Referral Culture: What It Is and How to Build it

We’ve all heard about corporate culture and its importance within organizations—now it’s time to talk about referral culture. With employee referrals being a key to recruitment success that more and more companies are becoming aware of, building a referral culture has never been so critical. Employees are at the center of referrals, meaning that for them to work, i.e., see referrals come in, existing employees must be engaged. And what better way to do that than by fostering a culture of referring and having the whole company on board with reaching recruitment success? 
Book a Demo
Build a Great Referral Program
In this article
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Creating a Referral Culture 

    Corporate culture goes hand in hand with referral culture in that it encompasses it: our article on building a good corporate culture drives home how crucial a strong corporate culture is for a motivated workforce. In a similar vein, a strong referral culture is essential for an engaged workforce that actively participates in the company’s referral program.

    When employees are fully aware of the company culture i.e., its core goals and values, and identify with them, they can begin to confidently take part in the referral process. This is owing to the heightened understanding that employees will have of exactly what the company is looking for, and who of their potential referees would be a good cultural fit. 

    By implementing relevant, relatable and desirable values into the corporate culture, a company can benefit from it translating into the success of its referral program. This is because satisfied employees will naturally be inclined to vouch for the company and happily refer others to become a part of it. An enticing corporate culture that entices referees and referrers alike, consequently encouraging a referral culture, is strongly tied to having a solid employer brand that sets the company apart from the competition. 

    Benefits of a Strong Referral Culture

    Referrals are a much sought-after thanks to their plethora of advantages: 

    • Personal and authentic, making the most of a company’s most authentic brand ambassadors—its employees
    • Reaches even the passive workforce
    • Brings in candidates than onboard faster and stay with the company longer
    • Reduces recruiting times and costs

    …the list is endless! 

    Building a sustainable referral culture within the company means that it will be able to consistently reap the recruitment benefits that referrals bring with them. With this culture in place, employees will not only consistently refer, but they will also uphold and build on the company’s existing reputation as THE place to work for. 

    The initiation of the referral process is to share the vacant position(s), which can be done in many ways, from a link via email to a social media post; the latter acts as free promotion for the company, raising its profile and attracting candidates in just one go. 

    Not only that, but the premise of employee referrals shows that company’s trust their employees, so much so that they are encouraging them to refer people to join it. This is a meaningful gesture as it empowers employees with the knowledge that their opinion matters, and is even rewarded (Firstbird’s digital employee referral program rewards smaller activities, including just sharing a vacancy, through its reward shop and points system). With appreciation and recognition being something that many long for in their professional – and personal – lives, a referral program can go a long way. 

    young people having a corporate party on the rooftop

    5 Steps to Fostering a Referral Culture

    1. Work on your corporate culture 

    This is not to be underestimated. A good corporate culture reflects and lives exactly what the company stands for. Identify exactly what your values are and begin to reflect them in every aspect of your employees’ experiences. A clear corporate culture acts as a guide for the entire organization, and without one things could get messy. For example, a corporate culture that values employee wellbeing can be supported with healthy office snacks or a discounted gym membership. 

    2. …and make sure your employees know all about it!

    What use is a carefully-curated corporate culture if no one knows about it? If you want your employees to authentically reflect your company and recognize that the initiatives you have in place, such as hybrid working, are to support its work-life balance values, you need to communicate it clearly. This can be done during the onboarding process, when employees are becoming familiar with both their job position and the company. It can also be reiterated in company meetings, training programs or the internal newsletter. 

    An effective way to instill corporate values is to lead by example i.e., does your company value collaboration? Make sure that every team member gets the opportunity to contribute their two cents on how to approach that important upcoming project. 

    3. Consider all referrals 

    Not every referral will tick all the boxes and ultimately end up as a successful hire, but that need not be the end of the story. Where permissible, add the referred candidates to a talent pool that you can go to in case they are a perfect fit for a future vacancy. This makes referrals more sustainable, proves to employees that their referrers are seriously considered even if not for that particular role and can significantly speed up future recruitments. 

    4. Reward referrals 

    As mentioned above, by rewarding even the smallest of referral activities, employees can feel valued and appreciated. In turn, they are more likely to refer again. Rewards can vary from monetary to non-monetary, and exactly how they are paid out can differ too. Regardless of the logistics, it is evident that rewards are a token of appreciation that go a long way in creating a positive referral culture. You can find out more about rewards in our guide.

    5. Update referees 

    By letting employees know of the status of their referral, from their current stage in the recruitment process to their ultimately successful – or not – application, you are proving to them that their involvement matters. This shows that their referral is not just a drop in the bucket, and that they have been seriously considered within the recruitment pipeline. Successful or not, many prefer to be aware of the progress of their referrals. By allowing this feature, which is made possible by digital referral programs like Firstbird, employees are more likely to keep on referring as they know what has become of their previous referral endeavours. 

    Conclusion

    Referrals are an undeniably desired recruitment tool, and without the participation of a company’s employees, they are non-existent. Employee participation can be encouraged through a referral culture, which is built atop the company’s referral culture. There are several ways that this can be done, from communicating a corporate culture to rewarding referrals. These initiatives can go a long way in creating a sustainable referral culture that brings in the right referrals that a company needs to achieve recruitment success.

    Share now:
    Firstbird and Radancy Are Becoming One Company.
    We are merging with Radancy, the global leader in talent technology.
    You message was sent
    We'll get in touch with you soon