"On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend Company as a place of work?"
This one simple question has the power to unlock your employee engagement. And one that companies need to start using immediately considering only 15% of global and 35% of US employees are engaged.
Engaged employees work with enthusiasm, ownership, and motivation that translate into high performance, creative solutions, and increased productivity. When they are not engaged, they suffer from burnout, low productivity, and high attrition. Given a low number of engaged employees, it creates a challenge for companies in unlocking the full potential of their human capital.
As a result, companies have tried to raise engagement by launching a patchwork of practices with mixed results. And as with everything else, they need to measure their efforts to manage them better. Managers use focus groups, painfully long surveys, and the turnover rate to measure employee engagement. But employee net promoter score, or eNPS, has been one of the most effective ways to do that. And one that serves as an example of "out of the box thinking."
In the December 2003 issue of Harvard Business Review, Bain consultant Fred Reichheld introduced a brand new way to measure customer loyalty: Net Promoter Score, or NPS. Apple, led by Steve Jobs, took that idea further and applied it to their retail store employees. Apple called it "Net Promoter for People." It was a success, which promoted other companies to follow suit. And eNPS went mainstream.
Today, companies large and small use eNPS surveys to measure employee engagement and create strategies to turn people into brand advocates. Employee Net Promoter Scores make the people sides of the business transparent and help leaders see which managers are doing great and which ones need coaching.
How eNPS surveys work
As with NPS, eNPS surveys ask straightforward questions like: "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend Company as a place of work?" Zero meaning "not at all likely" and 10 "extremely likely." This scale is at the heart of eNPS. Based on their feedback, respondents fall into three categories:
- Promoters (9-10): Loyal employees, who are your company's brand ambassadors.
- Passives (7-8): Neutral employees, who are neither your company's advocates nor unhappy with it.
- Detractors (0-6): The least engaged and the most unhappy employees at your company with the potential to harm it.
Subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to get your eNPS. That can be anywhere from +100 to -100. So, if you have 40% promoters and 30% detractors, your eNPS will be 10.
Employee NPS are usually lower than customer NPS. Although any score above zero is good, companies should aim for between 10 and 30, or above for excellence. Remember, eNPS measures how likely employees are to recommend your company as a place to work. You should never use it for compensation the way companies are doing with NPS, stirring controversy.
Bain, where NPS inventor Fred Reichheld works, found that 67% of promoters planned to stay in their current roles while only 31% of detractors did. And 76% of promoters made positive comments about the company compared with only 36% of detractors. They also found a strong correlation between eNPS, which measures employee engagement, and NPS, which measures customer loyalty.
How eNPS helps companies
eNPS helps managers measure four core elements of employee engagement—satisfaction, identification, commitment, and loyalty—with a single metric. Higher the eNPS, better your employee experience, which includes factors such as workplace culture, quality of leadership, relationship with coworkers, and motivation levels.
Here are some reasons why managers find eNPS helpful:
- It's a simple metric with little room for error. There's no advanced mathematics involved.
- It's faster to deploy, collect, and analyze. That makes it more effective and less expensive than traditional surveys.
- People are already familiar with it because they've been filling out customer NPS surveys for a long time. This familiarity increases the chances of participation.
With eNPS, leaders get a clear understanding of employee sentiment, which they can use to identify problems and fix them.
How to conduct eNPS surveys
You can conduct eNPS surveys by including them in your existing employee surveys or running them independently. Here are some best practices to help you get up and running:
- Use a modern performance tool with support for pulse checks and eNPS surveys. Having the right tool that works for you is vital to success with eNPS.
- Include short eNPS surveys in your weekly and monthly pulse checks. Make eNPS the first thing employees see in the survey. You can also attach eNPS with your upward feedback surveys.
- Combine eNPS with quarterly and annual surveys with extra questions about experience with management, work-life balance, feeling of belonging, etc.
- Always ask people to explain their scores or to provide other comments. These comments will help you act on your scores.
- Remember to keep the feedback anonymous. Otherwise, you will undermine employees' trust that can lead to inauthentic feedback.
- Send gentle reminders to employees who haven't filled out the survey.
We can't stress enough how important it is to collect the context around people's responses. So, apart from the "How like are you to recommend..." questions, you should also ask "Why would you..," and "What would you tell them..." ones.
How to act on your eNPS
"Fans wear your jersey and cheer from the stands. Players put in extra practice, score points and give every last ounce of energy to win. eNPS tells you who your fans are. Employee engagement tells you who your players are." — Nate Dvorak, Director of Workplace Research at Gallup.
eNPS is only a number that gives you an honest picture of your company's relationship with its employees. Your score and employee feedback that comes with it should drive you to take action. And it's not one team's responsibility.
Many factors, some of which are outside the scope of HR, affect employee engagement. So, every department leader must have conversations about the problems and empower front-line managers to fix them. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Leaders should foster a culture of candid dialogues with teams
- Drive change by segmenting employees based on eNPS
- It's front-line managers' responsibility to fix problems, not HR
- Always look at the eNPS as a conversation starter, not a performance measuring tool
How Mesh can help
Mesh comes with eNPS and Pulse Checks to help you understand employee experience in real-time. You can create pulse surveys across employee segments with a frequency you want. Click here to know more.