Definition

employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

Contributor(s): Diann Daniel

The employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a metric used by employers to assess employee loyalty. The eNPS is the percentage of unhappy employees subtracted from happy employees, as determined by their answer to the question "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely would you be to recommend this company to a friend or colleague as a place to work?" The eNPS is an important tool in the arena of employee engagement and employee experience since it is simple to use and yields a single number that easily can show trends over time. In addition, eNPS tends to yield higher response rates than more complicated surveys.

The eNPS is based directly on the Net Promoter Score, which asks customers the likelihood that they would recommend a company's products or services to others. NPS, widely used to assess customer loyalty and determine effects on customer satisfaction, is based on Bain & Co. research by a team led by Fred Reichheld, a Bain fellow. Reichheld developed the NPS and the Net Promoter System, outlined in The Ultimate Question. Because engaged, loyal employees have been found to be critical to a company's success and have such a direct effect on the customer experience, in time, NPS was used to measure the loyalty of employees and dubbed "employee Net Promoter Score," to distinguish it from the customer version and allow for its own best practices.

eNPS categories: promoters, passives and detractors

The employee Net Promoter Score is based on a 0-to-10 rating of how likely an employee is to recommend the organization as a place to work, with 0 not at all likely and 10 extremely likely. The numbers cluster into categories of employee types.

Promoters: 9 or 10
These are the most enthusiastic fans, who would willingly recommend the organization as a good place to work.

Passives: 7 or 8
These employees are satisfied for the moment, but are likely to leave the company if a better offer were to come along. In addition, though passives might recommend the organization as a place to work, that recommendation is likely to be tempered by caveats.

Detractors: 0-6
Employees who are not likely to recommend working at an organization and who may be likely to negatively influence others are called detractors.

Employee net promoter score

How the employee Net Promoter Score is calculated

The employee Net Promoter Score is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors:

eNPS = % promoters - % detractors

The percentage of passives is not counted in the score. The eNPS may be a negative number.

Employee Net Promoter Score benefits and limitations

Since the eNPS is a single number, it offers an easy way to track progress or lack of progress over time. In addition, its simplicity is both a benefit for the organization administering it and for potential survey takers, who may be more likely to respond given the short time investment. In addition, because a large number of executives are comfortable with NPS, eNPS yields a number that feels familiar.

The eNPS's simplicity is also a disadvantage, however, since it just tells how a company is doing, but does not answer why. For this reason, many experts recommend using additional questions -- especially a follow up of that addresses why -- as well as other tools to gather more in-depth feedback and suggestions. For example, eNPS can be used for monthly check-ins between annual surveys, as part of a strategic approach such as Bain's employee Net Promoter System, or as an entry point into and routine check of a company's more robust employee experience efforts.

Employee Net Promoter Score benchmarks

The above variables can affect eNPS's usefulness in benchmarking, and the eNPS may also be subject to cultural differences, with employees in certain countries less likely to give a high score. Employee Net Promoter Scores do not inherently offer information that provides context, as does, for example, Glassdoor's "Best Places to Work," which shows the criteria for ranking as well as a view of real employees' evaluations of workplaces.

Because of such issues, many experts discourage looking to other companies and industries as benchmarks for eNPS, although some information is becoming more available on how to make such comparisons. Instead, they say that organizations should start with an initial score (along with a question to get at the why) and work to improve it. This score will likely be much lower than the NPS, since experts note that employees expect more from the companies they work for than customers expect from the brands they buy from, so this awareness can frame how to interpret employee Net Promoter Scores.

As for other tips on administering eNPS, here are some mentioned by experts:

  • Leadership should agree on why it's being used and methods of following up with employees should be determined.
  • The rollout of eNPS should be accompanied by change management efforts at all levels, including marketing of why it's being used and what benefits employees will see from it.
  • Anonymity must be guaranteed.
  • Any feedback gathered must be disguised before it is shared.
  • Track other key performance indicators in relationship to the score.
  • Consider administering eNPS surveys on a regular, rolling basis to different groups of employees to lessen the likelihood of survey fatigue. Also, be sure to turn results around quickly.
This was last updated in July 2018

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