Glossary of HR Terms

Looking to brush up on all the latest HR acronyms, buzzwords, and common terms? This glossary is for you, sort of like the ABCs of HR. It's everything you need to know in the realm of employee experience and human connection, defined in easy-to-understand language.


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Net Promoter Score

Defining and Calculating Employee Net Promoter Score

What Is Employee Net Promoter Score?

Employees spend roughly one-third of their lives at work, and to make the most of that time, they should feel engaged and satisfied with their jobs. Companies need a simple metric to help them understand their workforce. That’s where employee net promoter score (eNPS) can be so valuable, as it gives an instant snapshot of how people perceive their employer.

Your organization’s eNPS is an ideal starting point for bigger questions about your employee experience and company culture. By following eNPS trends over time, you can put together more informed action plans that focus on sustaining an excellent employee experience..

Learn more about how eNPS works and how you can use this metric to improve your organization.

Net Promoter Score 101

Net promoter score (NPS) is a metric devised by Bain & Co. to gauge customer experience and customer perceptions of a company — specifically, whether they would refer friends or family. Similarly, eNPS scores your company based on how likely employees are to recommend your organization as an employer to friends and family.

NPS and eNPS revolve around one simple question: “How likely are you to recommend this company to others in your circle?” Respondents rate their likelihood to promote the company on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being “not at all likely” and 10 being “extremely likely.”

You can categorize responses into three groups: promoters, passives, and detractors. For eNPS, this looks like:

  • Promoters: These people think highly enough of the employee experience to provide a rating of 9 or 10, meaning they’re highly likely to recommend that their friends and family apply.
  • Passives: Neither good nor bad, passive respondents are neutral toward your employer brand and experience. They rate their likelihood of recommending you as an employer as 7 or 8.
  • Detractors: Responses of 6 or lower on the scale ‌indicate unhappiness with the employee experience. Not only will these employees not recommend you as an employer, they may also suggest that other people avoid you.

In addition to the main question, eNPS surveys also ask employees to provide a reason for their score. While this qualitative feedback is anecdotal, it can guide companies’ efforts to understand their eNPS score and address problems.

The eNPS formula is weighted toward detractors to encourage organizations to focus on addressing employee dissatisfaction. Giving detractors more weight contributes to a greater sense of urgency. That’s also reflected in how eNPS is calculated — passives don’t affect the score, but detractors do.

How to Calculate Employee Net Promoter Score

Your eNPS is a proxy for employee happiness or dissatisfaction, and it’s a straightforward metric that helps you further investigate employee experience and engagement. Here’s how to use eNPS to capture and calculate employee sentiment toward you.

There are two main ways to ask about eNPS. One option is to incorporate eNPS into a longer survey, such as your annual employee engagement survey. This allows you to gather additional context that can inform your next steps. However, employees are more likely to get survey fatigue during longer surveys, which could affect the quality and consistency of their responses. Longer surveys also tend to require more effort, limiting how often you can update your data.

Your other option is to use pulse surveys. These are streamlined surveys of one to five questions each (in this scenario, the eNPS question and follow-up stand alone or are accompanied by a couple of other questions). Pulse surveys are simple to produce and distribute, meaning you can run them more often and collect more data points. However, pulse surveys are limited in the context they can provide.

They may suggest trends in your eNPS without revealing what factors are causing them.

There are a couple of ways to calculate eNPS. The most simple is this: Subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. Your score will be in the range of -100 to +100. Here’s what that looks like as a formula:

eNPS = (% of promoters – % of detractors)

For example, if you surveyed 1,000 of your employees and found that 40% were promoters and 35% were detractors, you’d subtract 35 from 40 for an eNPS of 5.

With a score in hand, you can begin to investigate what caused this score and how that relates to employee experience and engagement.

What Is a Good Employee Net Promoter Score?

Your eNPS can range from -100 to +100. Scores in the 10-30 range are usually considered good because that means you have more promoters than detractors. Scores between 50 and 70 are considered excellent. Negative scores signal a need to improve.

