Ask an HR Expert: Measuring Employee Satisfaction with BambooHR
In the Ask an HR Expert series, we chat with the HR pros who help make BambooHR a great place to work. In this article, Cassie Whitlock, director of HR at BambooHR, explains how to get the most from your BambooHR eNPS® survey data to create effective HR initiatives and improve employee satisfaction. To see last month’s Ask an HR Expert article, click here.
How do you know what your employees honestly think about your company? How do you know what you need to change to create a better workplace? Measuring employee satisfaction helps answer those questions and is a key strategic metric. It helps you understand employee concerns and make changes to improve both your employees’ experience at work and your business outcomes.
The benefits of satisfied employees can’t be overstated. Satisfied employees are more engaged and productive, and with satisfied employees also comes a more attractive brand image for candidates. In contrast, stressed and unhappy employees can cost you: they take more time off, cause more accidents, make more mistakes, and are more likely to quit.
By measuring employee satisfaction, however, you can get a company-wide view of your strengths and possible ways to improve. Read on to learn more about best practices for using BambooHR® Employee Satisfaction with eNPS®, specifically how to interpret the survey data to create HR initiatives that will benefit your whole organization.
First things first, how often should you send out the BambooHR eNPS survey?
The timing of the survey is key in ensuring that you gather useful data. We recommend sending it out a minimum of twice a year, which is how often we do it at BambooHR, but no more than once a quarter. Otherwise, you’re liable to get survey fatigue, which will negatively affect the quality and quantity of responses.
Be mindful of how often you’re sending surveys or asking feedback from your employees overall. If you ask for feedback so often that you don’t have time to act on it, employees may lose trust that you are listening.
In addition, it’s important to be thoughtful about when the eNPS survey goes out relative to the cyclical pressure in the company. For example, it wouldn’t be wise to send out the survey the same week bonuses are given out, during the busy season, or during a hot sales cycle. Instead of measuring employees’ opinion of the business’ overall trajectory, you’ll end up skewing your results and measuring reactions to recent events. While you may need to understand how these affect your employees, that’s not what the BambooHR eNPS survey is for, so make sure to send it out during more neutral times.
How should you encourage employees to take the BambooHR employee satisfaction survey?
As with any data, the more data you can gather on employee satisfaction, the better. Ideally, this means that you want responses from a lot of employees. However, doing any kind of overt encouragement can backfire. From an employee perspective, the most important data point of the survey is that it’s supposed to be anonymous. If you put pressure on them to fill it out, suddenly it doesn’t feel so anonymous and optional anymore.
We learned this lesson early on at BambooHR. We tried to encourage more participation by sending out more email reminders and having managers mention it during their daily standups. We got pushback from employees because they felt that they were being checked on and monitored on their participation.
While unintentional, we knew we needed to fix this. We came together as a senior leadership team and decided on an acceptable benchmark of participation, between 60 and 75 percent. This benchmark helps us not worry about participation levels if we’re at or above it, and it helps us react if we end up not hitting it. Coming in below your expected benchmark of participation is feedback in and of itself, and it reveals potential issues. For example:
- Employees don’t trust HR or management.
- Something is getting in the way of people wanting to participate (e.g., you’ve sent it during a busy season, and employees don’t have time).
- Employees have shared ideas before but don’t feel heard.
Ultimately, your strategy for using eNPS with BambooHR should be to think of it as a tool with a specific purpose––measuring employee satisfaction––and to use it in combination with other resources and metrics. You shouldn’t put unnecessary pressure on one survey to measure every aspect of employee experience or of your business.
How do you balance listening to employees and visibly making changes based on feedback with the overall health of the organization?
First, you need to determine your strategic framework for the eNPS survey: why and how are you going to use it? At BambooHR, the “why” is that it’s meant to be a company-wide satisfaction measurement tool, and the strategic responsibility for responding to the data and feedback lies with the senior leadership team. The “how” is that we look for company-wide patterns. Sometimes that’s expressed in different ways in different departments, but we’re mostly looking for trends across the board.
Once you have strategic clarity about the why and how, it’s important to communicate it to your employees. They need to understand that the survey isn’t a democratic tool for directing the business––it’s impossible to act on everyone’s ideas. That doesn’t mean you should ignore anything that’s not echoed by the majority. Sometimes, we do see one-off comments or ideas that we need to respond to, either because it’s an urgent problem that we need to take care of or it’s a good idea and no one else has thought of it.
How do you make decisions based on the scores from detractors, neutrals, and promoters?
It’s a natural human tendency to fixate on numbers, especially when it comes to detractors, and on what people are saying you aren’t doing well. But these are distractions that take you away from the big picture. The main concern when measuring employee satisfaction with BambooHR is with company-wide patterns and growing your strengths, which will usually you more ROI than if you focus on your weaknesses (as long as the weaknesses arent extreme).
Here are some tips for digesting the data:
- Listen to your promoters. These people are the most engaged at work and will give you a good idea of what your strengths are. However, if a majority of your employees are detractors, that’s obviously a serious issue you need to address.
- Note where there are different experiences. If you get mixed messages within the same department or team, with employees saying positives and negatives about the same topic, ask yourself what you need to do to have more consistency with the experience you’re trying to provide. For example, you might need to look into manager behaviors and double down on values so everyone is doing their part.
- Think about how to turn your neutrals into promoters. Don’t dismiss neutrals as being statistically useless. Small changes have the potential to make a big difference with neutrals to move them up into promoters.
How often do you go back to analyze past data?
We don’t go back and look at previous survey data in between the times it’s submitted. This is a conscious decision we’ve taken at BambooHR because of why we’re asking for the data. We asked, our employees answered, and now we need to prove we’re listening to them by acting on the feedback they give us. This means we spend our time between surveys executing changes and investing in solutions. Some changes are ongoing commitments, like communication or professional development, and some changes might be one-and-done solutions, like providing employees with reusable silverware to use on their lunch breaks.
You should also communicate the changes that have been enacted during this response phase. Otherwise, you might get the same feedback over and over again––employees might not always read a particular change as the change they asked for. For example, some employees asked us for a pool of dedicated sick leave, but we decided to add more PTO instead so there would be fewer restrictions for how they used that time. We made sure to communicate that there was now enough PTO to cover the sick time employees asked for, so employees felt heard.
When measuring employee satisfaction with BambooHR, think about your purpose and goals for performing the survey, and interpret the data with the big picture in mind. Look for organization-wide trends, don’t get sidetracked by just focusing on your detractors, and look for ways to grow your strengths. Remember, too, that communication is a big part of the equation. Let your employees know what you’re doing to improve things. You’ll be able to measure your impact more effectively, and employees will feel more valued and appreciated.
Net Promoter, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.