How to Optimize Your Employee Referral Program

September 19, 2022 in HR Best Practices



In today’s challenging recruiting market, it’s best to have a comprehensive employee attraction strategy, and a variety of channels for sourcing and recruiting the best talent. Along with a solid employer brand, you need job postings that sell your opportunities, a partnership with a recruiting agency that specializes in your industry, and an active employee referral program.

There are a number of things you can do to ensure that your employee referral program is effective and Kinsa Group’s recruiters share some best practices with you here:

Employee Experience

If your employees are thriving and proud to work for you, they’ll tell their friends and industry colleagues that this is a great place to work in the food and beverage industry.

Referral Bonuses

When your employees are engaged with your company and its future, you often don’t have to pay them to recommend the people they know, but referral bonuses can help remind them to take the time to spread the word about your current openings, especially if the openings are not directly related to the success of their role.

Candidate Experience & Keeping your Employees in the Loop

Ensuring every job candidate is treated with respect is critical, but it’s especially important with job candidates who are referred by your employees.

  • Remember to update your employee regarding the status of their referred candidate. They may be able to influence the candidate to say “yes” to your job opening if it comes to that.
  • On the contrary, if you’re not certain the referral is a good match for the role, be honest with both the candidate and your employee.  You do not want an employee who has referred someone to get a call from their referral saying, “I had a phone interview, but then I never heard back. Do you know what’s going on?” That’s likely an employee who won’t be taking their time to make any more referrals from their food or beverage industry relationships.

Avoid Additional Steps that Discourage Referrals

Referrals are a form of networking and typically are a great source of high-quality candidates, usually because the employee who referred them to you knows a lot about your company culture, and often has insight into the departmental need for that job opening.  An informal conversation between your HR department and the referral, or even between the referral and the hiring manager, is a great idea to assess the validity of the candidate for the role, prior to sending the job candidate through a more formal application process.

Terms & Conditions

While it’s pretty common to have conditions in a referral bonus payout program, keep in mind what you are trying to incentify, and then craft your terms and conditions accordingly.  If you want to incentify more referrals, a smaller bonus amount paid out more quickly could suffice.  If long-term retention is the greater concern, then a condition like “the bonus will be paid after the referred candidate has been employed for 6 months” may be more suitable and worth a higher amount earned.  But remember, it is the hiring manager’s role to ensure an onboarding process for a new hire can thrive, not your referring employee.

Promote your Employee Referral Program

Here’s an experiment that may produce surprising results. Ask several employees if your company has a referral program, and if so, how it works. If they don’t know, your referral program may be a “best-kept secret,” which is not good! Of course, some ways of promoting it are better than others.

Rather than sending out an email saying “Hey, remember that we have a referral program,” here’s a better idea… When a referred employee starts, send out an email with a photo of them standing next to the employee who referred them, thanking them both and reminding your employees that 1) the program is real, and 2) so are the rewards!

Let us help you strategically recruit your next new hire!

Kinsa has a very active referral bonus program and relies on referrals from industry professionals for many of our successful placements.  Reach out any time! We can help you fill your job opening with the best talent referred by professionals in your sector of the industry.

This blog was written by George Blomgren, Kinsa Group Recruiting ManagerConnect with him on LinkedIn.

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