Getting the Most Out of Your eNPS® Score

As the question “what’s your Net Promoter Score℠?” has become commonplace in tech management, more and more companies have started to adopt the employee-centric adaptation, eNPS, as their preferred method to gauge and track employee engagement, loyalty, and other hard-to-measure concepts.

Just like their NPS® predecessor, eNPS surveys are fast and relatively painless to administer; what’s more, they’re able to condense complex, multifaceted, and subjective ideas into a single numerical score. It’s no wonder tools like this are becoming so popular, and you can count us among the fan club. We think eNPS is so useful, we incorporated it into our own engagement-tracking software feature, BambooHR® Employee Satisfaction.*

Your eNPS score can provide essential guidance along the journey to improve your employee engagement. But just because everyone’s talking about it doesn’t mean everyone knows exactly what to do with their eNPS score once they get it. We’re here to help you make the most of eNPS and help you understand the why behind this new system.

eNPS 101: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

For anyone unfamiliar with the Net Promoter System, here’s a very brief overview of where it came from, how it works, what it tells your organization, and what makes eNPS different from NPS.

Net Promoter Score℠: The Original

NPS can stand for either Net Promoter Score or Net Promoter System; in short, the system is what produces the score. It was developed in 2003 by a partner at the consulting firm Bain & Company as a way to accurately measure customer satisfaction in the least intrusive way possible.

The system asks customers a single, simple question—to rate the company from zero to 10 based on their likelihood to recommend its product or services. The responses are segmented into three categories: scores 0-6 are Detractors, or people who might talk badly about the company; scores 7-8 are Passives, or people who likely wouldn’t say anything positive or negative, and scores 9-10 are Promoters, or people who would likely promote you voluntarily.

The final Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters, which produces a result from -100 to +100 (or in other words, your “net promoters”). Anything above zero is considered “good,” while anything above 70 is considered “excellent.”

eNPS®: The Next Generation

eNPS stands for employee Net Promoter Score, and it works in much the same way as the original Net Promoter Score system does, but instead: it asks people to rate a company from zero to 10 based on their likelihood to recommend it as a place to work rather than how likely they are to recommend its products or services, and the responses are tallied and analyzed to provide a final score from -100 to +100.

The only differences between NPS and eNPS is that instead of customers, eNPS is designed to survey employees, and the organization they are being asked to rate is their own employer.

Why NPS and eNPS Are Important

Prior methods for measuring engagement usually involved word-of-mouth feedback, KPI analysis, or extensive surveys covering a broad swath of engagement-related topics—methods that can be inconvenient, time-consuming, unreliable, or all three, due to factors like subjectivity, fear of retribution, low participation, or external influence.

NPS and eNPS surveys allow organizations to quickly and painlessly get an accurate snapshot of where they stand with customers and employees, respectively. Their simplicity encourages more people to respond, the anonymity allows customers and employees to be honest, and the scores they produce are backed by years of dedicated research. No other system that we know of provides such reliable, accurate feedback on such important elements of business health in as little time or with as high a participation rate.

How to Use eNPS Results

Now that we’ve covered the concepts, we’ll focus on eNPS, the internal employee-surveying version of NPS. Assuming you have access to software like BambooHR Employee Satisfaction or another tool that incorporates eNPS surveys, acquiring your eNPS score is easy: simply send out the survey to your internal email list and wait for the results. That’s the beauty of eNPS. But once you’ve received your first eNPS survey results, what next?

Interpreting Your eNPS Score

The software you’re using to administer the survey likely includes a reporting feature, and your first survey will act as the baseline from which you can begin using the reports to track your progress. The creators of eNPS offer this easy-to-remember scale that tells you where you’re starting from in terms of how employees feel about the company:

It would be nice to find yourself starting at least somewhere in the “Okay” to “Very Good” range, or from minus 10 to plus 30. However, it’s not uncommon for companies to seek out tools for measuring engagement only after they’ve identified a problem, like undesirable turnover, poor performance, or even complaints and legal issues.

If you find yourself in the negative range, below minus 10, all is certainly not lost. That’s why you have eNPS, right? And as they say, there’s nowhere to go but up. Except, of course, down. But try not to think about that.

Tracking Your eNPS Score over Time

The decision at your organization to acquire eNPS likely came from a larger decision to focus more heavily on the employee experience—and ideally, that means you have some sort of plan to improve engagement. This is where your eNPS score becomes truly useful, because while developing an employee engagement strategy is nothing new, tracking the effectiveness of engagement initiatives has until now been hard to do.

eNPS changes that by making surveys easy to conduct and easy to analyze. An eNPS score tells you how you’re doing even before you start any engagement initiatives, and the ease of repetition allows you to track your progress over time with more frequent data points. What’s more, unlike other KPIs used to gauge engagement, your eNPS score isn’t tied to one specific initiative or based on metrics that may be affected by issues that have nothing to do with employees’ engagement levels.

Combining eNPS with Other Tools

If all you have is a hammer, it’s tempting to treat everything like a nail. That’s one of the pitfalls of eNPS—it’s so easy to use and delivers such clear results that it can be tempting to rely on it exclusively as the only way to measure employee engagement. But a single number, no matter how scientific, is not enough to give any organization enough information to guide their employee experience initiatives.

