Did you know? Apple was one of the first pioneers of eNPS, surveying their staff every four months to find out the likelihood of being recommended as a place to work.
Since the 1990s, companies have been using the Net Promoter Score to gauge the popularity of their product. Finding out your NPS is easy – all you have to do is ask customers one simple question:
How likely are you to recommend our product to your family and friends?
Customers give answers on a scale of 1 to 10, and these answers are aggregated by using a simple calculation (see below) to arrive at the NPS.
Customer satisfaction has long been the primary measure of a company’s reputation and success. More recently, however, companies have also started to realise the importance of employee satisfaction. After all – why would you care about the people buying your product and not the people making it? Employee engagement is central when it comes to both a company’s culture and its bottom line. So organisations began to ask their employees the same question, but with a twist:
How likely are you to recommend [X] as a place to work to your family and friends?
And so Employee Net Promoter Score, or eNPS, was born.
Work organisations that score in the top half of employee engagement have double the odds of success of those in the bottom half.
– Gallup, 2012
How does eNPS work and how do I calculate it?
Put simply, eNPS is the difference between your happiest and least happy employees. Anyone who gives a 9 or 10 is called a ‘promoter’ – they’re the people most likely to advocate the company to others. Employees who give a number from 0-6 are termed ‘detractors,’ as they’re more likely to talk negatively about the company. Lastly, those who give a 7 or 8 are called ‘passives’ – their results are excluded from the eNPS calculation. We’ll get to passives later on: for now, let’s focus on the promoters and detractors.
The eNPS Calculation Formula
Net Promoter Score = % of Promoters minus % of Detractors
Say your company has 30 employees: 10 of them are promoters; 10 are passives; and 10 are detractors. Taking out the passives leaves you with 10 promoters and 10 detractors, or 33% promoters and 33% detractors. Take your detractors away from the promoters, and you’re left with 0%. Note that eNPS is given without a percentage, so the final result would be 0.
Let’s try a more complex example. You have a company of 114 employees, and your most recent eNPS survey shows 24 promoters, 56 passives, and 34 detractors. Ignoring the passives – note that this is almost half of your workforce! – leaves you with 24 promoters (21%) and 34 detractors (30%). As 21% minus 30% equals -9%, the eNPS result would be -9.
The benefits of eNPS
eNPS is extremely quick to find out
The number one benefit of eNPS is how easy it is – you could hardly come up with a less time-consuming way to pulse check your employee satisfaction! Managers don’t have to spend hours thinking of the right survey questions; and employees only have to choose their score.
eNPS has a higher participation rate than surveys
Many of us are familiar with survey fatigue. You get an email asking for five minutes of your time, but after submitting the first three answers, there’s another set of questions on the next page. With eNPS, however, employees know that submitting one answer won’t eat into their schedule.
eNPS is a very easy metric to work with
The simplicity of eNPS leaves you with a single number – for this reason it’s a super easy metric to work with. As an employer you can track how your eNPS progresses over time. For example, you might be interested in monitoring employee morale during a time of change. Using one variable leaves very little room for confusion or error.
Stakeholders are often already aware of NPS and by extension, eNPS is easily understood
Unlike more complex incentives, eNPS requires only a brief introduction. Even if stakeholders haven’t heard of eNPS, its simplicity and efficiency makes it the ultimate candidate for getting started with measuring employee engagement.
eNPS is cost-effective
Lastly, eNPS is a financially safe way to check in with your workforce’s levels of satisfaction. Because it only takes one email (plus a couple of reminders), you can measure eNPS with very few time and budget commitments.
Combined, all these advantages ultimately give you the freedom to check in with employees more regularly, giving you data on whether you’re improving or not over time.
Things to keep in mind about eNPS
For all its wonderful benefits, it’s important to remember that eNPS has its limitations. Just because it’s an easy metric, doesn’t make it an easy fix for low employee engagement. The main thing to keep in mind is that eNPS is a starting point – not an end result. There is almost always work to be done when it comes to keeping your employees happy: eNPS just provides a canary in the coal-mine to signal roughly how much work needs to be done and how urgently. As with NPS, however, it takes some deeper digging to find out the root cause of an employee’s dissatisfaction.
What makes eNPS so beautifully simple is also what makes it inadequate as a stand alone metric. For example, it doesn’t tell you how committed someone is to the organisation; how immersed they find themselves in their role; or how fulfilled they are at work (although a particularly high or low eNPS might be related to these areas). If you’re looking to conduct only one eNPS survey – with the intent to sit back and relax as long as the eNPS score is higher than another company’s eNPS – you should think again. To be truly meaningful as a metric, the overview you gain from eNPS should lead to further exploration. This could take the form of an immediate follow-up question; deeper surveys; further eNPS rounds, or focus groups, just to name a few.
