Employee referrals tips, ideas and Zao product updates

Different Reward Types and Ideas for Employee Referrals

Vacation to Thailand I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like being rewarded for their hard work and constant effort. However when it comes to reward preference, this tends to vary from person to person. Whether employees are driven by financial rewards, the reward of social recognition or acting out of pure benevolence, these motivating factors are what effect your employees’ participation in your organization’s referral program.

In order to maximize engagement in your employee referral program, it’s important to offer different reward levels for different actions. Gamification in employee referral programs instantly recognizes the efforts of employees who proactively participate in the recruiting process. In other words, employees are given small rewards and/or recognition for good referral effort (key word here is effort). More advanced gamification systems reward specific desired behaviors such as referring a qualified applicant or an applicant who was interviewed, in addition to offering financial rewards for successful referral hires. 

To increase employee responsiveness in your company’s referral programs, check out these different reward ideas for employee referrals:

Micro Rewards: Begin by offering employees small rewards that can be redeemed immediately.

Micro rewards include:

1. Gift Cards/ Gift Certificates (ex. $25-$50 to Starbucks or Amazon)

2. Movie Tickets

3. Thank You Letter

4. Gym Membership

5. Kindle Fire

6. Personalized Office Supplies

7. A Short Article of Recognition in the newsletter

8. Complimentary Breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner

9. Netflix/Hulu Subscription

10. Personal Day Off

11. Small Charity Donation

12. Reserved Parking Spots

13. Send Flowers

14. Tickets to Sporting Events/ Theatre Shows


Macro Rewards: Set higher rewards for hard to fill and urgent positions!

Macro rewards include:

1. Weekend Getaway

2. Wine Tasting/ Trip to Brewery

3. A New Car

4. Apple Watch

5. Day at a Resort

6. International Vacation

7. Pay Raise/ Added Benefits

8. Gas Card

9. Tuition Reimbursement/ Learning Opportunities

10. Large Check

11. GoPro


Cash Rewards: Cash rewards for referrals are the #1 incentive for getting employees to participate in your company’s programs. A minimum referral reward of $1,000 is recommended. Zao’s data report found that employee engagement is the highest for rewards between $2,500 and $5,000.

Have any referral reward ideas to add? Let us know in the comments


Written by Katie Considine, Social Media and Marketing at Zao