The Great Unburdening: Understanding employee burnout in foodservice

The Great Unburdening: Understanding employee burnout in foodservice

The past few years have been an extremely difficult period for many frontline workers,  leading to employee burnout in a number of different industries and roles. And it’s no surprise – the pandemic and associated impacts have influenced and, at times, altogether changed the ways we do things. 

But some of the most significantly affected are restaurant workers. Not only are they navigating an ever-evolving landscape and environment, they also need to do so burdened with longer work hours and staffing issues resulting in greater responsibility within their jobs. It’s a combination that Sylvain Charlebois, food industry expert and Senior Director at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, says is resulting in employee burnout and stress.

“Employee burnout within the foodservice industry has become a big problem that employers need to figure out,” says Charlebois. 

“The sector has been under tremendous pressure, battling rising food prices, supply chain issues, and heightened guest expectations. And all of this is happening during a labor crisis. The past couple of years, which have consisted of daily changing market conditions, have resulted in a great deal of uncertainty for everyone involved. Many restaurants have closed for good. Some of them were institutions. This kind of unpredictability causes overwhelming anxiety for many.”

Causes of employee burnout in restaurant workers

Charlebois explains that there are a number of factors that are contributing to the employee burnout currently threatening the foodservice industry. First and foremost, as a result of an ongoing labor shortage, many restaurants and other foodservice establishments have been operating understaffed, some of them severely so. This places undue pressures on staff who are expected to pick up the slack left behind by departed colleagues. And, of course, the fallout from the COVID-19 global pandemic has also taken its toll on foodservice employees, resulting in what Charlebois describes as a “larger mental health issue.”

“Impacts of the pandemic have resulted in a great deal of uncertainty for many restaurant employees within the foodservice sector,” he says. 

“They’ve been showing up to work every day generally unsure as to the safety and security of their jobs as well as the health of the businesses they’re working for. In addition, many of their jobs and the way they used to do things changed overnight. The ways they interact with and serve the customer changed. Some establishments also introduced new services like curbside pickup which requires new skills, new equipment and new ways of doing things. As a result, many had to essentially retrain themselves, on the fly, in order to continue doing their job effectively. It’s all caused an incredible amount of stress and adds up to a big mental health issue that operators within the foodservice sector have got to address.”

How employee burnout impacts foodservice organizations

The negative effects of poor mental health for individuals are obvious and debilitating. And, for organizations, the impacts can also be detrimental, stunting productivity and hindering progress and growth. However, Charlebois points out perhaps the most draining impact that a burnt-out workforce can have on an organization is the increased turnover that it invariably causes. 

Wellness program developer Limeade’s 2021 survey talked specifically to employees who started a new job in 2021. It found that a whopping 52% of workers within the foodservice and hospitality industries who left their jobs did so due to burnout. The study also found that those who left their job without another job lined up were 1.7x more likely to cite workplace mental health impact as their top reason for leaving.

Further, Nudge’s recently released Foodservice Deskless Report finds that 38 per cent of foodservice frontline workers currently wish to quit their jobs, with burnout among the top three reasons for doing so. It’s a worrisome trend, says Charlebois, who believes that it couldn’t be happening at a worse time, given the current criticality around attracting and retaining talent.

“The greatest impact that employee burnout has on an organization is the way in which it erodes the workplace culture,” he says. 

“It shows up in absenteeism and employees not fulfilling their entire duties. It leads to discontent and, at times, an embittered and antagonistic workforce that does not feel valued or cared for. Suddenly, establishments and businesses are left with a decayed culture that’s driving employees out and turning away the interest of prospective workers. And, right now, given the near-impossible task of recruiting talent, restaurant managers are finding it extremely difficult to run successful locations.”

Developing programs and initiatives to improve employee burnout

In order to deal with this incredibly important workforce issue, some organizations are beginning to develop and implement mental health and wellness programs to help care for employees and enable them to succeed. 

Burger restaurant chain Wendy’s, for instance, says that it is taking a more holistic approach to employee wellness than it has in the past, instituting training programs meant to assist managers in becoming more sensitive to mental health issues. Chick-fil-A recently adopted a program called Abound which provides employees with access to a wellness coach who can help address mental health and wellness concerns, among other things. Others within the industry that are following suit.

