Until recently, customer satisfaction was the primary measure of a company’s reputation and success. Organizations have been using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge the popularity of their products and services among users since 2003, when Fred Reichheld, a partner at Bain & Company, created this metric. But forward-thinking companies now understand that how their employees feel about their employer matters just as much. After all, employee engagement is central to a company’s culture and business results.
Just as a satisfied customer is likely to recommend your company — and you can also expect unhappy customers to leave bad reviews — the employee experience at your company can also make or break your reputation externally. Engaged employees will help you attract new talent, foster innovation, and increase your revenue. Compared to organizations with low employee engagement scores, companies with a highly engaged workforce are 23% more profitable, have 81% lower absenteeism, and 10% more customer loyalty.
There’s a lot you can do to improve your company culture and make it a place where people enjoy working. But how to start measuring employee engagement to know if your initiatives have an impact? The answer is the employee net promoter score (eNPS) — an adaptation of the NPS.
What is eNPS?
eNPS is an effective, easy-to-implement scoring system that helps companies track employee engagement and measure the impact of their people and culture initiatives.
The employee net promoter score shows how workers feel about your organization and, just like the NPS that measures customer satisfaction, is based on one simple question: “How likely are you to recommend us as a place to work for your family and friends?”
Apple was a pioneer of this metric, sending recurrent employee net promoter score pulse surveys for several years now to determine the likelihood of being recommended as a place to work.
How to calculate employee net promoter score
The employee net promoter score is the difference between your happiest and least happy employees.
The best way to measure it is to use your survey software to create recurrent eNPS surveys with the question “How likely are you to recommend us as a place to work for your family and friends?”. Employees should answer this question on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the least likely to recommend your company, and 10 being the most likely.
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Identifying promoters, passives & detractors
Anyone who gives a 9 or 10 is a promoter: the people most likely to advocate for the company. Employees who provide a score between 0 and 6 are known as detractors: the most likely to talk negatively about their employer.
Those who give a 7 or 8 are called passives — the calculation doesn’t take their scores into account, but they’re still considered in the number of employees. We’ll talk more about passives later on.
eNPS calculation examples
Let’s say your company has 30 employees.
10 of them are promoters, 10 are passives, and 10 are detractors.
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.
Your company has 114 employees, and your most recent survey shows 24 promoters (21%), 56 passives (49%), and 34 detractors (30%).
Passives are to be ignored in the next step of the calculation.
As 21% (promoters) minus 30% (detractors) equals -9%, the result would be -9.
As a company should aim to have more promoters than detractors, a higher employee net promoter score shows more employee engagement.
💡 eNPS formula = % of promoters minus % of detractors
The benefits of eNPS
Finding out your eNPS is simple
The number one benefit of employee net promoter score is how easy it is — you could hardly come up with a less time-consuming way to 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 on a 0–10 scale.
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 the employee net promoter score, 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 this metric leaves you with a single number. For this reason, it’s a super easy metric to work with. As an employer, you should track how your eNPS progresses, especially when the workplace is going through changes. Using one variable leaves no room for confusion.
eNPS is easy to introduce
The process requires only a brief introduction. Even if some employees haven’t heard of the concept before, it’s a straightforward concept to explain: You “just” want to know if your people would recommend your organization as a workplace. What’s so ingenious is that this simple answer tells a lot about employee engagement, but it requires very little from respondents.
eNPS is cost-effective
It is a financially safe way to check your workforce’s satisfaction levels. Since it only takes one email to kick off, you can measure employee net promoter score with 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 as an organization.
Things to keep in mind about employee net promoter score
For all its wonderful benefits, it’s important to remember that the method has limitations. Just because it’s an easy metric doesn’t make it an easy fix for low employee engagement.
eNPS is a starting point — not an end
Your journey as a company attuned to the future of work and employee engagement should be one of continuous improvement.
There’s always work to be done to keep your employees happy. eNPS signals how much work needs to be done, how urgently, and helps you track employee engagement changes as you implement your initiatives.
eNPS is beautifully simple, but inadequate as a standalone assessment
The employee net promoter score 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 score might relate to these areas). If you’re looking to conduct one survey to then 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 (whether positive or negative) should lead to further exploration. As with customer NPS, it takes deeper digging to find out the root cause of an employee’s dissatisfaction. That’s why you should also work to implement more thorough employee engagement surveys.
🚀 Access our free set of 72 best-practice questions in 22 categories for employee engagement surveys!
Employees can be content in the workplace without being particularly 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 research shows, the employee net promoter score 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.”
Remote workplaces face unique challenges — find out how to engage remote employees! 🌍
How to structure your eNPS cycles
Like OKR cycles, sending out an employee net promoter score survey once every quarter yields the best results. It keeps your results regular and gets your employees into the habit of answering the 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, you must give employees the freedom they need to be entirely truthful in their answers. This means not only making your survey anonymous, but actively reassuring participants that their identities won’t be compromised if they give a lower rating.
Just consider this hypothetical scenario: Your people fear there could be backlash if they were truthful in their scores. You haven’t communicated to them that anonymity is guaranteed. So you end up with a group of detractors who are actually excluded from the calculation as passives, as their actual satisfaction is more like a 4 or 5 than the 7 they submitted.
Remind employees they shouldn’t give overly positive scores if they don’t feel that way. Some people might feel compelled to provide a “kind” rating to please you rather than expressing their discontent. Tell them you value their honest opinions, even if they’re not favorable.
Given how easy it is for employees to respond to an employee net promoter score 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, and an employee survey platform like Leapsome can do all the heavy lifting for you.