Remember that it’s possible for employees to be content in the workplace without being particularly engaged: for instance, an employee might really enjoy their job because it allows them to disengage, a trait often attributed to passives. But even promoters can feel this way because as Gallup explains, eNPS doesn’t express the nuanced differences between various types of promoter: “Fans wear your jersey and cheer from the stands,” the article points out. “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.”
The eNPS methodology: how to structure your eNPS cycles
Like OKR cycles, we find that sending out an eNPS survey once every quarter yields the best results. It keeps your eNPS results regular, and gets your employees into the habit of answering eNPS questions while corresponding with other regular business cycles: an ideal format for detecting changes in satisfaction and how they relate to quarterly patterns.
In order to get an unbiased eNPS score, it’s essential that employees are given the freedom they need to be entirely truthful in their answers. This means not only making your eNPS survey anonymous, but actively reassuring participants that their identities won’t be compromised if they give a lower rating. You don’t want to end up with a group of passives whose satisfaction was actually more like a 4 or 5 than the 7 they submitted.
Emphasising participants’ anonymity is one thing – but it’s also worth reminding employees that they needn’t be overly positive if they don’t actually feel that way. Some people might feel compelled to give a ‘kind’ rating rather than expressing their discontent: tell them you value their honest opinions, even if they’re not favourable.
Top tip: if you’re finding it hard to get honest results – for example, if your company is too small to allow for a sense of anonymity – you could find an external body to send out the eNPS survey and collect the eNPS results.
Given how easy it is for employees to respond to an eNPS question, participation rates should be reasonably high; so you shouldn’t need to follow up eNPS answers as much as you would for longer surveys. That said, it’s definitely worth sending out a couple of nudges just in case the first email caught someone at a bad time. A short email or Slack message should do the job!
Questions to include in your eNPS survey
As already mentioned, an effective way to get more out of eNPS is to include a follow-up question with the first one. Just make sure you keep these guidelines in mind when doing so:
- Keep it brief. To be effective, an eNPS survey should remain distinct from a longer engagement survey – so resist adding more than one follow-up question.
- Use an open-ended question. Where your first eNPS question asks for a specific number, your second question should give employees space to explain their opinions in more detail. Avoid yes/no questions; loaded questions, or overly-specific questions.
Examples of eNPS follow-up questions
- What was the main reason for your answer?
- (For detractors) What do you think we could do better as an employer?
- (For promoters) Can you describe something you especially enjoy about working here?
- (For detractors/passives) What is one thing holding you back from referring friends to the company?
- What is one thing we could do as a company that might improve your score?
Follow-up questions to avoid
- Do you see yourself working here in 5 years’ time?
- What would you say if we were to implement new feedback processes?
The first example here is popularly used in surveys because it asks for employees to express their commitment to their organisation. However, because it’s a yes/no question, avoid including it with your first eNPS question as it won’t give participants the opportunity to give a detailed answer with their score.
The second example isn’t a good fit as an eNPS follow-up question because it’s too specific. It asks the participant to react to a fixed hypothetical scenario, rather than inviting them to talk about something that matters most to them. If an employee had little interest in new feedback processes, for example, their answer wouldn’t be very useful.
eNPS benchmarks and eNPS score range: what are top companies getting?
As previously mentioned, eNPS can land anywhere in between -100 and 100. Because this is different from a percentage scoring system many are familiar with, managers often want to find out what score range is typical for a “good” eNPS. What are the top companies getting as their eNPS result? Is it ok to get a score below zero?
Some say that scores above 30 are excellent, with 0-30 being the safe zone, and that anything below zero should be cause for concern. However, the truth is that you’re much better off setting your own benchmark than comparing yourself to a predefined standard (especially because these might only be relevant for specific organisations or industries). eNPS can be affected by something as rudimentary as geographical location: while people from the USA give high scores more easily, Europeans tend to save their 9 and 10 scores for truly exceptional circumstances.
There are so many hidden variables that the eNPS doesn’t account for that comparing yourself with a company who have their own set of unknown variables will only obscure the truth of what’s going on in your own company! The easiest way to do that is to compare your most recent eNPS with past eNPS scores: figuring out what went wrong in the case of lower eNPS, and how to keep up the good work in the case of a better one.
Remember: don’t despair if your eNPS is much lower than your NPS. Because employees’ lives are much more intimately bound to their work places than consumers’ lives are bound to a given product, employees are more likely to be discerning when submitting their score.
Effective ways to improve your eNPS score
So you’ve just executed your first round of eNPS questions and the results are in. Your company’s eNPS is 10 – not bad, but there’s definitely room for improvement. So how can you leverage your eNPS to get a better score next time?
Hold them regularly
As previously mentioned, conducting regular eNPS cycles normalises the process while also giving you enough data to find clear trends. Hold your eNPS questions too far apart and you won’t be able to pinpoint the changes that corresponded to each score.