The development and implementation of these programs and initiatives are a positive sign, says Charlebois, that organizations are beginning to pay more attention to their employees’ concerns, focusing more on providing them with solutions and support. He adds that it’s all rooted in listening and proper communication from management. In fact, according to Nudge’s Foodservice Deskless Report, it’s exactly what many organizations are realizing, with 76% of leaders within the sector committing to investing more into the employee experience. More than a third (36%) plan to invest more into communication and a quarter (25%) plan to invest more in feedback.

“Taking a good look at the organization’s communication and engagement with employees is a very good place for leaders within the foodservice sector to start in terms of addressing employee burnout and concerns over mental health,” says Charlebois.  

“And they should do so through a lens of compassion, asking themselves whether or not their employees feel cared for. They’ve got to convey the message to their employees that their work environment is a safe place for them to share any difficulties, personal or otherwise, that they might be facing. The pandemic has brought a new dimension of consideration to the workforce, and it’s becoming vitally important that employers understand that the challenges faced today are not just about a disrupted supply chain or inflation. It’s also very much about the people that they rely on to achieve success.”

Upcoming live webinar: How to give your retail workers what they want

Upcoming live webinar: How to give your retail workers what they want

Long gone are the days when Employee Experience (EX) was just an HR play. Giving your frontline workers what they want – and need – to thrive at work is a clear path to better efficiency, performance, execution, and more. 

We’re teaming up with the National Retail Federation for an exclusive new webinar: Want to drive retention, revenue, and operational execution? Give your retail workers what they want.

Nudge is bringing together exclusive market research, real-world examples, and a decade of experience working with top retail brands to answer this critical question: what do retail workers want? Nudge COO Jordan Ekers is joined by Tania Walsh, Manager of Digital Communications Strategy at Telus, and Kathryn Williams, Manager of Retail Communications at Michael Kors to explore what initiatives and programs to implement to see a true impact, fast. 

Watch this webinar to learn:

  • Why retailers need to tap into the needs and wants of their workforce
  • Why workers crave a sense of purpose at work – and how to bake that into your EX
  • The importance of employee community and DE&I programs
  • How effective employee communication ties it all together

This is the webinar that retailers can’t afford to miss. Save your spot today!

The true value of investing in retail employee training and development

The true value of investing in retail employee training and development

Retail operation is, regardless of the category or vertical, a complex ecosystem comprising a number of different layers and components. From location, product assortment, and pricing to merchandising, marketing, and inventory management, each cog in the retail wheel needs to be functioning at a near-optimal level in order to contribute toward the overall success of any organization. 

But  efforts made by retailers within these areas wouldn’t be possible without its people. According to Kevin Graff, retail training and development expert and Founder and President of business management consulting firm Graff Retail, the current talent shortage blighting the industry should make retailers take notice of the value and differentiating potential inherent in providing strong employee training and development for their employees.

“If you expect your employees to remain within your organization, it has to be about more than just showing up to work,” Graff says. 

“It’s death just waiting to happen if employees are turning up for shifts for the sake of working shifts. What opportunities are you providing for them to learn, collaborate, share ideas, grow and develop? People have always wanted these opportunities. But today, there seems to be a growing expectation of them. If an employee isn’t happy within their job, there are about ten other jobs they can get tomorrow. So, why are they going to continue working within their current jobs? If the retailer isn’t going to nurture their employees and help them grow as individuals, they’re going to need to pay them lots of money and offer phenomenal benefits. But, that’s a short-lived game because eventually someone else comes along and offers more money and better benefits.”

Graff goes on to underscore the importance of providing retail employees with training and development opportunities, stressing the significance in doing so toward satisfying their needs and improving the experience enjoyed by today’s workforce. 

In fact, his notion is supported by findings within a recent LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report which reveals that an astounding 94% of employees say that the provision of learning and development opportunities would be a strong enticement for them to remain in their current jobs. And, the increasing demand for learning is especially true among younger generations, with more than a quarter (27%) of the Millennial and Gen Z cohorts stating that a lack of training represents the number one reason they’d consider leaving their jobs.

