5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Employee Referrals

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ERIN Employee Referral Software Platform

With the “talent-war” heating up, businesses of all shapes and sizes are re-evaluated their recruitment processes to find ways to source the best talent and fill open positions faster. When looking for ways to boost recruitment efforts, employee referrals are usually top of the list. While businesses sophisticated enough to go through this process typically already have an employee referral policy in place, it’s not as effective as they’d like it to be, usually for one simple reason: employees aren’t making enough referrals.

Does this mean that your employee referral policy is bad? Not necessarily. There are many reasons why employees choose not to participate in recruitment and fail to make employee referrals – even when your policy and incentives are strong.

The Process / Policy Isn’t Known
When’s the last time you’ve shared your referral policy with your employees? Have you done a refresher on how to actually make a referral? Maybe this was only covered in orientation (along with a hundred other things), or it’s been a few years, but if your employees don’t know the actual process they have no idea how to properly participate. This can actually turn into an intimidating experience for the employee, completely turning them off to participating in your recruitment process.

This problem becomes exponentially worse in larger organizations. The move removed an employee is from the hiring manager and recruiters the less likely they are to participate with our clear and easy instructions.

They Don’t Know About Open Positions
There are two places where communication is critical for a successful employee referral program: communicating that jobs are being recruited for and communication what happens after a referral is made. 

Employees need to be kept in the loop on recruitment in a meaningful way. By meaningful we mean that they cannot be bombarded with hundreds of open jobs – it’s overwhelming and exhausting. Only notify employees of positions they are more likely to help recruit for – such as position in their department or at their location

Post-Referral Communication
Once an employee makes a referral it’s critical to keep them in the loop on what happens. Did the person every apply? Did you ever interview them? Did you hire them? Did the employee earn their referral bonus? Keeping employees in the loop prevents them from having a negative experience and has a big effect in encouraging repeat referrals, even if you don’t hire the first ones.

Your Job Board Isn’t Designed For Referrals
We mentioned above that bombarding employees with too many jobs is overwhelming, and this will happen on a job board (or they will never look at it), but it’s also important to call out the fact that your job board was never intended to be used for employee referrals.

Does your job board show how much an employee can earn with a hired referral? Does it allow them to make a referral with a click of a button – or simply just show information about the job? Does it guide them through the process of making a referral? Most likely not, because job boards aren’t designed to work this way. They aren’t there for the employees, they are there for the candidates.

Believe it or not, it’s not the amount of the bonus that has a big effect on referrals (see more about that here), but simply if you have a bonus or not. If you’re not willing to invest in employees that help your business grow, then they aren’t willing to invest in helping you grow.


At ERIN we have worked with hundreds of companies, all unique in their own way, to aid in engaging employees to be active participants in recruitment. Your policy may be broken (or may not exist), but most likely it’s the execution and maintenance of the policy that doesn’t work for your business. See more on how ERIN’s features simplify the management of your policy and makes referrals easier than ever for your employees.