The Best Way to Gut Check Your Company Culture = An Employee Referral Program

Chris Skaggs  @chrislskaggs


An employee referral program may be the single best indicator of a successful, thriving, and envious company culture. If employees want their friends to work at your company, KUDOS, you’re doing something right! Your company should take it as a huge compliment if your people are referring their friends. Not only should you take it as a compliment, you should encourage it.

According to our good friend Merriam-Webster, the simple definition of a friend is a person who you like and enjoy being with; a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or a charity).

I’d be highly suspicious of anyone who I called a friend recommending I come work at their horrendous company and be subjected to the terrible environment and culture. It just doesn’t happen: friends don’t let friends work at bad companies. That should be a bumper sticker or something!

I’ll readily admit, we were skeptical of implementing an employee referral program at TSP. Would we get hundreds of unqualified resumes? Would employees be upset if we didn’t interview/select their referral? Would turnover increase and cliques form? If you dangle the almighty dollar in front of someone, would integrity be thrown out the window and referrals get submitted just to earn a buck? The list could go on and on.

Even with all the unknowns, there are many advantages to implementing a robust employee referral program. For one, referred employees are already somewhat connected. They aren’t walking into a completely strange environment. Sure, the referring employee gets some money in their pocket, but they get something much more than that. They get to say, “I got my buddy a job!” and “I helped our company fill a position!” That kind of satisfaction is priceless.

The other thing we found out is when an employee refers their friend, they are putting their neck on the line too. They are vouching for their friend saying, “I trust this person and you should too.” We’ve found employees take that aspect very seriously. Good employees don’t let bad employees work at good companies!

Liz Ryan, a contributor at Forbes, said it best, “Employee referral is the best recruiting channel I know. It is certainly not the only one, but it’s the only one that reinforces and celebrates your employees in a tangible way for contributing to your company’s success.”

Since we started the program just under two years ago, 144 candidates have been referred by our employees. Of those 144, we’ve hired 43 employees and to date paid out $14,750 to our referring employees. While we’ve seen some great initial success, and for that we are proud, there is definitely more work to be done. Many of our employees are remote and with one physical office location, communicating open positions to employees scattered across the country can be challenging.

Bottom line, we love to pay employees for a job well done, whether it be through our Caught In The Act recognition program or through employee referral bonuses. We are glad we implemented an employee referral program and look forward to it growing in referrals AND payouts in 2016 and beyond.

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