What if there was a Net Promoter Score for employee engagement?

social_reputationA company is only as good as its Net Promoter Score, or so the popular wisdom goes. Evangelists like the Harvard Business Review claim it’s “the one number you need to grow:” an objective, numerical representation of just how much your customers like you. Administered periodically, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys a random sample of customers and asks how likely they are to recommend your company to a friend. As a snapshot of public feelings about you, it’s extremely helpful for identifying not only the prevailing sentiment in a given moment, but also trends and changes in perception over time.

The implications of a good NPS are obvious: happy customers are repeat customers, not to mention advocates for your brand. There has always been a strong correlation between customer satisfaction and company revenue, which is why businesses spend so much money on good customer service.  There’s no doubt about it: large companies are wise to keep an eye on their NPS—or any other customer satisfaction metric—to make sure they’re keeping consumers happy.

And yet, customer satisfaction is far from the only KPI that matters. There’s another large demographic that every company, regardless of size, should be concerned about: their employees. Employee engagement is also strongly tied to revenue, productivity, and even customer satisfaction, so in many ways it’s not only as important as your NPS; it actually affects your NPS. After all, disengaged salespeople aren’t likely to win over any new customers, and disengaged customer service reps won’t help you keep the ones you have.

Unfortunately, companies often don’t realize they have an engagement problem until it’s too late. Once your NPS score plummets, or turnover hits a record high, the damage has been done. The companies that administer employee engagement surveys at all usually do so annually, as if an employee’s mood at that particular moment was a consistent, 12-month situation. But one data point a year is not enough to capture something as fluctuating as a person’s mood.

So why don’t we check in with our employees more often? Conversationally, it feels natural to ask how our coworkers are doing every day; why do we only formalize that interaction once a year (if at all)? What if your annual engagement survey happens the day after a big, motivational speech—or a round of layoffs? The mood registered by your survey won’t accurately reflect the way your employees feel the other 364 days of the year, and you could end up blithely ignoring a real problem until it’s much too late.

Fortunately, this problem has an easy solution. Part of what makes the Net Promoter Score so great is its simplicity: just one question, asked frequently. There’s no need to administer 10-page surveys or reinvent the wheel; just check in with your employees more often. Ask them how they’re feeling, or take a page from the NPS playbook and ask if they’d be willing to recommend the company to a friend. (Employee referral programs are a good way to measure that willingness, too.) With minimal effort, you can gather a wealth of data to track your employee engagement over time and deal with issues before they spiral out of control. It’s as easy as “How are you doing today?”

How do you measure employee engagement in your company? And how often? Let us know in the comments!

2 replies
  1. Kelvin Welbourne
    Kelvin Welbourne says:

    Hi Cari,

    Your comments and questions are right on target. And there is a simple, powerful metric in use now. eePulse has been measuring and helping clients manage employee energy for the past 18 years. This one question metric is a leading indicator and is predictive of turnover and performance and when used with open ended questions enables managers to improve team performance and helps employees manage their own energy at work. High change organizations use Energy Pulse weekly, low change organizations use it less frequently.
    Let me know if you would like to know more.

  2. Julia Gometz
    Julia Gometz says:

    Hi Cari, Nice to see this discussion. While I was head of employee engagement at JetBlue Airways, we started measuring eNPS on our employee surveys, monthly. That was back in 2008 and they are still doing it. I agree that it needs to be measured more regularly than once per year and that it’s nice to have one central measure. Of course, it doesn’t tell you everything but it’s a nice, quick pulse. Thanks for the blog.


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