However, each industry has its own benchmarks that should be considered. For example, ‌eNPS in health care — a challenging but fulfilling industry — has hovered in the mid- to high teens for the past couple of years, according to data from Perceptyx. Retail, meanwhile, has been at roughly zero, and information services is in the high 20s.

Having a high eNPS doesn’t guarantee success, but there are correlations between employee satisfaction and business performance that can’t be ignored. Companies with a good eNPS score tend to have more engaged employees and better performance outcomes.

Your eNPS score can help you explore further with other HR metrics, too, such as employee turnover and absenteeism. Organizations with high eNPS scores typically have lower turnover rates and higher employee engagement. A low eNPS and high absenteeism, on the other hand, could signal that your workforce is highly disengaged and not willing to recommend you to friends and family.

How to Use Your Score

Calculating your eNPS score is an important first step, and the follow-up question can elicit important qualitative feedback that can help you continue positive practices and remedy employee experience issues.

Here are some ways to use your eNPS score as a blueprint for improving employee loyalty and satisfaction.

Craft an Action Plan Based on Employee Feedback

After receiving employee feedback, it’s important to act on it quickly and efficiently. Even small changes can show employees that you value their opinions and listen to their needs.

Follow up on open-ended employee responses, and be particularly curious about why employees label themselves as promoters or detractors. If your eNPS is low and most respondents cited poor employee belonging, for example, you have a clear starting point.

After you’ve analyzed the survey results, employers should set measurable goals for improving employee satisfaction. This could include improving communication between management and employees, providing additional training or resources, or making other changes to workplace policies.

That said, don’t make huge changes based on a single eNPS reading. This metric is especially helpful when you track it over time (which is why pulse surveys are an effective delivery vehicle.

Engage With Detractors

Detractors are people who gave your company a poor rating. They’re unhappy with you as an employer and could contribute negative word of mouth. Assess the data to learn why they gave such a low rating. From there, you can develop more targeted surveys to identify some of the specific challenges and crowdsource potential solutions.

When employees feel their complaints are heard and that they have a voice in the remedy, they’re more likely to appreciate your efforts — potentially changing their eNPS over time. Keep in mind, though, that eNPS surveys are usually anonymous. You can glean trends and follow-up questions from what Detractors tell you, but you wouldn’t confront them directly. Instead, fold these concerns into your ongoing employee engagement efforts.

You won’t be able to change every Detractors’ mind, but addressing their concerns gives you a fighting chance. It also shows Passives and Promoters that you care about the workforce, which could keep them from slipping into Detractor territory.

Leverage Your Promoters

Your promoters are ambassadors for your brand. Encourage them to spread positive word of mouth about your company through social media and other channels. Consider where you might be able to use their stories for employer branding or recruitment materials.

Don’t forget about your Passives. They don’t dislike your organization, but something is holding them back from recommending them to people they know. Look at their top concerns and see whether you can get more information via upcoming pulse surveys, employee focus groups, or other engagement.

Beware of Accuracy

While the eNPS can provide employers with a valuable snapshot of potential morale and engagement, it shouldn’t be used as a comprehensive metric of employee satisfaction.

Bias can affect eNPS results, including open-ended responses. Employees who worry about negative consequences might not participate or might hide their true feelings, especially if they’re Detractors. Separately, incentives could influence whether employees participate or how they respond, also leading to skewed results.

Combine With Other Metrics

Be aware that eNPS is a snapshot of employee sentiment at a specific moment in time. It doesn’t provide employers with a holistic view of employee engagement over time, as it doesn’t consider ongoing, long-term changes in employee sentiment.

Your score also doesn’t dictate a specific direction or action. Complement eNPS with other metrics, such as employee feedback surveys or performance management data, to get a better picture of employee sentiment.

Inspire Change With Employee Net Promoter Score

ENPS can be a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes. And the good news is that if you’re an Enboarder® customer, you don’t need to remember how to calculate eNPS. You can easily measure eNPS in any of your employee journeys with the click of a button and you can check on how your eNPS is changing over time in your Dashboard. With that knowledge in hand, you’re empowered to create positive change in your organization.