Back in the '90s, management consulting firm Bain & Company developed a new method for measuring customer satisfaction.
The "magic" question was simple. Just ask your customers, "How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?"
At the time, long and tedious customer satisfaction surveys dominated, so asking one quick question was a helpful alternative.
And with that simple question, Bain & Company developed an enduring method for businesses to measure the loyalty of their customers. They dubbed it NPS (Net Promoter Score).
In short, it reveals, "Who are my biggest promoters."
As the concept was introduced to corporate America, using NPS became a gold-standard to measure customer satisfaction. An article was even published in Harvard Business Review, called The One Number You Need to Grow.
It wasn’t long before NPS (Net Promoter Score) made its way into the workplace. At work, NPS became eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score).
Rather than measuring customer loyalty, eNPS is used in employee surveys and is intended to measure employee loyalty.
Asking eNPS questions allows managers to gain an understanding of how loyal and dedicated your workforce is on the whole.
Let’s delve a little deeper to understand how eNPS measures employee loyalty...
A common method to administer eNPS is to include the question in employee surveys.
eNPS asks employees if they would recommend your company to a friend or family member. The employee responds on a sliding scale—from very unlikely to very likely.
Responses are grouped into one of three buckets: promoters, detractors, and passives.
Promoters: These are people who respond to eNPS questions with "very likely." Employees who fall into this category are your biggest supporters. They would be willing to "promote" and vouch for your company. In short, these are your most loyal people.
Passives: Are employees who give a neutral or middle response. These employees are considered "neutral." They are not active supporters of your company, but they are not talking negatively about the company either. They are somewhat satisfied with their job, but not enough to be true advocates.
Detractors: These are employees who respond as "unlikely" to recommend your company to a friend or family member. We can assume they are not too happy nor engaged at work. Your goal is to have few detractors as possible.
At this point, you understand the response breakdown. I.e. what percentage of employees falls into each bucket? But, the total eNPS score still needs to be calculated. This can be done by subtracting the total percentage of detractors from the total percentage of promoters.
Tip: Some employee survey tools and solutions will calculate the eNPS score for you automatically.
Now, you know your eNPS score. But what does it mean? And what should you conclude from the results?
Let’s dive a bit deeper to understand how you should interpret your eNPS score.
A final eNPS score can vary from -100 to 100.
Let’s start with a negative score. If your final score is negative, you may have an employee loyalty problem on your hands.
Bottom line: A negative score means you have more detractors than promoters in your organization. Executives should take a negative score seriously. It often suggests an issue with corporate culture and engagement. The underlying cause should be quickly identified.
On the other hand, a positive eNPS score means you have more promoters than detractors. Congrats! Keep up your engagement efforts to maintain current promoters at a healthy level. The goal is to keep converting passives and detractors to promoters.
While there are no universal benchmarks, a general rule of thumb is to aim for a positive score. A positive score means you have more promoters than detractors, which is what you always want to strive towards!
Alternatively, if your score is negative, it’s time to investigate, as a negative score means you have more detractors than promoters. This is what you want to avoid.
That said, be wary of using eNPS are a sole measure of engagement in your workforce. Measuring eNPS should always be part of a more significant effort to gather employee feedback.
eNPS score measures only one dimension of employee satisfaction and happiness. In other words, managers shouldn't rely on eNPS as a sole indicator of employee engagement.
So--how can managers capture the "big picture" of employee engagement?
Employee surveys must consist of questions that measure employee engagement on multiple levels.
In addition to eNPS, employees surveys must also include questions that ask how employees feel about career and growth opportunities, compensation and benefits, etc.
Strong surveys should measure employee satisfaction within many areas of employee experience.
As a result, properly surveying employees will reveal which areas of the employee experience need attention.
Pro Tip: Administering employee surveys is the recommended first step in building a well-rounded employee engagement program. Identifying employee pain points via surveys will allow you to better prioritize and roll out HR initiatives.
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