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Implementing an Employee Referral Program: What’s the Best Way To Communicate It?

Firstbird has now become Radancy.

We have merged with Radancy, the global leader in talent technology. Learn more

You cannot not communicate – or can you?

If you’re familiar with Paul Wazlawick’s theory of communication, you’ll know that “one cannot not communicate”. This also applies when implementing an employee referral program internally! If you don’t establish any communication around your referral program, the mere act of non-communicating conveys a specific message and has a correspondingly negative effect. Not promoting it all means it will most likely be a failure from the start! Your employee referral program is brought to life by your employees, and it is kept alive by them. Therefore, the importance placed on communication, especially at the start is a strong factor that will determine the success of your referral program. 

“At the beginning of the project, you have to ask yourself the following questions: Who are my target groups inside the company? Which channels can I use to reach them? And what message should I approach the respective target group with?” Says Martin Sulzbacher, Head of Customer Success at Firstbird

You might think the different stakeholders of the implementation project are well known. On one side, there are TAs, while on the other side there are the employees. That should be simple, right? Wrong! To ensure the successful introduction of Firstbird, it is important to get managers and IT on board at the beginning. And what about the management board and data protection requirements? They should also be taken into consideration at the very start of the project.

“The earlier you involve the respective stakeholders, the greater the chance they will actively support the project and thus make a significant contribution to a successful project start,” explains Sabrina Schiestl, Customer Success Manager at Firstbird.

You cannot not communicate – is this also true during the Covid-19 crisis?

Yes, that also applies during the pandemic! It’s even more important now! The crisis has changed the standard communication channels to some extent, but they still exist, even if we had to rethink them. For example, if employees are working in the home office, a live presentation is probably not the ideal channel to introduce the Firstbird platform. So what now?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

“The crisis has prompted our customers and us too, to adopt new approaches. We replaced Firstbird’s in person introduction that normally occurs in the office with virtual launch events. That worked well and was very well received,” Sabrina Schiestl explained.


Communication is, therefore, a key. But is there a perfect recipe?

Every company has its structures, individual company culture and unique features that need to be considered. So “recipes” do exist, but there are many of them, and they are all quite different from each other, despite having the same ingredients! It’s usually a mix of print and digital communication channels, an added pinch of internal stakeholders to support the project and a good serving of appealing promotional content to employees at the right time. The outcome is a successful launch of the digital your employee referral program, driven by the most valuable stakeholders for referrals – your current employees.

Wazlawick’s first principle is therefore valid. You cannot not communicate. That’s absolutely true – and it’s a good thing!

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