Given this growing sentiment around training and development, it seems clear that offering employees the right learning opportunities will help merchants and businesses significantly decrease turnover. However, Graff says that employee training isn’t just a powerful tool that can be leveraged to retain talent within the organization. There are numerous other benefits that can enhance the business and the employee experience, not to mention differentiate the brand from competitors:

1. Increased employee engagement

One of the most compelling and meaningful benefits that results from providing employees with opportunities to grow, says Graff, is their increased engagement with the brand and its objectives.

“How do you, as a business owner, get your employees to care as much about the business as you do? By providing your employees with the right opportunities to learn and grow, they start to understand and connect to the vision of the business, which then supports their ability to execute on the brand promise and work toward its overarching objectives.”

2. Greater clarity concerning roles

Along with increased engagement, Graff points out that by building employee learning and development processes, retailers also help define expectations within the organization, creating a basis for employee success.

“Effective training and development go a long way toward clarifying roles for employees, reinforcing through this type of investment the fact that they’re incredibly important to the business. It defines expectations from a behavior perspective and helps employees better understand how they’re contributing to the success of the business and their colleagues.”

3. Enhanced collaboration and performance

A greater understanding of their individual roles and the roles of their colleagues, explains Graff, then results in increased collaboration and performance. In fact, according to recent Gartner research, employees who have received adequate development opportunities within their organizations are 44% more likely to be high performers than those who have not been offered the same or similar formalized training.

“It just makes sense that an engaged employee who understands their role within the company will be more able and willing to execute at high levels. And when you put your employees in this kind of position, you’ll see a consistent rise in average basket size, conversion rates and ultimately sales.”

4. Sparking creativity and innovation

In addition to increased employee output, another layer of performance that’s positively impacted by the implementation of employee training and development is the levels of creativity and innovation within the organizations offering it.

“An employee who feels valued and important with respect to the overall goals and objectives of the business is an employee who wants to share ideas and insights,” says Graff. 

“It’s as simple as that. And when your entire staff feel this way, collaborating and contributing toward the success of the business, everyone wins.”

5. Improved employee and customer experience

Despite the many benefits that result from providing employees with learning and growth opportunities, Graff insists that the greatest payoff is in the enhanced experience that customers of the brand receive. After all, he says, providing exceptional service is what retail’s all about.

“As a result of a recent decrease in foot traffic to physical brick-and-mortar stores, interaction with the consumer is more important today than ever before. Store managers don’t often control the product selection, price, store design, or really much of anything else within the store. But where they do have impact is in the performance of their staff. How you hire, train, manage, coach and lead your employees is directly correlated to the levels of staff knowledge and quality of service that’s provided and, as a result, satisfaction among consumers.”

Considering the current talent shortage faced by retailers across the industry, a shortage that’s presenting significant challenges with respect to staffing frontline customer-facing positions, Graff suggests that the time is now for organizations that are looking to develop or enhance their training for frontline staff.

“For retailers that don’t have an employee training program within their business, they have to get started on building internally today, and they have to move fast.”

However, he adds that as important as the creation of a training and development regimen is, so, too, is the consistent review and analysis of the needs of the business and employees, as well as the effectiveness of the employee training offered.

“Training and development programs should be constantly evolving. They’ve got to align with the changing needs of the business, the expectations of employees and evolving consumer behaviour, tastes and preferences. If you’re not doing a top to bottom review and analysis of your training programs on an annual basis in the least, it’s like having a binder in the cupboard that nobody looks at. The implementation and execution of training and development programs are important. But the reinforcement strategy is equally critical in keeping the program alive and functioning optimally.”

As the world moves collectively toward a resumption of ‘normal’ activity and people in communities everywhere begin to venture out more in search of experiences, increasing physical retail footfall, it’s clear that the quality of in-store service and interaction is going to be paramount in determining success and failure. As a result, it will be the employees on the retail frontlines who will be responsible for delivering these outcomes, rendering the investment in the training, growth and development of their skills the most important for retailers to make going forward.

How developing a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion can attract and retain top retail talent

How developing a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion can attract and retain top retail talent

We’ve been talking a lot over the past few weeks about what retail workers want, and how retail organizations can overcome The Great Resignation by changing the way they support their staff. Today, we’re exploring how investing in diversity, equity and inclusion can attract and retain top retail talent. 

Getting top retail talent to your organization can prove, during the most certain of times, to be immensely challenging. And, given the importance of staffing stores with the right people for the right roles in order to deliver on the experience customers are expecting, the need for retailers to do so is critical.

