What is an employee net promoter score and how do you improve it

Employee satisfaction is always a hot topic for business owners. High levels of employee satisfaction are typically associated with higher productivity, lower employee turnover, decreased absenteeism, and better overall employee engagement. What business wouldn’t want to reap all of those benefits?

Improving employee satisfaction can be tricky though. You’ll need to find a way to measure current employee satisfaction levels and solicit feedback on how to improve the employee experience. But obtaining honest feedback and actually getting employees to complete long surveys can be a challenge. That’s why many businesses use a simple tool called the employee net promoter score.

This short test provides a useful metric to help businesses measure employee sentiment. Find out how to administer the survey and calculate your company’s employee net promoter score below. Plus, explore some helpful tips on how to boost your score and improve employee satisfaction.

What is an employee net promoter score?

An employee net promoter score (eNPS) is a metric that measures your employees’ attitudes toward your company. It is based on a singular survey question; “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this organization as a place to work to others?”. This question is often included in larger employee engagement surveys. Some organizations also rephrase it to specify friends and family members instead of “others”.

Note that the eNPS is not the same as a net promoter score (NPS), though it is based on the original NPS. The standard NPS asks whether customers would recommend the company’s product or services to others, which is used to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty. Some companies modify the customer NPS to ask whether employees would recommend their employer’s product or services to friends and family, which can measure their perception of the quality of the company’s offerings.

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How to calculate your employee net promoter score

The eNPS calculation starts with collecting and organizing all of the responses to the eNPS question; “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this organization as a place to work to others?”

While you may assume that the average rating from all of the responses is your eNPS rating. There is actually a slightly more complex calculation method. You’ll need to divide your survey respondents into three categories based on their responses to the eNPS;

  • Promoters: Engaged employees who responded with a score of 9 or 10.

  • Neutrals: Passive employees who responded with a score of 7 or 8.

  • Detractors: Potentially disengaged employees who responded with a score of 0 to 6.

Add up how many employees fall into each category and what percentage of the total employee population each category represents. The neutrals will be set aside. Then, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

The formula is: (% of Promoters) – (% of Detractors) = Employee Net Promoter Score.

Let’s look at an example. You have 100 employees who all respond to the eNPS survey, and their responses fall into the following categories:

  • 42 were promoters (42% of the total employee population)

  • 31 were passive (31% of the total employee population)

  • 27 were detractors (27% of the total employee population)

You would subtract the 27% that were detractors from the 42% that were promoters, leaving an employee net promoter score of 15.

What is a Good Employee Net Promoter Score?

It is actually possible, and fairly common, for organizations to obtain a negative eNPS score. This happens when the company has more detractors (or employees who would not recommend your company) than promoters (employees who would recommend the company). If you conducted the survey for the first time and your eNPS calculation is a positive number, that’s an excellent start.

Scores between 10 and 30 are generally considered good eNPS ratings. Scores over 40-50 are viewed as excellent. You likely won’t get an excellent score the first time, as this is typically more reflective of an organization that has already put a lot of effort and resources into improving employee satisfaction.

Benefits of measuring employee satisfaction with the eNPS

The eNPS is a short, simple question that won’t take your employees a long time to answer and won’t cause survey fatigue. This makes it easy to administer and can provide higher response rates from your workforce. It’s also an easy format to readminister on a regular basis so that your business can identify and monitor changes in employee satisfaction over time.

The survey provides a quick overview of employee satisfaction within your organization, and can be a good starting point if you are trying to improve your employee retention and recruiting strategies. Especially when combined with follow-up questions, you can use the survey tool to measure employee sentiment and get an understanding of what may be turning candidates away from your company.

If an employee wouldn’t refer a friend because of factors like pay or limited remote work options, there is a good chance other potential candidates are also avoiding your organization for similar reasons. With employee turnover and recruiting remaining a large challenge for so many companies, the employee NPS survey is a quick and easy way to start diving into the causes of turnover or why you aren’t attracting top applicants.

Limitations of the eNPS survey

There are some critics of the eNPS survey, and many of the most common concerns are certainly valid. One of the biggest critiques of the eNPS is that it is a single question and therefore doesn’t provide enough actionable insights for employers. It may be able to let you know that you have an employee satisfaction problem, but you won’t be able to unpack what factors are most strongly influencing employee loyalty. ’This is one reason that the eNPS is often used alongside longer employee surveys that also touch on compensation, leadership, work flexibility, and other key concerns.