Don’t give in to that temptation. Choose a better path: combine eNPS with other employee experience tools and achieve a more holistic understanding of your organization’s health. Here are some examples of other methods you can use with eNPS to gain more knowledge about your people and, in doing so, take steps to improve their experience.

Performance Management

A comprehensive, multi-faceted performance management program is the ideal supporting backbone of any engagement strategy. In order to achieve desirable performance and engagement outcomes, you need structure as well as frequent opportunities for two-way communication. BambooHR® Performance Management creates both by providing the following:

A good performance management plan helps managers motivate their team members to achieve better performance. But a great performance management plan creates open communication and achievable outcomes that help employees feel valued, and uses software like eNPS and the survey tools mentioned below to guide the process.

Engagement Surveys

Engagement surveys are surveys designed to measure multiple factors of employee behavior and sentiment that, when combined, provide an overall understanding of employee engagement. Engagement surveys often include questions about topics like training, management, career growth, loyalty, compensation, and more, using a mixture of open-ended questions and questions that ask for a numerical score or for employees to pick from a predetermined scale of responses.

In order to achieve a holistic view of engagement, engagement surveys must cover a wide range of topics. This means that they take some time to create, more time to complete, and even more time to analyze. As a result, they’re usually only conducted once or twice a year. While the arrival of tools like eNPS and pulse surveys has stolen the spotlight from engagement surveys in recent years, the complexity of engagement surveys means they remain a useful method for organizations wishing to measure engagement in more depth.

Pulse Surveys

Pulse surveys are short, anonymous surveys, usually structured around simple yes/no or multiple-choice answers and delivered via software or simply through email. They’re useful for all sorts of data gathering, from asking employees for feedback on specific programs like onboarding or cross-training to asking broader questions about their relationship with the company or their manager. Like eNPS surveys, the simplicity and anonymity of pulse surveys encourage participation and honesty. In fact, you could consider eNPS to be a kind of sophisticated pulse survey.

The appeal of pulse surveys lies in how they allow organizations to seek out feedback or gather opinions as quickly and easily as sending an email, and in how they provide data that organizations can track over time. Compared to engagement surveys, pulse survey questions may be simple and the answers might lack the depth of an open-ended response, but the intent is to use pulse surveys consistently and often, studying the effect your engagement efforts are having on the organization over time.

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BambooHR® Employee Satisfaction

BambooHR incorporates eNPS surveys as the first half of an engagement analysis one-two punch: BambooHR Employee Satisfaction with eNPS.

When we built Employee Satisfaction, we designed it to fill the contextual gap that a simple eNPS score leaves wide open. Your eNPS score is a good place to start, and a great way to track progress and changes in engagement, but it takes more than a score to know what employees really need, want, like, and dislike.

That’s why Employee Satisfaction combines an eNPS survey along with a second, open-ended question tailored to the rating given by the employee. That means it does more than deliver your eNPS score—it uses the employee’s own words to provide context around their rating.

The software then analyzes those open-ended responses to pick out keywords and themes, creating a breakdown of common concerns and positive trends. By combining the organization’s eNPS score with the readable responses and the keyword report in Employee Satisfaction, administrators and executives not only get an idea of how employees feel, they are able to identify why they feel the way they do.

These concrete details make it easier for leaders to prioritize and address real problems, as well as to create initiatives that perpetuate, strengthen, and promote the things that lead to a positive rating.

Introducing: Sentiment Assignment in Employee Satisfaction

One thing we’re always trying to do is improve not only the look, feel, and function of BambooHR, but also the quality of the insights it provides to you and your organization. We’ve taken a big step in that direction by adding a user-controlled sentiment reassignment action to the analytical side of Employee Satisfaction.

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What that means is that when the software identifies a keyword or key phrase in a response and generates a corresponding tag for the report, users can now choose how those tagged keywords are assigned rather than relying on the basic logic built into the software.

Until now, reports displayed tags in groups associated with the three eNPS categories, separating Promoters’ response tags from those of Detractors and Passives. However, while the questions are designed to focus on the reasons that led to a negative or positive rating, many employees tend to give even-handed answers, talking about both their likes as well as their dislikes.

Manual sentiment assignment is a way for administrators to fine-tune this data and create highly accurate reports that offer a clear window into the feelings and issues behind employees’ ratings.

Finding Success with eNPS

If you think of the employee experience as a journey, with the organization’s managers, executives, and HR professionals serving as a guiding collective along the way, you can think of your eNPS score like the arrow on a compass. A compass is an essential part of any wayfinding kit, and so simple and straightforward to use that, in time, it becomes almost second nature—but it’s a mistake to believe it’s the only thing you need.

To find your way through the wilderness, you need a map. You’ll need support along the way and a plan to get you there in one piece, with time to rest and strategies to overcome any obstacles in your path. Once you have these, a compass can tell you which direction you’re facing and keep you on track to your target.

Guiding the employee experience to improve engagement comes with the same challenges. You need more than a compass—you need a plan.

When paired with a clear goal, a solid support strategy, and the knowledge you now possess, eNPS and other engagement survey tools like Employee Satisfaction become the final pieces of gear you need to take you, your people, and your organization from wherever you are today to wherever you want to be. The only question is, are you ready to get going?

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*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.