To support the objective, retailers must possess a deep understanding of the needs of today’s retail workforce, an appreciation for the things they’re looking for from prospective employers and a willingness to deliver on those needs and wants. And, at the very top of the list is a yearning to be part of a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace environment.

In fact, according to a recent McKinsey & Company survey, developing and fostering strong diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives within any retail organization is paramount today with respect to attracting talent. The survey reveals that 39% of all respondents stated that they have either turned down or decided not to pursue a job because of a perceived lack of inclusion at an organization. 

But… What exactly is DE&I within the retail context? How does the development of these initiatives help support staffing efforts? And, how can retail businesses take the first steps toward achieving such a culture within their organizations? 

What is diversity, equity and inclusion?

Diversity, equity and inclusion within retail refers to the efforts undertaken by organizations to create a more welcoming workplace environment for prospective employees. According to Anne-Marie Pham, Executive Director at the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, these efforts should encompass the entirety of society and take into account the many faces and voices that it’s composed of.

“Retailers that are looking to develop strategies and initiatives aimed at creating a more comfortable and inviting environment for their employees need to consider every dimension of diversity,” says Pham. 

“That includes gender, sexual orientation and identification, race, religious and cultural backgrounds, languages spoken, levels of ability and more. And, because we now have the social permission in Canada to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, driven primarily by global events over the last year-and-a-half, many retail workers across the country, particularly among the younger generations, are seeking employment with brands that are purpose-driven and aligned with their values of respect for all.”

Why should retailers care about diversity?

Fostering diversity and inclusion throughout the retail organization, from head office executive positions all the way down to in-store associates, makes perfect sense from a customer acquisition point-of-view. Those who can properly reflect the ever-expanding social tapestry of Canadian society will almost assuredly generate an eclectic range of foot traffic to their storefronts. And, says Pham, it’s an effective recruitment tool as well.

“In order to function optimally, retail organizations must rely heavily on many individuals from an array of different backgrounds. So, from a talent acquisition and retention perspective, DE&I initiatives provide merchants and brands with an excellent opportunity to create a culture that will appeal to a range of diverse talent, offering them an environment where they want to go to work every day,” says Pham. 

“It’s an environment that should encourage everyone to bring their whole selves to work, including aspects of their background, lived experiences and life circumstances, facilitating and supporting a sense of belonging for everyone.” 

The benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion in retail

In addition to the development of DE&I initiatives fundamentally and ethically being the right thing for retailers and other businesses to undergo, the productivity and related financial benefits that organizations receive as a result are significant. 

According to a recent survey conducted by The Harvard Business Review of 1,700 companies around the world, those operating with an above-average level of diversity within their organizations experience 19% greater innovation revenues and 9% higher earnings before taxes. And, in Pham’s estimation, it’s all the result of a more engaged and inspired workforce.

“If a welcoming and comfortable environment is developed, one that makes employees feel included and respected, a level of trust and loyalty to the employer will become a natural consequence,” she says. 

“In turn, their trust results in higher levels of engagement, which then leads to greater collaboration and productivity, bringing out the most thoughtful and innovative ideas, enabling any retailer or brand to be much more responsive to the needs of an ever-changing market.”

For a real-world example of the benefits that can result from DE&I initiatives and the development of a truly inclusive work culture, one needn’t look any further than global retail giant Walmart. According to Statista, the company posted worldwide sales in excess of $711 billion in 2021, up from $666 billion in 2020 and $654 billion in 2019. They are earnings that are reflective of the significant year-over-year increases in revenue experienced by the multinational corporation. And, according to comments made during an interview with Winsight Grocery Business by former Walmart DE&I Director, Donald Fan, they are financial results that are made possible by the company’s culture of diversity.

“By embedding equity into the talent lifecycle, you enrich your employees’ experience; thus, you accelerate their engagement and productivity and make your team high performing, dynamic, and resilient,” explained fan. 

How to begin building a culture of DE&I

A recent global survey conducted by Mercer found that 74% of participating companies reported to have been placing greater focus and emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives midway through the COVID-19 pandemic, with 64% actively reviewing talent management processes, such as hiring, in an effort to identify and mitigate potential biases.

For retailers that are committed to developing a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion, but have yet to formalize their strategy, Pham says that there are a few steps they can take to properly and effectively kickstart the process.

