Apple was a pioneer of eNPS, surveying their staff every four months to determine the likelihood of being recommended as a place to work.
Customer satisfaction has long been the primary measure of a company’s reputation and success. Since the 1990s, organizations have been using the Net Promoter Score to gauge their product’s popularity. 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. Companies then aggregate these via a simple calculation (see below) to arrive at the NPS.
More recently, companies have also realized how crucial employee satisfaction is. After all, why would you care about the people buying your product and not the people making it? Employee engagement is central to both a company’s culture and its bottom line. As they now understand this, organizations now ask their employees the same question, but with a twist:
How likely are you to recommend us as a place to work for your family and friends?
And so the Employee Net Promoter Score, or eNPS, was created.
“Those [companies] in the top quartile on employee engagement significantly outperformed those in the bottom quartile on these crucial performance outcomes:
• 81% lower absenteeism (…)
• 18% less turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
• 43% less turnover (in low-turnover organizations) (…)
• 23% higher profitability” — Gallup
How does eNPS work? How do I calculate it?
eNPS is the difference between your happiest and least happy employees.
Anyone who gives a 9 or 10 is called a promoter — the people most likely to advocate for the company. Employees who provide a score between 0 and 6 are known as detractors, as they’re more likely to talk negatively about their employer.
Those who give a 7 or 8 are called passives, and the eNPS calculation doesn’t take their scores into account. They’re still, however, considered in the number of employees. 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
Let’s 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. As mentioned, passive scores are not considered, but the number of employees should reflect the actual number of people working at your organization — passives, promoters, and detractors.
Now subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters, and you’re left with 0% — this means your eNPS is 0.
Let’s try a more complex example. Your company has 114 employees, and your most recent eNPS survey shows 24 promoters, 56 passives, and 34 detractors.
Ignoring passives 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
Finding out your eNPS is simple
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 and think, “Ok, fine!” But after submitting the first three answers, you’re taken to another set of questions, which can be pretty frustrating.
With eNPS, employees only need to answer a single question (“How likely are you to recommend us as a place to work for your family and friends?”), which won’t eat into their schedule.
eNPS is an 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 — for example, monitor employee morale during a time of change. Using one variable leaves very little room for confusion or error.
Many stakeholders already know the concept of NPS, making it even easier to introduce eNPS
Unlike more complex incentives, eNPS requires only a brief introduction. Even if some employees haven’t heard of eNPS, its simplicity and efficiency make it the ultimate candidate for getting started with measuring employee engagement.
eNPS is cost-effective
eNPS is a financially safe way to check in with your workforce’s satisfaction levels. Since it only takes one email (plus a couple of reminders), you can measure eNPS with very few time and budget commitments.
Combined, these advantages give you the freedom to check in with employees more regularly, giving you data on whether you’re improving.
Things to keep in mind about eNPS
For all its wonderful benefits, it’s important to remember that eNPS has 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.
There’s always work to be done to keep your employees happy. eNPS just signals how much work needs to be done and how urgently. As with NPS, it takes 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 standalone metric. For example, it doesn’t tell you how committed someone is to the organization, how immersed they feel in their role, or how fulfilled they are at work (although a very high or low eNPS might relate to these areas). If you’re looking to conduct only one eNPS survey intending to sit back and relax if the score is higher than another company’s, think again.
To be truly meaningful as a metric, the overview you gain from eNPS (positive or negative) should lead to further exploration. This could take the form of an immediate follow-up question, deeper surveys, additional eNPS rounds, or focus groups, to name a few options.
Remember that employees can be content in the workplace without being engaged. It can even happen that an employee enjoys their job because it allows them to disengage — a trait often attributed to passives. But even promoters can feel this way. As Gallup explains, eNPS doesn’t express the nuanced differences between various types of promoters: “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.”
The eNPS methodology: how to structure your eNPS cycles
Like OKR cycles, 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. This format is ideal for detecting changes in satisfaction and how they relate to quarterly patterns.
For an unbiased eNPS score, you must give employees 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 more like a 4 or 5 than the 7 they submitted.
Besides emphasizing anonymity, remind employees that they shouldn’t give overly positive scores if they don’t feel that way. Some people might feel compelled to provide a “kind” rating rather than expressing their discontent. Tell them you value their honest opinions, even if they’re not favorable.
