• Reuben Roth

Referral Bonuses

Before starting a new blog post, I undergo extensive Googling to gauge my personal opinion against the masses.


To my surprise, most articles that came up only spoke to the implementation of employee referral systems and the effectiveness of referral bonus amounts.


I have yet to find any articles that support my personal belief on the matter; a referral bonus should amount to precisely zero dollars.


In a world where companies are happily paying out sums between $1,000 and $25,000; I believe that is all wrong.


Let’s run through a quick Do-checklist:

- Do you enjoy your job?

- Do you enjoy your work environment?

- Do you feel like you’re working in a psychologically safe environment?

- Do you want your company to grow?

- Do you think your friends would as well?


Hopefully, you answered yes to all these questions. And, if so, what’s stopping you from referring everyone in your network?


Of course, there are some people you would not choose to work with, but would that change from 5k?


If George is your friend and you want what’s best for him, what’s stopping you from trying to recruit him to your company?


If this is the case, why are companies paying outlandishly large sums of money to get referrals?


Reinvest that money back into the workplace and build a more inclusive environment that fosters growth and happiness.


Why are your employees here?

I once sat in on a meeting to celebrate the employer’s longest-standing employee.

They were celebrating his 4th year at the company. Keep in mind that this company has only been around for five years.


The boss asked him to give a speech on why he stayed for four years.


Awkwardly he responded, “Because I have to pay the bills. It’s a job, and it pays the bills”.

Everyone forced laughs and moved on with their side conversations. It wasn’t until a month after that situation when I realized… woah, what kind of company is this? What are the company’s values? Does the employee know them? Is everyone, including him, held accountable for them?


It would be hard to imagine that one of the values is “To pay the bills.” That would be outlandish. But that begs the question, what was making him feel that way?


When employees can’t commit to a mission, then their work becomes another job. It doesn’t matter what the purpose is, but there has to be a mission to create anything extraordinary or disruptive.


There are places for people who want another job, and that’s totally fine, but is that the type of person you want on your team?


Does your company have a psychologically safe environment?


I first heard this term from a product designer I briefly worked with. I asked her what she looks for in a new company and she responded with “a psychologically safe environment to try new concepts and ideas.”


Immediately I fell in love with this and adopted it for myself.


Let’s lightly touch on a few ideas that make an environment psychologically safe.

First, try to approach conflict collaboratively. Since nobody likes to lose, find a resolution that satisfies both parties. Of course, be reasonable with your solution, but do your best to find a middle ground that’s a win-win for each party.


Second, Respect one another. Everyone is human, and nobody is better than one another. If you honestly believe this, it will build the foundation of empathy to create a respectful environment.


If one of the leads consistently shuts down Jason’s ideas, how will the other employees begin to act toward Jason?


Third, always ask for feedback. Ask your audience how you delivered the message. What messages did the audience receive?


I’m often surprised by the interpretation of my words.


The following questions are great to ask to get thorough feedback:

- What was received from my delivery?

- How did I make you feel?

- How could my delivery improve?


What’s your companies retention rate?

Retention rates can be a touchy topic. What does it mean to you? What type of company are you? What kind of company do you try to be?

There are so many questions that go into the factor of employee retention that it’s hard to know where to start. As the difficulty of hiring software engineers increases, it’s great for companies to learn how to retain talent.

Here are just a few ways to retain top talent:

- Offer Training

- Provide Guidance

- Don’t Punish Competence

- Be transparent


A company is made up of every employee, and each employee represents the company as a whole. We’ve been hearing this line for years, and I can still hear my high school principle repeating these words in my head today.


There’s only truth in that statement. Time and time again, employees will leave their current employer for another because of the culture.


It’s a hard pill to swallow, but did we try everything we could to address our dissatisfactions first? Do we fit into the culture or are we planning to add to it?



I’m not a saint. I’ve run away from problems, confrontations, and anything else that made me slightly uncomfortable. But through active awareness and a consistent desire to build something more, we can begin to change bit by bit.

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