Be honest about your eNPS
Don’t keep your eNPS results from your staff: by letting them know your eNPS, your employees will feel included and invested, rather than cordoned off from the evaluation process. Similarly, be courageous in facing up to negative scores. Show employees that you’re motivated to instigate change by a low result, rather than sticking your head in the sand.
Don’t be afraid to follow up with a survey
Whilst we’re not suggesting you run engagement surveys after every eNPS cycle, we recommend using surveys if your most recent eNPS showed noticeable results (whether it’s a particularly low first eNPS result, or a considerable increase between your 4th and 5th eNPS.) Longer or more specific surveys can really help you get to the bottom of why your eNPS is what it is and learn about the things that eNPS relates to, but doesn’t account for.
The best way to ensure your improve your eNPS score is to act upon your last one. Make it plain to your employees that their views have been heard, understood and valued (for this reason it’s really important that you include that follow-up question so that you know where action is most needed!)
Communicate your own investment in eNPS
Continue to demonstrate transparency with your staff by talking about your own reaction to the eNPS results, and what you intend to do with them. Company culture improves when employees know that their views have a tangible impact on the actions of their managers – and it motivates them to keep participating in the surveys.
Why you should use engagement surveys after eNPS
Earlier we explained that eNPS should be distinct from surveys, because the conciseness and simplicity of eNPS makes them effective in ways that surveys are not. However, the reverse is also true – there are some things that only an engagement survey can reveal, so definitely don’t forget about them. Again, eNPS is simply a good starting point.
Imagine if you were ill and the doctor found you had a temperature of 40ºC, but sent you away without suggesting a course of action or asking any further questions. That would be a pretty unsatisfactory check-up! In the same way, make sure you combine your eNPS with engagement surveys at regular intervals so that you can get a more detailed, accurate picture of your company culture, and the steps that need to be taken in order to nurture it.
Other qualities you could focus on in employee surveys include:
- Pride and accomplishment
- Organisational fit
- Work environment
- Goal alignment
- Energy levels
- Work-life balance
- Sense of optimism
- Reward, recognition and feedback
- Learning and professional growth
So even if you send out eNPS cycles and engagement surveys separately, you’re welcome to base your survey focus around the results you got from your most recent eNPS.
For example, if your sales team was particularly unhappy, you might shoot them a department-specific survey asking questions about what they feel is missing. Or, if the majority of your younger employees were promoters, you could send them a survey asking what they particularly cherish about the company. Or let’s say your eNPS is pretty good, but you had a large number of passives and almost no promoters or detractors. Any one of these cases would be the perfect time for you to send out a survey designed to find out what’s standing in between you and your company being a top place to work.
There’s no need to bury yourself in Google forms, either – you can use an employee engagement survey tool that makes things easier with automated cycles and in-depth people analytics.
Let’s talk about passives
Remember those passives we told you not to forget about? Those 7 and 8 scores that we left out of the eNPS calculation? Let’s bring them back from the sidelines and talk about why passives are still significant.
Passives are a great example of the variables left out by calculations as simple as eNPS. We exclude them from the eNPS calculation because it makes the numbers easier, but of course in real life, passives are individuals with complex experiences and opinions. Passives don’t just give sevens and eights when they lack strong feelings about their workplace. In fact, they might have done so if they:
- Feel conservative about giving a strong rating
- Want to give a high rating, but a specific aspect or incident is holding them back
- Want to give a low rating, but are worried that they’ll be found out or fired
- Are happy to recommend the workplace, but not engaged enough to be excited about it
In fact, it’s particularly important to avoid disregarding passives when they can be such rich sources of follow-up information. As they land in the middle of your results, passives build a bridge between promoters and detractors: they’re most likely to consider both the qualities they really like about the company as well as things they would change.
Furthermore, former passives can easily fall into a lower or higher group depending on your actions after the previous eNPS. So if you’re passionate about improving your eNPS, you should listen carefully to the open-ended answers of your passives, even if you disregard their numerical results.
Over to you & next steps
We’re big advocates of employee satisfaction and engagement at Leapsome. It’s one of the main reasons we exist – to help employees be fulfilled in their workplaces, and teach managers how to create a great company culture.
eNPS is a great way to start your journey towards high employee engagement, and with the support of engagement surveys, you can look out for your employees all year round. We hope this blog post has inspired you to start using (or improving!) your eNPS, and if we’ve missed anything important, let us know by tweeting @leapsome with the hashtag #EmployeeEngagement.
Need a helping hand? Check out our Employee Engagement Survey tool, which provides all the customisable question templates, best practices and in-depth people analytics you’d need to take your eNPS further and understand the inner workings of your organisation.
- Engagement Surveys (Survey Tool)
- “The Ultimate Guide To Employee Engagement Surveys” (eBook)
- “Manager and Employee Feedback Examples: How To Give Feedback at Work” (blog post)
- “The X Model of Engagement” (video)