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Build an Employee Referral Program

A well-designed program will become one of your top sources of quality hires while also driving engagement, culture, and brand.

  • Organizations often underestimate what it takes to build a successful employee referral program, suffering unintended consequences such as lack of diversity.
  • Many employees find current employee referral programs to be cumbersome and unclear, leading to a poor employee experience and lack of participation.

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst.

  • Get on-demand project support
  • Get advice, coaching, and insight at key project milestones
  • Go through a Guided Implementation to help you get through your project

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Employee referral programs don't need to be complicated, but they do need to be planful. Design the program to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion; align to your culture and brand; and provide a great employee and candidate experience.

Impact and Result

  • Set program goals aligned to talent acquisition (TA) pain points and strategic talent goals to ensure you achieve the desired impact.
  • Align program design to your culture, employer brand, diversity, equity & inclusion, and employee and candidate experience efforts.
  • Market, collect feedback, and iterate your program like a product.

Build an Employee Referral Program Research & Tools

1. Set program goals

Identify talent acquisition pain points and strategic goals the program will address in order to set program goals, design criteria, and gain approvals.

2. Design the program

Align the program to culture and employer brand efforts and DEI goals, then set program eligibility and parameters and integrate into the talent acquisition process.

3. Market and iterate the program

Create a policy or guidelines for the program and develop a marketing and communications plan.

Build an Employee Referral Program preview picture

About McLean & Company

McLean & Company is an HR research and advisory firm providing practical solutions to human resources challenges via executable research, tools, diagnostics, and advisory services that have a clear and measurable impact on your business.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your HR problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst

Get the help you need in this 3-phase advisory process. You'll receive 5 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation 1: Set program goals
  • Call 1: Review the current of referrals in the organization, discuss TA data analysis and insights, and examine TA pain points and implications for referral program design.
  • Call 2: Discuss strategic talent goals the referral program must drive, and set high-level program goals, metrics, and design criteria.

Guided Implementation 2: Design the program
  • Call 1: Discuss alignment to culture and employer brand efforts and set program eligibility parameters and rewards and recognition for referrers.
  • Call 2: Review assignment of roles and integration of the employee referral process into the TA process.

Guided Implementation 3: Market and iterate the program
  • Call 1: Discuss the marketing and communications plan and review the process to evaluate and iterate the program.


  • Levi Barbosa, Recruiting Operations & Talent Analytics Manager, WeWork
  • Eric Clemons, Senior Manager, Employment Brand Strategies, US Cellular
  • Chandler Cougill, Recruitment Strategy Consultant, Encompass Health
  • Carrie McEachern, Talent Acquisition Manager, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Matt Miller, Employee Referral Specialist, EmployUs
  • Lucy Norman, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Georgiana State, Employee Referral Engagement Specialist, Oracle
  • Lauren Waters, Recruiter, Hubdoc

Search Code: 90130
Last Revised: August 2, 2023