Another concern is that it may not accurately measure engagement levels. Someone may recommend a company to a friend because the job is easy and pays well rather than because they are actually engaged and satisfied with their role and the company. After all, plenty of workers have taken to social media sites to recommend “lazy jobs” and jobs that can be doubled up for “multi-jobbing” (often with overlapping work hours), but that’s not necessarily the type of recommendation that you want.

Strategies for improving your company’s employee net promoter score

Regardless of whether you achieved a good eNPS score or have a bit of extra room for improvement, it’s always a good idea to try to boost the number of promoters in your organization and improve your eNPS score. Even those with excellent scores can benefit from continuous improvement efforts. Here are some key strategies to consider for improving employee satisfaction within your organization.

Review your compensation strategy

Employees are unlikely to recommend their employer to other job seekers if they feel that the pay and benefits offered aren’t up to par. Unsurprisingly, the Conference Board’s 2023 Job Satisfaction survey found that wages were the factor that most influenced employees’ intent to stay at their current job. Other factors such as the company culture, work-life balance, and leadership quality were also important and can help offset lower wages in some circumstances, but paying competitive salaries is a great way to improve employee loyalty and achieve high eNPS scores.

One practice to implement is salary benchmarking. This is the practice of comparing your internal salary and compensation data to that of your competitors and the broader market. The goal is to ensure that your company is paying employees at a fair rate for their industry, job titles, and region. This should typically be done at least once a year, often right before performance review season when most companies make decisions regarding raises. You can also review the benefits and PTO offerings of competitors for an even more thorough review of your compensation strategy.

Look for opportunities to develop your organizational culture

It’s been a tumultuous few years. With shifts to remote work (and then potentially a shift back to the office) and ongoing economic challenges, companies have had a lot of pressing concerns to focus on. However, that doesn’t mean that businesses should be neglecting their team-building efforts or working with a poorly developed internal culture.

Employees tend to feel more satisfied and more eager to recommend a job if they are able to connect with their company’s mission and culture as well as their peers. As we head into the end of the year, it’s a great time to start planning team activities like holiday parties, volunteering days, office lunches or activity sessions, and more. Set aside time for employees to connect with each other. Remote and hybrid teams can still do virtual happy hours, at-home team lunches (send out some DoorDash or Grubhub gift cards and get everyone on a video call to eat together), virtual volunteering, at-home holiday craft sessions, and more.

Amp up employee recognition efforts

Employee recognition can go a long way in promoting employee satisfaction. Managers and leaders tend to be super busy and focus on the big picture of their organization, but it’s important that they take time to focus on the smaller day-to-day accomplishments and efforts of their team members.

Look for opportunities to recognize employees privately and publicly. This may be encouraging all internal managers to be more proactive in providing positive feedback and recognition to staff members. It could also include creating more opportunities and channels for recognition such as dedicating a few minutes during monthly staff meetings to recognizing the top accomplishments of individual team members or making better use of communication channels like Slack to give quick daily or weekly shoutouts.

Consider employee work preferences

If your business has recently changed its remote work policy and mandated a partial or complete return to the office, you may notice that your employee NPS score has taken a hit. Employees are typically going to be most satisfied in the work environment that best suits their preferences and work style, be that in the office or at home.

In Owl Labs 2022 State of Remote Work Survey, 66% of workers said that they would immediately start looking for a job if the option to work from home was taken away. That’s a huge portion of your employee population that could become detractors if you aren’t thoughtful and cautious about making changes to your remote work policy. Consider doing an employee survey on work preferences before making any major policy changes.

Listen to employee feedback

As with an employee survey, your goal with the eNPS should be to take the survey results and use them to improve. Then you’ll want to readminister the test to see if your initiatives worked and whether the employee net promoter score improved. But you likely won’t see much of a change if you don’t listen to employees and make changes based on their feedback.

It’s also important to clearly communicate that you are acting on feedback. Employees are often asked to take surveys like the eNPS or provide detailed feedback and then don’t hear anything about the results or what you are doing in response to the data. In Achievers’ 2023 Engagement and Retention Report, it was found that employees who believe that their employer is taking meaningful action based on their feedback are 37% less likely to hunt for a new job. Use the eNPS and other employee surveys to collect data, create an action plan, communicate that plan, and then re-survey your staff. If you see an increase in positive responses based on your actions, be sure to share that accomplishment too.