Using eNPS as an indicator of engagement

Kai Crow
Kai Crow | December 11, 2018
Engagement
Using eNPS as an indicator of engagement

Employee NPS (eNPS) is based on Net Promoter Score® (NPS™) by Bain & Company, Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Its commonly used as a quick indicator of employee engagement because engaged (and loyal) employees are more likely to recommend their workplace.

NPS recap

NPS measures customer loyalty by asking: ‘How likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or relative?’ The idea is that loyal customers believe so strongly in the company theyre recommending that theyre willing to put their reputation on the line for it. Friends and relatives are typically the people we feel most strongly about, so we wouldnt knowingly recommend something inferior to them.

NPS uses a 0-10 scale and groups responses according to score.

9-10 are promoters. These are the people who will enthusiastically recommend your business to others.

7-8 are passives. These people dont feel strongly about your business; theyre not loyal, but they will continue to deal with you and wont warn people away.

0-6 are detractors. These people would not recommend your business to others and may encourage people to avoid it.

eNPS scale

Using eNPS

We measure eNPS frequently (e.g. monthly/quarterly) to get a sense of the experience people are having at work. People who have positive work experiences are more likely to be engaged. This means theyre more likely to share their enthusiasm with co-workers, customers, and friends.

eNPS promoter flywheel

eNPS asks How likely is it that you would recommend this company as a place to work?’ and uses the same scoring system as NPS. In some cases, eNPS also asks how likely they are to recommend a company’s products or services (as in NPS) although that’s not a universal practice.

Promoters love working for your company and will recommend it to others. Because theyre engaged they will put in discretionary effort, going over and above what’s required of them. These employees are your biggest advocates.

Passives don’t love your company and don’t hate it. They show up, do their job and go home, and probably aren’t going to rave about any of it to their friends. Attention can re-engage them and turn them into promoters. Neglect them and they may drift the other way…

Detractors might show up and do their work, but there’s a good chance they’re also frustrated, disengaged, looking for a job elsewhere, and telling their friends everything that’s wrong with their job and your company. They may also spread their negativity to other employees.

Your total eNPS score comes from subtracting the number of detractors from promoters. As with NPS, we express this number as a percentage. The maximum score is 100% (all promoters, no detractors) and the minimum score is -100% (all detractors, no promoters).

Your eNPS score is an indicator of engagement, not a measure

Engagement isn’t simple. It’s the net outcome of your entire employee experience, including workplace culture, well-being, and fairness. That means just one question wont give you a complete read on your organizations engagement level.

eNPS EX engagement business performance

What you will get, and why companies still use NPS, is an indicator of how engaged employees are. If your company scores -100 then you most likely have an engagement problem. None of your current employees would recommend your workplace to their friends (and you can probably assume they’re exploring opportunities elsewhere).

Having only one number to report means its easy to track eNPS over time, and it’s a good way to identify issues without waiting for an annual engagement survey. Asking more questions will help you better understand the reasoning behind the score.

You need to talk about eNPS

Typically respondents give one main reason they scored the way they did. It might be ‘my manager is horrible’ or ‘the AC is broken’. One of those things is an easy fix and a quick win. Most reasons for low scores won’t be so simple.

This is why it really helps to be able to talk to people about their responses. You can ask them what ‘horrible’ means, and to discuss any episodes of horrible behavior. You could even have a chat with the manager and the rest of the team. Talk it through to work out if it’s a misunderstanding, a personality clash, a well-being issue, or if one (or both) would benefit from additional development. Then discuss next steps, schedule a follow-up chat and look at ways to prevent the issue from happening elsewhere in the company.

And on the positive side, once you know what aspects of your EX turn people into promoters, you can double down on those things. If your promoters all say they love doing meaningful work, or they get recognized for their contributions, or theyre allowed to use the good Post-Its, then make sure all employees have access to those same things. It might mean a change in stationery ordering, or it might mean some PD for managers and more clarity around policies for rewards and recognition.

You don’t have to disclose who said what, but there’s a lot you can do if you don’t just collect a number and call it quits.

Consider Candidate NPS

EX includes all aspects of the employee experience, and that includes the things people encounter before they start the job. Candidate NPS works pretty much how you’d expect. Everyone who applies for a position with you will have something to say about their experience – whether they were successful or not. However, the vast majority of candidates are never actually asked for feedback (or told if they’re unsuccessful, but that’s another article). Asking for feedback from job candidates helps you refine your recruitment and employer brand, in much the same way as asking for feedback from employees helps you refine your employee experience.

You might discover candidates who drop out at a specific stage in the interview process score their experience much lower than everyone else. Following up on that insight can tell you whether it’s because of the type of interview (is it a panel interview, a team exercise, a coding test?), the interviewer (were the questions unclear, was the tone confrontational?), or something unexpected. Then you can work on fixing the problem.

 

Like everything engagement-related, eNPS is vastly more valuable with some follow-up. Yes, having one number makes reporting easy, but the number is not the point. It’s what you do with the number that has the most impact on EX, engagement and ultimately business performance.