How to Build an Employee Referral Program

When your company is growing fast, it’s an equally exciting and somewhat stressful experience. On the one hand, you have a stellar team that’s working hard and helping your company reach new heights, you have more clients than ever, and your business is gaining the recognition it has earned.

On the other hand, however, you’re quickly realizing that you have more tasks than you do people. There will come a point where you’re going to need to hire more staff.

Recruiting can be a long, tedious process. The postings and ads on job boards, the vetting of candidates to narrow down the pool, the numerous interviews, and then, finally, the hiring, onboarding, and training, it can bog you down. It can be a lot to pile on top of your already increasingly busy schedule.

If only there was a way to cut out all of that work and just attract people who you knew would be accountable. With a good, structured employee referral program, you can.

Why You Should Go to Your Employees

Why should you consult your employees for their ideas on who to hire? There are quite a few reasons why you could use your workforce as your own personal recruiting team, but here are just a few of the many.

Nobody Knows the Company Like They Do

Who else knows your company inside and out, the culture you’ve created, and the business model like your own employees do? The answer is nobody.

When your employees are enabled to seek out their friends and acquaintances for job openings, they know what they’re signing their friends up for and can pitch the job to them like nobody else can.

Their excitement and love for their job, as well as the trust established through the friendship, builds that impulse that the potential candidate has in working to want to work for your company. They will also know more about the position than the average candidate.

If They’re Good People, Chances Are, Their Friends Are Good People

If you have a solid team of employees that you know gets work done and are punctual, honest people, the chances are high that their friends are similar.

People who are go-getters attract other people who share the same goals and mindsets. This way you can feel confident that the friend of your employee will at least have some similarities in values and work ethic that your current employee already has.

It Can Save You Time Searching

If you ask any hiring manager, they can tell you, the search takes time. You have to sort through an extensive list of resumés and applications before you find any that are qualified and then you have to get in contact with them, set up interviews, etcetera.

With a good employee referral program, you cut down on a lot of that time by not having to post to a job board or weed through unqualified candidates. On average, new referred hires start working faster than traditional candidates, so you can get your staff filled up as soon as possible. Learn the right questions to ask when interviewing someone so that you can streamline this recruitment process and get the most qualified candidates.

Some Ideas for Employee Referral Programs

So how exactly do you build an employee referral program? Here are our top ideas.

Happy Hours

Happy hours are the classic way for coworkers to meet up off the clock and enjoy hanging out as people. Why not use this idea and take it a step further?

You can host your happy hour in person or through Zoom and encourage your employees to bring their friends. This allows the friends to become fully submerged in the company culture at its most fun and casual moments.

Your employees will get to know them at the same time they get to know your other employees so it’s a win-win.

Connecting From the Candidate’s Perspective

There are programs out there that allow candidates to connect with your employees for a referral. These programs offer the option for candidates to “get a referral” after they submit their application, offering them the opportunity to connect with current employees through Facebook or their LinkedIn. Make sure to create a LinkedIn business page so that you can attract qualified candidates.

This allows candidates to be proactive in their own networking and shows you that they take initiative.


Offering incentives to your employees for referring new employees is, understandably, a successful tactic in getting employees interested in referring their friends.

The first thing that comes to mind is a cash employee referral incentive because who doesn’t like money? You could offer a referral incentive of a few hundred or thousand dollars to any employee who brings in a successful referred employee who gets hired.

Other incentives don’t include cold hard cash. Rather than a bonus payment, create a leaderboard showcasing what techniques the “highest referring employee” used to bring in candidates so that other employees can have a look at what strategy works best. This also creates a bit of fun competition among employees to see who can be the best.

An Automated Text Program

Once you have that list of references from your trusted employees, make it easy for potential new employees to get in touch with you.

Recruitment professionals frequently get bogged down with making calls and getting the right people on board, so why not make the whole process easier with an automated text response system?

Simply give employees a number for their referrals to text with a specific phrase, then let the automated system provide them with more information on the position and the company. This gives them the information they need before you follow up with a call the next day/

Social Media Engagement

It’s no secret that social media is the best new platform for recruiting, and if you haven’t yet, you should improve your company’s social media presence.

Having this active profile will gain you a following and your current employees can invite their friends to “like” or “follow” your page. This drives traffic to your page while also exposing possible referrals to more information about your company and your brand. Social media recruiting is a great way to attract the right candidates to you company that resonate with your brand.


Build a Good Team that You Can Trust

The secret to making sure you get in all of the new referred hires you need through your employees is to build a company of people you can trust. To build the business you want to run, look into Maui Mastermind’s workshops and consultation services.

Once you know that you have a great business that you believe in, employees will be excited to bring their friends in with them.