Recruitment / Recruitment marketing

Creating an employee referral program

Last updated: November 30, 2018

colleague pointing to a computer screen

Creating an employee referral program

Who better to connect you to potential candidates than your own employees? After all, your employees are uniquely positioned to let their family, friends and acquaintances know what it’s like to work in your district.

An employee referral program is one way to formally encourage employees to refer others, often by offering a small incentive. These programs put the power of a network to work. Given that the average person has more than 300 Facebook friends, even if only a small number of employees participate, you have the potential to connect with a large number of people who could be interested in developing their professional career in your district.

Advantages of an employee referral program

Employee referral programs can help you find great job candidates:

  • Your employees typically have both personal and professional networks of potential candidates who may not be actively looking for a job with your district, but could be encouraged to do so.
  • Your employees can give potential candidates first-hand information about their experience with your district. This can potentially improve the candidate’s “fit” with your district as they already have a strong understanding of your district’s culture.

The numbers add up

Studies show that employee referral programs are better for your bottom line, offering:

  • Higher retention rates: Often double that of conventional hires
  • Reduced time to hire: Up to 55% faster
  • Reduced cost to hire
  • A better hire: 88% of employers said referred candidates are better than average
  • The referred candidate is more likely to accept the job offer

Potential limitations of employee referral programs

Employee referral programs can be a great way to increase your pool of eligible candidates for a position. However, you should keep in mind a few potential drawbacks:

  • Referral programs may not add to your workplace diversity. A diverse staff will positively contribute to your district. Keep this in mind as you are making new hires from referrals.
  • Employees may feel responsible about whether or not their contact is hired. Remind your employees that they are only making recommendations for potential candidates and that these candidates are required to participate in the regular hiring process.

Five steps to create an employee referral program

  1. Choose some incentives.
  2. Decide on your rules, policies and processes.
  3. Promote the program to your employees.
  4. Provide a digital ad to promote your district that can easily be shared by your employees with potential candidates.
  5. Reward your employee after a new hire passes a probationary period.


Incentives will differ based on your budget. Here are two ideas:

  • A gift card for teaching resources – bookstore, teaching supply store, etc.
  • A predetermined amount to be used for professional development – courses, workshops, etc.

Learn more

Providence Health Care offers an employee referral program; their site includes links to program guidelines, a poster and an employee referral form.
• An article on LinkedIn explains why you should develop an employee referral program.
• go2HR talks about the advantages of an employee referral program.