1. Commit to learning

Retailers that are new to the DE&I conversation must be open and willing to learn more about the topic and about the lived experiences of individuals. “Read books about DE&I, watch documentaries and read the news in order to understand and build compassion and empathy concerning the many systemic challenges that many face when accessing equality and inclusion within the workplace. Through this education, leaders will gain a greater sense of humility, compassion, understanding, and a heightened awareness of themselves in relation to others,” she says.

2. Conduct an honest assessment

Retailers will want to conduct an assessment of their organizations, the representation on staff and how internal DE&I initiatives might improve their level of diversity and inclusion. “Listen to the concerns of your employees and customers. This can be done through surveys and one-on-one conversations with team members at different levels of the organization,” says Pham. 

“It can also include the engagement of a third-party expert who can help review current policies and practices. This will allow retailers to understand whether or not there are any real or perceived barriers to employment or equity within the organization, as well as help them to identify any unconscious biases that can negatively influence the ways they do outreach, screen applicants, conduct interviews and make their selection at the end of the day.”

3. Commit to change

In order to put the education and assessment to practical use, retailers should determine what is required of them in order to effect actual change within their organizations. “Influencing this kind of change often requires a shift in mindset and philosophy which always starts at the top,” says Pham. 

“To do so effectively, leaders must determine which resources will be required and whether or not a budget is necessary in order to create the positive impact that they desire. And, everyone must be involved in the shift at the executive level of the organization to lay the foundation and set the direction for others to follow.”

Pham goes on to explain that the creation of a workplace environment that is truly diverse, equitable and inclusive requires a substantial amount of dedication, commitment and hard work. And, she adds, it also requires time to develop plans and initiatives and implement the right policies and procedures to actually change or positively influence the culture of an organization. However, she says that once retailers embark on their DE&I journey toward workplace improvements, the momentum among customers and employees of the brand will accelerate rapidly, resulting in the attraction of a greater number of prospective retail workers, increased engagement among staff, and an enhanced ability to cultivate and retain top talent.

[Infographic] Employee recognition in retail

[Infographic] Employee recognition in retail

As The Great Resignation and the labor crisis continue to rage, retailers are looking for more and more ways to keep their existing staff engaged, productive – and loyal. Employee recognition might be that secret weapon retailers are searching for. Check out our infographic below to learn more about employee recognition in retail!

Ready to learn more about what retail workers want? Check out The Deskless Report: Retail Edition for more insight into what they desperately need to deliver next-level CX, execution, and operational efficiency. Plus: what’s keeping retailers up at night, and behind-the-scenes spotlights on retail brands that are successfully driving business outcomes by investing in the associate experience.


Employee recognition in retail infographic | Nudge
How to implement a frontline employee referral program

How to implement a frontline employee referral program

With everyone experiencing serious staffing issues as a result of The Great Resignation, frontline organizations are desperately looking for ways to replace workers as quickly as possible – without wasting time and money on a revolving door of bad hires. 

Employee referrals can be an effective solution to this thorny issue. With the right program and tools in place, you can easily scale referrals up to be a core part of your organization’s frontline recruitment strategy. 

What are employee referrals?

An employee referral program is when an organization encourages its staff to recommend qualified job candidates to open roles at the company. Often paired with a reward program, it’s a way for organizations to source vetted job seekers and fast-track them through the hiring process. 

Referral candidates are often treated differently from regular candidates. The referred candidate’s resume may be flagged or fast-tracked through an applicant tracking system, for example, or their resume may bypass any formal application system and go straight to the hiring manager. 

But why would referrals get so much special treatment? Are they really so valuable a catch?

In a word, yes.

Why employee referrals are important

Building out an employee referral program is a great way for frontline organizations to fast-track hiring. Here are three reasons why:

1. Referred candidates get hired faster

Because of the ongoing wave of resignations, it’s critical for frontline organizations to hire fast in order to keep locations adequately staffed. Employee referrals are a great way to speed that process up. According to Jobvite, the average application-to-hire time for career sites and job boards is 45 days and 39 days, respectively. By comparison, referred candidates move through the process up to 55% faster, taking only 29 days from application to hire.

