Achieving Successful Employee Referral Programmes

Thoughtworks are a software consultancy, priding themselves on their cutting-edge technology, innovative thought, and leadership. Asha Beirne is the project manager in their ongoing proposition to reform their current global employee referral programme. Asha also has expertise in global strategy for sourcing and ensuring the highest quality candidates are sought out across all fourteen regions ThoughtWorks currently recruit in. In this talk, she recounted some of the most common issues, some of which were based on data from conference members themselves following their use of the App Slido to send in their questions. The common concerns were noted as being:


  • Candidate attraction and specifically in attracting the best tech-talent
  • How to recruit in a highly competitive market; being aware of your competitors, staying on top of current trends and how to retain candidates
  • How to bridge the skills gap and increase routes to market without being held back by budgeting constraints


Asha explained how employee-referral programmes are capable of resolving all of these issues. Employee-referral has been found to enhance efficiency, reduce costs and also increase employee-satsifaction.


-It takes 8x less candidates to make a hire when using employee-referral programmes

-The rate of offers being accepted is 15% higher than when recruiting external hires

-The cost per hire is also 75% less when using existing employee referrals

-Employer branding and employee referrals are closely tied and in essence are synonymous with one anothe

-Employee referrals are closely tied with employee satisfaction

-Regions with more employee-referral were found to have higher levels of employee referral submissions





The notion of learning from past mistakes is rooted deeply into all of our minds and is something we are told from a young age, but how often do we actually encourage this mentality in the workplace? Asha presented her ideas surrounding employer brand within the framework of 'Fail-Fast': a system which quickly identifies any patterns or conditions that are likely to result in failure. Identifying issues before they even fully manifest as problems is a fool-proof way of ensuring consistency, accuracy and growth.


  • A strong employer brand provides consistency to employees in terms of language used to describe the company, establishing a sense of trust and familiarity
  • An interative approach to technology- reviewing different systems individually and carefully deciding whith to continue using
  • Transparency- managers having in-depth knowlrdge and training in the necessary email templates to use for campaigns surrounding referrals as well as the sort of language to use
  • Global consistency- ensuring that employee referral benefits everyone across the organisation and is accessible to all
  • Efficiency in enhancing the employee experience- ThoughtWorks aim to respond to referral submissions to assure employees that they are valued



Thoughtworks have taken this iterative approach in other areas of their business. Asha stressed the importance of continually reviewing the areas of your business that are working and which aren't. Some of their other observations included the following.

- Probation periods are not significant, with less than 3% of hires actually leaving in this time.

-Employees were often not aware of new opportunities within the company with 68% saying they are unaware of the opportunities going on at any given time. This can be resolved through regular email campaigns, one on one meetings with hires, as well as including referrals in the onboarding process



View Asha Beirne's presentation


Asha Beirne, Global Sourcing Change Lead, ThoughtWorks

"A guide to having a successful employee referral programme"