A Powerful Combination for HR Process Improvement

The employee survey is a common HR tool used to gauge employee sentiment on a wide range of work experience issues – from management practices and development opportunities, to communications, compensation and benefits, etc.

But while these surveys certainly have value, the results they generate don’t really hit a very fundamental piece of the employee experience. Namely, would they recommend the company they work for to others?

HR professionals have long known the value of employee referrals when it comes to finding job candidates. Existing employees are not likely to refer someone they don’t thinks he is a good employee or a good candidate, so this pool of candidates can be particularly productive.

Plus, though, there’s another reason why recommendations really matter, and it comes from our marketing colleagues – the Net Promoter Score – or NPS.

NPS and how it works in marketing

In marketing circles, NPS refers to the scientifically proven correlation between the willingness of customers or consumers to recommend a product, company or brand to others.

It’s a measure that was introduced in 2003 by Fred Reichheld with Bain & Company – and has been widely used by companies ranging from State Farm to Vanguard and Chick-fil-A, according to a harvard business review article titled “The number you need to know”.

And that’s exactly what NPS is – a number that provides an easy measure of customer loyalty. Based on the simple question – “Would you recommend?” — and a scale of 0 to 10 points, with 10 being the highest, NPS has been shown to be strongly correlated with customer loyalty.

And, in recent years, with employee loyalty as well.

Employee NPS and its value to HR

The Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) asks a similar question of employees: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company as a place to work?”

It’s one thing for an employee to “agree” that their manager is managing well, that their pay and benefits are good, and that they have training and development opportunities. It’s quite another thing for them to say, “Yes, I would recommend this company as a great place to work!”

This is what makes eNPS so powerful.

When companies use eNPS, they consider their results in terms of Promoters, Detractors, and Neutrals. Like other types of surveys and polls, the goal is to establish a baseline and then work to improve that baseline score through regular monitoring and actions designed to move the needle.

Finding the Right Cadence for eNPS and Employee Satisfaction Measurement

While the eNPS can be a powerful metric, it obviously doesn’t examine all the details your organization will want to know about employee satisfaction, engagement, and experience. You will still want to collect additional information through your traditional employee satisfaction or engagement surveys.

But you can integrate eNPS into this process. Here is one way to do it:

  • Conduct a formal employee survey twice a year that includes an eNPS question.
  • During quarters when the employee survey isn’t done, do a blitz survey that could be sent to 30% to 40% of your employees to provide directional data on how things are going.

Tracking and trending this data on an ongoing basis and using it to work with business leaders and managers to make adjustments can help organizations continually stay tuned to the climate of the employee experience.

Turn data into action

The combination of employee satisfaction and eNPS data, as well as anonymous feedback received through the employee survey, provides valuable insights. This information can be used to work with business leaders and managers to identify positive trends as well as opportunities for improvement.

Keep in mind that if you ask the right demographic questions in your surveys – for example, gender, age, race/ethnicity, seniority, division, department, location, etc. , you can dig deeper into the data to identify areas where there may be differences in sentiment or outlook.

For example, do employees who have been with the company longer have a more positive view of the company? Do different generations have different perspectives? Do certain divisions or departments excel or need improvement in specific areas?

This kind of detailed data, along with open feedback, can provide HR managers with both objective and subjective information to use as a starting point for powerful conversations. For example:

  • Here are the three main areas in which you succeed; here are the last three that represent areas of opportunity for improvement. How can we fill these gaps?
  • Here are some interesting employee comments that might suggest a theme. Let’s have a focus group or employee conversations to gather more information.
  • Here is one area where you are performing better than any other business unit. Let’s identify some best practices that can be shared with other business unit leaders.

Employee satisfaction survey results don’t tell the whole story about employee loyalty and the role they could play in encouraging others to work for your company. The eNPS score does not provide details on specific improvements that could be made.

In combination, however, these two metrics can provide invaluable insights to drive improvement and engagement, which lays the foundation for attracting and retaining top talent, even for the most difficult-to-recruit positions.


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