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Employee referral programs are a cost-effective and efficient way to attract ideal candidates. With the right incentives for employees who refer, they can also be a great way to increase engagement and show employees that they’re appreciated. Here’s how to set up an employee referral program in healthcare. 

What Are Some of the Benefits of Employee Referral Programs? 

There’s plentiful evidence of the benefits of employee referral programs. Here are some of the most compelling facts. 

  • According to Glassdoor, referred candidates are 2.6% – 6.6% more likely to accept the job.
  • Referred candidates are 55% faster to hire, compared with employees sourced through career sites. 
  • The difference in how long employees stay between referral and non-referral hires is significant, with 50% of all referral employees staying in their position for at least three years.

We lay out more of the benefits of an employee referral program here

How to Set Up an Employee Referral Program

Healthcare organizations, especially long-term care, have specific needs. Your healthcare employee referral program needs to reflect this. Here’s how to set up an employee referral program that will help you find committed, qualified, and passionate workers who are ready to grow within your organization.

Choose a Platform

Employee referral programs can be as complex as you make them. Some organizations may choose to use common tools, such as Google forms, Google sheets, or Excel to track their referrals. This strategy can get messy fast, especially if you want to track the success of your program over time. 

Consider using applicant tracking or human capital management software to manage your employee referral program. A user-friendly employee referral platform can make things easier in the long-run, limiting the amount of administrative labor for your team while maximizing ease-of-use for employees. HCM software can integrate with your onboarding, credentialing, and background check process, making it simple to move a referred candidate down the hiring pipeline. HCMs are also much more secure than informal spreadsheets and forms; remember, employees are trusting you with the private information of those they know in their personal life. 

Decide on Rewards 

If you want to set up an employee referral program that’s genuinely fruitful, look into rewards. 

Most employee referral programs come with an incentive for employees who submit referrals. The type and amount of your reward may affect the success of your program. 

Here are two of the most popular rewards. 

Financial Rewards

Financial rewards are fairly straightforward. Every employee who makes a successful referral gets some kind of monetary bonus. 

However, different organizations will have different strategies when it comes to financial rewards. For example, you could prorate your rewards by offering larger bonuses to employees who refer senior level hires. As an affordable alternative, you could enter every person who submits a referral into a raffle for a larger reward.

You could also offer rewards for any employee who submits a referral, even if they don’t turn into successful hires. Be careful, though, as you want to encourage quality referrals over quantity.

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Experiential Rewards 

Experiential rewards are rewards that offer some kind of activity or opportunity.. This could include things like a ticket to a local amusement park, free meal vouchers, or access to a preferred parking spot for a month. 

There’s room to get creative here. Consider partnering with local businesses to increase your name recognition in the community while simultaneously boosting your program. 

Make it a Competition 

Try using some friendly competition to give your employee referral program a jumpstart. See what employee (or what team) can submit the most referrals within a specific time frame. 

You don’t want employees to submit unqualified candidates, so make sure there are guidelines in place. The winner of the competition could receive a financial or experiential reward. 

Market Your Program

In the busy atmosphere of a healthcare workplace, it’s easy for an employee referral program to slip under your staff’s radar. If you set up an employee referral program but don’t market it, it may not be successful. 

In order to keep receiving returns on your referral program, you need to make sure it’s top of mind. Create an internal marketing program to ensure employees are aware of your program. Once you have an internal marketing strategy in place, standardize it across all facilities for the greatest returns. 

Here are some ways to market your program. 


Sometimes, there’s no beating an old-fashioned marketing technique. Placing posters in areas such as break rooms, hallways, and next to the time clock. can raise awareness for almost no cost.

QR Code Activation 

For an easy way to bridge your analog and digital marketing methods, try including a QR code on your fliers that takes user directly to a referral form.

Creating a QR code is easier than you might think, and the effort pays off. If you post fliers without a scannable code, employees might forget the instructions by the time they access their phone or laptop. But with a QR code, they can quickly pull up the employee referral platform without losing a beat. 

Company Social Media 

Internal social media can be a great way to remind candidates of referral programs and associated rewards. Slack channels, Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts can remind employees to submit that referral they’ve been thinking about.  

Track Your Success 

Before you start an employee referral program, decide on your most valued metrics, such as number of successfully hired employees, number of incoming referrals, increased employee engagement, or more. Experiment with different marketing strategies, such as competitions and social media campaigns, to see what brings in more and better quality referrals. 

Better Hiring With Apploi 

We’ve covered what you need to know about how to set up an employee referral program. Using the right software can help you bring in referred candidates with minimal administrative labor. Apploi is here to help. Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end talent management solution.




Jenny Ortiz

Jenny Ortiz is a strategic marketer with over 15 years of experience in creative, marketing, and advertising. She specializes in developing best-in-class solutions around media diversification, employer brand, candidate journeys, and engagement in order to help healthcare companies attract top talent. Outside of the office, she is an advanced open water scuba diver and a lover of international travel, and enjoys spending quality time with friends and family.