2. Referred employees stay longer

In a frontline environment, every role is vital to the location’s operations. You need team members who will stick around for the long haul. Employee referrals can fill that need. Jobvite found that 46% of referred hires stay with an employer for three years or more, compared to only 14% of hires sourced from job boards.

3. Employee referral programs are a morale booster

One hidden benefit of an employee referral program is that it positively affects existing frontline staff. Any kind of reward is going to positively impact employee engagement, which is something to consider when building out your program. But beyond that, employee referrals help existing employees to feel like their voice is heard, and they’ve made a positive contribution to the hiring process. 

Referrals also boost morale in a more indirect way. For an employee referral program to work effectively, you need to turn your existing staff into brand advocates. They need to be well-versed in your brand purpose, vision, employee perks…the list goes on. And boosting knowledge retention of this vital information has the added bonus of boosting employee morale and engagement. After all, The Deskless Report found that 55% of deskless workers feel that a sense of purpose at work makes them feel engaged and motivated. It’s win-win!

How to build a frontline employee referral program

Simply asking employees to find referrals isn’t going to get you very many results, especially if you have a large frontline force to fill out. You’re going to need to put together a formal referral program. 

Creating a frontline employee referral program is a bit different than a deskbound program, mostly because of the scale of workforce and speed of hires. Here are three things to keep in mind when starting to build out your program. 

1. Start with determining goals and outcomes

Before you dive too far into employee referrals, you first have to establish why one is needed in the first place. What long-term and short-term goals will the referral program fulfill? Are you hoping to hire faster? Improve the quality of hires? Fine-tuning these goals will help drive your program in the right direction. 

2. Choose how you’ll use to entice employees to refer

Incentives are a critical component of an employee referral program. These could be anything from a financial bonus to vacation days, gift certificates, or swag. If these aren’t possible, employee recognition is another incentive to consider. Acknowledging staff that go out of their way to bring in new talent might be enough to entice others to engage in your referral program. 

3. Map out your tools and policies

Now that you’ve established what you want to achieve with your program, it’s time to figure out the process driving it. In other words, what tools and policies will you need to run this program at scale? Consider the following questions:

  • How will employees submit referrals? 
  • What tool will HR use to track employee referrals?
  • How much information on the candidate should be submitted?
  • At what point will incentives be awarded to the referring employee?

Speaking of tools, did you know that Nudge has an employee referral tool baked right into the communication platform? The customizable “Refer a Friend” page lets employers share details on open roles and include a link to their careers page or ATS, so employees can share career opportunities through text, email, or link right from the app. 

Tips for running an effective frontline employee referral program

All employee referral programs are not created equal. Here are a few best practices to consider when building out your program to ensure it’s as effective as possible. 

Turn your employees into brand advocates

Your employees will have more success enticing candidates to apply if they know more about the company they’re recruiting for. Share information about your employer brand to your frontliners, and make sure they know all about things like your perks and your brand mission. 

Use simple and clear messaging

The more complex and burdensome an employee referral program is (or sounds like), the less likely employees will submit referrals. Keep the policies simple, and communicate them clearly to your frontline staff. Ensure that employees understand the process for submitting referrals, whether it’s an online form or submitting a resume directly to site management or HR. Clearly state what constitutes a “successful” referral hire, and what the associated incentives are. 

Make the program easy to use at scale

You’re going to be filling roles for dozens, maybe even hundreds of locations depending on the size of your company. So your referral program has to be easy to use at scale. This means clear and simple program mechanics, a communications infrastructure that can easily reach multiple locations and teams, and rewards that are enticing but not excessive. You should also have the procedures and manpower in place to be able to handle a large number of open jobs and job applications. Processing candidates as fast as possible (whether they are referrals or not) is key to getting frontline locations the help they need in a timely manner. 

Update your employees on a regular basis

Frontline organizations are always hiring, so it’s a good idea to remind employees of the employee referral program and that you have open positions available. Employees may be shy about referring their friends because they don’t think anything will come of it. So don’t forget to notify employees that a referral has been successfully hired, too! 

Referred employees can be the fastest to hire, last the longest, and bring the most value to your business. Referral programs and incentives do a terrific job of encouraging frontline employees to participate, but the truly effective method is making your workplace a positive environment; one that employees would be excited to share with their friends. Once you’ve got a solid employee experience in place, you can start building out an effective employee referral program to spread the word.