successful programs and integrating social media tools within your program has become key to drive the program in the coming years.

About the author

Savio Vadakkan is the Marketing Professional at ZALP, a leading employee referral tool. ZALP enables organizations to boost their employee referral hires by highlighting 7 drivers of an effective employee referral program.