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The Guide to Relaunching Your Employee Referral Program

guide to relaunching your employee referral program

Download the Full Guide to Relaunching Your Employee Referral Program Here.


Before covid referring a friend for a position was an easy task. We could swing by the HR or TA office to learn how employee referrals were submitted and the benefits of doing so. Now, unfortunately it isn’t that simple. 

Is Relaunching Worth It?

If you are considering changing your existing employee referral program, you should evaluate the workflows that you currently have in place. To do this, you’ll need to understand the user journey from the perspective of each type of role involved with your employee referral program.  


When it comes to documenting the user journey, make sure to list out all of the steps that each type of user takes during the referral process, including any interactions with other users or prerequisites to completing a task. Next, map out the user’s journey. It is recommended that you interview users to learn exactly what they are doing and how they communicate throughout the process. 


Map the user journey and workflow associated with: 

  • An employee who is referring a candidate
  • A candidate who was referred
  • A member of the TA team is overseeing the referral program
  • A recruiting manager who is reviewing a referred candidate 
  • A person who is providing training about the referral program to new employee


Mapping out the experience will provide you with insight into the entirety of your program. This will allow you to see what is working well, but also identifies any pain points, inefficiencies, or misconceptions that can be corrected during your program redesign. 


Once your new policy is complete it will be time to roll out your revamped employee referral program to your employees. Now, to do this successfully you will need to prepare for the initial launch. Make sure to build up the momentum about your program across your workforce , then most importantly go live. 

What are Your Current Results?


After understanding the workflow with your employee referral program it is now time to reveiw the results. To begin your evaluation, compare referred employees to those sourced from other recruiting channels in three key areas.

After understanding your employee referral program’s workflows, it’s time to review its results. To begin your evaluation, compare referred employees to those sourced from other recruiting channels in three key areas:

  • Average time to hire – Is your referral program filling open positions faster than other recruiting channels? Effective employee referral programs have been shown to deliver candidates twice as fast as traditional recruitment channels.
  • Average ramp-up time – Are referred employees faster to hit full productivity than those from other channels? Referred employees often come in with a greater understanding of your workplace, which leads to more immediate productivity. 
  • New hires completing onboarding – What percentage of referred employees complete your onboarding process? How does this compare to the percentage of employees from other recruiting channels who complete onboarding? Referred employees are very likely to complete onboarding due to their connection to their referrer. 


Are Your Employees Engaged? ?

Next, evaluate how engaged current employees are with the referral program by considering the following:

  • Over the last year, what percentage of new hires were referred by an employee?
  • What percentage of employees referred a candidate in the last year?
  • How many referrals does the average employee make in their tenure with the company?
  • How do referrals compare across different positions? Are certain positions seeing higher numbers of referrals?
  • How do referrals compare across regions and departments? Are certains regions or departments seeing greater numbers of referrals than others?
  • If your employee referral program has different bonus tiers, how successful was each tier? Are some bonus tiers attracting more referrals than others?

To gain additional insight about engagement, interview some employees who regularly make referrals and also  some that do not to learn the differences between the two groups: 

  • What motivates the employees who regularly refer candidates? 
  • What’s stopping the employees who don’t make referrals? 


Use this information when redesigning your employee referral program to create a more engaged workforce.

How Do We Define Desired Outcomes?

After evaluating where your program stands, it’s time to determine where you want it to be. Review your evaluation and see what aspects you would like to improve. Each situation is unique, but consider questions like: 


  • Do you want to increase the total number of referrals received? 
  • Do you want to raise the number of referrals received for specific positions, regions, or departments?
  • Do you want to increase the percentage of employees who refer candidates? 
  • Are bonus tiers incentivizing referrals as expected? 


Use the insight and answers your review provided to define clear goals for your employee referral program that are aligned with your talent acquisition targets. Goals should be specific and measurable, like the following examples:


  • Receive 3 referred candidates for every open position in the manufacturing department. 
  • Increase employee engagement (employees who refer candidates) from 20% to 40%. 
  • Raise the total number of employee referrals in the Northeast Region by 15%. 


Each goal should also have a safety metric component that indicates when targets aren’t being met and triggers a review. For example, if your goal is to raise the total number of employee referrals by 15%, then an increase of 5% or less could serve as a safety metric to indicate the goal is off track. After drafting goals, ask for feedback from others in the organization to make sure there is alignment on desired outcomes. Goals may need to be adjusted as feedback is received. By clearly defining and then refining goals, you can work backwards to achieve them when designing or redesigning your employee referral program



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