Top tip: if you’re finding it hard to get honest results (e.g., if your company is too small to allow for a sense of anonymity), you can find an external party to send out the eNPS survey and collect the 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 as much as you would for longer surveys. That said, it’s 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 send out follow-up questions. Just make sure you keep these guidelines in mind when doing so:
- Keep it brief. To be effective, an eNPS survey should remain separate from a longer engagement survey. Resist adding more than one follow-up question.
- Opt for an open-ended question. While 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 primary 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 question to avoid is popular in surveys because it asks employees to express their commitment to their organization. However, because it’s a yes/no question, it won’t allow participants 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 feedback processes, their answer wouldn’t be very useful.
eNPS benchmarks and eNPS score range: what are top companies getting?
eNPS scores can land anywhere between -100 and 100. Because this differs from a percentage scoring system, managers often want to determine 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 cause concern. However, 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 organizations or industries.
eNPS scores can even be affected by geographical location: While people from the USA often give high scores more easily, Europeans tend to save their 9 and 10 scores for exceptional circumstances.
There are so many hidden variables that the eNPS doesn’t account for, so comparing yourself to a company that has its own set of unknown variables will only obscure what’s going on in your own company!
The easiest way to uncover what you need to learn is to compare your most recent eNPS with past eNPS scores: You can figure out what went wrong (in case of lower eNPS) and how to keep up the good work if your eNPS improves between quarters.
Top tip: Don’t despair if your eNPS is much lower than your NPS. As employees’ lives are much more intimately bound to their workplaces than consumers’ lives are to a product, employees are likely to be more critical when submitting their score.
Effective ways to improve your eNPS score
So you’ve just done your first round of eNPS questions, and the results are in. Your company’s eNPS is 10. Not bad, but there’s room for improvement. So how can you leverage your eNPS to get a better score next time?
Hold them regularly
Conducting regular eNPS cycles normalizes the process while giving you enough data to find 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 removed 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
While 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 low first eNPS result or a considerable increase between your 4th and 5th eNPS). Longer or more specific surveys can help you understand 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 you improve your eNPS score is to act upon your last one. Make it plain to your employees that you’ve heard, understood, and valued their thoughts. For this reason, you must include that follow-up question (otherwise, you won’t know where action is most needed).
Communicate your own investment in eNPS
Continue to show transparency to 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 taking part in the surveys.
Why you should use engagement surveys after eNPS
We explained that eNPS should be separate from surveys because the conciseness and simplicity of eNPS make it effective in ways surveys are not. However, the reverse is also true: There are some things that only an engagement survey can reveal, so 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 40º C, but sent you away without suggesting a course of action or asking 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 picture of your company culture and the steps you need to take to nurture it.
Other qualities to focus on in employee surveys include:
- Pride and accomplishment
- Organizational fit
- Work environment
- Goal alignment
- Energy levels
- Work-life balance
- Sense of optimism
- Reward, recognition, and feedback
- Learning and professional growth
Even if you send out eNPS cycles and engagement surveys separately, you’re welcome to base your survey focus on the results you got from your most recent eNPS.
For example, if your sales team was unhappy, you might shoot them a department-specific survey asking questions about what they feel is missing. Or, if most 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 many passives and almost no promoters or detractors. Any of these cases would be the perfect opportunity 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 to make things much 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 variables left out by calculations as simple as eNPS. We exclude them from the eNPS calculation, but passives are individuals with complex experiences and opinions. Passives don’t just give sevens and eights when they lack strong feelings about their workplace. 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 worry that they’ll be identified and punished;
- Are happy to recommend the workplace, but not engaged enough to be excited about it.
It’s crucial to avoid disregarding passives, as 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 like about the company and things they would change.
Besides, 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, listen carefully to the open-ended answers of your passives, even if you disregard their numerical results.
Measure engagement (including eNPS) with Leapsome’s employee engagement surveys — and use powerful insights to take informed actions for improvement
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Over to you & next steps
We’re big advocates of employee satisfaction and engagement at Leapsome. It’s the reason we exist: to help employees feel fulfilled in their workplaces and help companies create a great 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 use (or improve!) your eNPS.
Need a helping hand? Check out our employee engagement survey tool, which provides all the customizable question templates, best practices, and in-depth people analytics you’d need to take your eNPS further and understand the inner workings of your organization.
— Interested in learning more about how you can measure and improve employee engagement within your organization? Book a demo and speak with one of our experts.
- 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)