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How NextRoll created an employee referral program: Roller Referral Winter Olympics 

September 21, 2023

Some of the best candidates come from internal referrals. So how do Talent teams engage their internal folks to find high-quality talent? They get creative!

NextRoll’s Talent Experience & Acquisition team, led by Jody Atkins, VP of Talent Experience & Acquisition, did just that by launching an internal referral contest tied to the Winter Olympics at the beginning of 2022.

The team, which included Molly Rhodes, Manager II, Talent Acquisition, encouraged Rollers (NextRoll employees) to compete in the Roller Referral Olympics and vie for the gold, silver, or bronze prizes by referring potential hires from their personal networks. 

During the winter of 2022, Jody and her team had critical roles to fill on NextRoll’s Sales and Engineering teams, among others. So the Talent Experience & Acquisition team  launched the contest to find the best candidates in record time. 

Here’s how they used creativity and support from leadership to fill high-priority roles that would be integral to meeting business revenue targets. 

Gamifying employee referrals

Rollers earned points for each stage of the interview process. A phone interview (5 points), an onsite interview (10 points), and ultimately a hire (15 points) meant 30 points could be won for each referral. Rollers would accumulate points for any referrals (no limit) who made it to some stage of the hiring process. 

What was at stake? First, second, and third prizes – just like the Olympics. Instead of gold, silver, and bronze medals, Rollers received gift cards.

In addition to the prizes offered during the Referral Olympics, NextRoll also offered cash referral bonuses for each referred hire. These referral bonuses vary in amount depending on the degree of difficulty in finding talent.

Keeping employee attention

Ensuring the contest remained top-of-mind with Rollers made for an extra effective campaign. By using Slack reminders, and sharing fun video clips and graphics, NextRoll’s Talent team kept the referrals rolling throughout the contest. 

1. Frequent reminders sent on Slack

Rollers who profited from referral bonuses in the past shared videos about how they found relevant candidates and gave advice for other Rollers participating in the Roller Winter Olympics.

Members of the senior leadership team also sent  out emails to encourage referrals and participation in the contest. 

The Talent team, including Molly (as you can see above), would engage Rollers on NextRoll’s Slack channels to keep the contest top of mind and the participation high.

2. Promo videos sharing the update over the course of the campaign

The Talent Acquisition team dressed up in their best Winter Olympics fashion and promoted the contest in videos, which they shared over Slack and email. Having fun is a staple in NextRoll’s company culture, and these videos showed that! 

3. Helpful campaign FAQs 

Since NextRoll is a global company with a distributed workforce, it was vital to create a FAQ document that answered important questions and could be easily accessed by people in any time zone. Here are a few examples of items on NextRoll’s FAQ:

Q: Where do I learn about roles that we currently have available?

A: Check out all our open roles on our careers site. To get folks to reach out to you, you can also proactively share our open roles with your professional contacts via networks like LinkedIn, and chat with them about the opportunity. Referrals must be added to Greenhouse to be eligible and counted. If you can’t find a particular role to add your referral to, email or slack us for support. You can also refer to the Internal Jobs Slack channel for new job postings.

Q: What do I need to make a referral?

A: Have your referral’s LinkedIn profile or resume ready to upload to Greenhouse (see details on how to upload the information to Greenhouse below).

Q: How do I earn points to win prizes?

A: The first step is ensuring the referral’s background/competencies align with the job description. Job descriptions can be found on our careers site. Any candidates who make it to the Phone Interview stage (and beyond) will earn you points! Contact the Talent Acquisition team if you have questions about someone’s qualifications for the position. 

Phone Interview = 5 points

Face to Face Interview = 10 points

Hire = 15 points

Points accumulate so if you make a hire, you get 30 points in total (5+10+15)

Only referrals submitted from January 1, 2022, to March 31, 2022 count in your point accumulation

Q: If I make a referral, when will a recruiter reach out to them?

A: We aim to review referred candidates within 24-72 hours.

Q: What prizes are awarded for this contest?

A: There will be a Gold, Silver, and Bronze winner 

Q: When does the contest end?

The Roller Referral Winter Olympics will be held throughout Q1 of 2022 – the final day of the Olympics will be held on Thursday, March 31st, and winners will be announced after the tallies are counted at the start of Q2. You can follow the contest leaders on the #all_anounce channel on Slack.

Q: Who is eligible to participate?

A: Only regular full-time and regular part-time employees are eligible to participate. Only referrals of full-time candidates will be eligible (excludes contractors, temporary employees, and interns). People, Talent Acquisition and ELT members are excluded from the program. The Referrer is not eligible for the Referral Bonus if the Referral hired reports directly to the Referrer or is in the Referrer’s reporting line. Active candidates who are already known to NextRoll through ongoing recruiting efforts will not be included as a referral. Referrals of previously interviewed NextRoll candidates (within the past 12 months) will be excluded from the program. Referred candidates who have been previously employed by NextRoll will not be included as a referral. Any eligible referrals submitted from January 1st, 2022 through March 31st, 2022 will be counted towards the event, and will be included in the final tally.

If you have a non-solicit agreement with a previous company, please honor it. The Referrer is not eligible for the bonus if the Referrer violates a non-solicit agreement with a prior company. If you have any questions, please reach out to the People and Legal teams. 

Sharing the results

Besides having a lot of fun and bringing the Talent Experience & Acquisition team’s efforts to light, NextRoll successfully engaged  277 qualified referrals, of which 10 were hired! The Talent team kept those not hired in their ATS (Applicant Tracking System) with hopes of re-engaging them once an aligning role became available.

The team presented the engagement data with the wider organization at NextRoll (see their slide deck). The Talent Acquisition team shared the referral leaderboard and briefed everyone on who ranked first, second and third in the competition.

NextRoll also partnered with an employee gifting platform to extend their rewards to all participants who submitted referrals, which may not have led to a hire, but contributed to the candidate pipeline.

Finally, even during the employee referral program, NextRoll had already started preparing for its next referral event and shared teasers to keep Rollers engaged and focused on referrals. The NextRoll team recognizes that strong talent knows strong talent, and the organization benefits when it hires people with a reputation for success. 

NextRoll found a way to promote its fun culture while working toward hiring goals through this campaign, which teams of all sizes can learn from! 

What hiring campaign are you working on? Be sure to share how these tips may have helped you!

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