It’s no secret: The healthcare industry is struggling with staffing. Employee referral programs can play a crucial role in addressing this challenge, offering a promising solution to enhance hiring efforts moving forward.

By 2025, the U.S. is expected to have a shortage of over 29,000 nurse practitioners, 98,700 medical and lab technologists, 95,000 nursing assistants, and 446,000 home health aides. If your healthcare practice is short-staffed, you aren’t alone, and the great news is there are effective solutions that you can introduce to start to help this crisis. 

One of the best solutions to consider is an employee referral program. By leveraging referrals, you can gain access to a larger and highly-qualified talent pool. Not only does this save time during recruitment processes, but it also helps you to find great candidates who have already been vetted by your current staff members. 

They give employees incentives for referring people they know in their networks, which leads to better quality hires that tend to stay longer at their jobs – increasing retention rates within the healthcare organization.


Implementing the right recruitment strategy with an employee referral program can effectively address staffing challenges, enabling your organization to hire faster and more efficiently. Moreover, it offers a cost-effective approach that yields greater results than general hiring practices. 

Discover the profound influence an employee referral program can have on the healthcare industry in 2024, and learn effective strategies for its implementation. 

How can referral programs drive healthcare hiring? 

Employee referral programs encourage existing employees to refer their friends and peers to open jobs in your workplace. These programs typically involve an incentive; for example, the referrer receives $500 for every employee they refer whom the company successfully hires. In some cases, the referral may also receive an incentive, like a sign-on bonus as well. 

Referral programs offer several significant benefits within your healthcare hiring process: 

1. Expand employment search 

When inviting existing employees to refer their friends, you expand the search outside of your current networks and potentially reach more people who would be interested in the job. You also mitigate a lot of the legwork associated with traditional hiring protocols.

Healthcare practices generally post job listings on their websites or advertise open positions via online forums like Indeed and Glassdoor. But if potential candidates aren’t actively looking for a new position or aren’t looking for a position in that specific practice, they aren't likely to see these job listings. 

Employees can mention your job opportunities directly to people who may be qualified for the roles but aren’t actively looking for a new job. You’ll reach more potential candidates through an employee referral program. 

2. Find employees who are a good fit 

The candidates who apply for your open positions may not always be the best fit for the role. But through a referral program, you invite employees to think about the friends and peers they know who would be a good fit. 

Employees typically assess candidates in their minds before referring them to a position. Most wouldn’t want to refer someone who ends up being a bad fit and makes them look bad. They also want to ensure the referral has the qualifications for the role, or else they won’t make it through the hiring process. 

Through an employee referral program, you save some of the time involved in assessing candidates and narrowing options. While you’ll still need to interview referrals, you already have some indication they are a good fit for the role. 

Boost your employee referral program with Giftbit!

3. Increase the offer acceptance rate 

Referral programs can also improve your offer acceptance rate, reducing the frequency you extend offers to candidates who don’t accept them. 

An offer acceptance rate lower than 90% means your organization ends up wasting a significant amount of time interviewing candidates and writing up offers for individuals who never end up working in your practice.

When candidates come from employee recommendations, they tend to have a good idea of the work environment, job skills, and responsibilities. As a result, they’ll be more likely to accept an offer you extend to them. 

4. Save your practice time and money 

Talent acquisition is a process that often costs a significant amount of time, energy, and money. Your organization must post ads on job websites, weed through applicants who don’t have the right qualifications, contact candidates about interviews, and spend time interviewing them before going through the process of extending an offer.

Ideally, an employee referral program will cut some of these expenses from your hiring process. You won’t have to spend as much advertising on job boards because your employees will refer candidates directly. While you must pay for referral incentives, they can still be less expensive than other hiring practices that become unnecessary with a proper referral program. 

Here’s what you need to know about employee referral programs and how to launch one successfully. 


Employee referral programs by institution 

Successful employee referral programs look different across institutions. Here are a few types of healthcare practices and tips for structuring referral programs within them. 

Long-term care facilities

Long-term care facilities like nursing homes and rehab centers often have high turnover rates. To reduce turnover, you’ll want to build a referral program that encourages retention in new hires.

If you offer a sign-on bonus to referrals, you may want to pair it with a contract that requires employees to work in the position for at least two years. If they leave before this period ends, they must repay the sign-on bonus. 


Hospitals have dozens or even hundreds of positions, so you must be strategic about who you’re asking for referrals. For example, it may not make sense for someone in the cafeteria to refer a candidate for a role in Labor and Delivery because the referrer doesn’t have much firsthand knowledge of the work culture or duties required on that floor. 

Instead, you may want to limit your referral program by department. If employees want to refer candidates to different departments, they may only have access to a smaller incentive


Giftbit, your employee referral program partner 

You may feel intimidated by building an employee referral program, but Giftbit makes the process simple. This tool can completely automate the incentives you provide to referrers, saving you time while providing high-quality rewards employees want. 

You can integrate Giftbit directly into your healthcare practice management software. When you hire a candidate an employee referred, they can receive an automatic email with a link to a digital gift card code. Then, they can choose a gift card from hundreds of different brands, personalizing their reward.