Questions to include in your eNPS survey
An effective way to get more out of your survey and show that you value employee feedback is to include a follow-up question. Just make sure you keep these guidelines in mind when doing so:
- Keep it brief. To be effective, an employee net promoter score survey should remain separate from a longer employee engagement survey. Resist adding more than one follow-up question.
- Opt for an open-ended question. While your main 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 the score you gave?
- What can we do better as an organization?
- What is one thing you enjoy about working here?
- Would anything hold you back from referring friends to the company?
Follow-up questions to avoid
- Do you see yourself working here in five years? [leading to YES/NO answers]
- Are you happy with our new wellness program? [leading to YES/NO answers + overly specific]
- What would you say if we were to implement new feedback processes? [too hypothetical]
eNPS benchmarks & eNPS range: What are top companies getting?
Employee net promoter 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 typically “good.” They may ask themselves: “What are the top companies getting as result?” or ”Is it OK to get a score below zero?”
Benchmarks can be quite specific, changing according to industry, company size, and geographical location. If using a platform like Leapsome to calculate your employee net promoter score, you’ll have access to benchmarks, but we recommend you focus on tracking your own company’s score fluctuation: You can figure out what went wrong (in case of a decrease in score) and how to keep up the good work if your employee net promoter score 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 usually more critical when submitting a score.
Effective ways to improve your eNPS
So you’ve just done your first round of eNPS questions, and the results are in. Your company’s score is 10. Not bad — but there’s room for improvement. So how can you leverage your employee net promoter score to get a better score next time?
Measure your eNPS regularly
Having regular employee net promoter score cycles normalizes the process while giving you enough data to find trends. If you send your survey 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 hide your results from your staff. By being transparent about the employee net promoter score of your business, 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 committed to improving low results by investing in engagement, rather than sticking your head in the sand.
Don’t be afraid to follow up with a pulse survey
While we’re not suggesting you run longer engagement surveys after every eNPS cycle, we recommend using surveys (a pulse survey, for example) if your most recent score showed a major increase or decrease. Longer or more specific surveys can help you understand why your score is what it is and learn about the things that it relates to, but doesn’t account for.
The best way to ensure you improve your eNPS is to act upon your last one. Make it clear to your employees that you’ve heard, understood, and valued their thoughts. For this reason, we highly recommend that you include that follow-up question (otherwise, you won’t know where action is most needed).
💡 Learn all about turning survey results into action in this step-by-step guide for HR & People Ops teams
Communicate your own investment in the process
Continue to show transparency by talking to your people 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 leadership, and it motivates them to keep taking part in the surveys.
Why you should use engagement surveys after eNPS
📚 Read our step-by-step guide on how to run employee engagement surveys!
We explained that eNPS should be separate from longer surveys because its conciseness and simplicity make it effective in ways engagement surveys are not. But 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 you felt unwell and your doctor simply assessed you had a very high temperature, but sent you away without suggesting a course of action or asking questions. That would be a pretty unsatisfactory check-up! At your company, too, check-ups should be thorough, and extra testing may be required. So combine your employee net promoter score surveys with engagement surveys at regular intervals for a detailed picture of your company culture and the steps you should take to nurture it.
Some topics to explore in employee surveys are:
- Autonomy and enablement
- Equal opportunities
- Work environment
- Open communication
- Organizational fit
- Psychological safety
- Recognition and feedback
- Striving for diversity
📝 For a full list of engagement survey topics and best-practice questions, access our free employee engagement template.
Using employee pulse surveys to gauge the pulse of your organization
Besides using employee engagement surveys to dive deeper into issues surface in the eNPS survey, you can also kick off shorter pulse surveys to cater to specific situations.
For example, if your sales team seems unhappy, you might shoot them a department-specific pulse survey asking questions about what they feel is missing. Or let’s say your score 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 stopping your company from becoming a top place to work.
A survey platform with advanced analytics can make the process easy for you and your team, with cycle automations and actionable insights.
Passives in eNPS surveys
As promised earlier in this article, we’ll take some time to talk about “passive” employees — the people who give scores of 7–8 and that we leave out of the 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 the employee net promoter score. Although they are excluded from calculations, passives are still 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
- Would typically give a high rating, but a specific aspect or recent 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 not to disregard passives, as they can be 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 score, listen carefully to the open-ended answers of your passives, even if the equation disregards their numerical results.
Measure engagement (including eNPS) with Leapsome’s employee engagement surveys
If you’ve never gathered employee feedback or if you’ve tried to run surveys without specialized tools, implementing new processes can seem intimidating. There’s also no use in running surveys just for the sake of it — after all, the point is to show your people that you care about what they have to say and to gather insights and turn them into action.
🚀 With Leapsome’s survey features, you’ll have access to advanced people analytics with insights that are easy to digest and custom suggestions for high-impact initiatives.
Use built-in expert templates & access industry benchmarks
Get started with your engagement initiatives within minutes with our pre-built, best-practice question packs. Benchmark the results for each question against similar organizations — all done automatically.
Discover employee engagement trends
Take a deep dive into any category or question to get a clearer picture of employee engagement at the workplace. Measure and track the success of employee engagement initiatives by observing changes in responses.
Quickly spot problem areas — and know how to take action
Leapsome’s analytics provide a powerful overview of areas that need the most attention. You’ll be able to visualize problem areas, filter them by team, manager, seniority (and other filters) and access recommendations developed by our in-house organizational psychologists.
And there’s so much more you can do with Leapsome!
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 support your employees all year round, wherever they are. We hope this blog post has inspired you to use (or improve!) your employee net promoter score.
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 to take your eNPS further and understand the inner workings of your organization.