Culture & Engagement

Tracking your net promoter score for employees

employee working at laptop

You probably already know the benefits of building a strong employer brand. So today I want to talk about a scoring system that might help: the net promoter score (NPS). This system is more traditionally used to measure customer loyalty – but can be just as easily applied to your workforce.

What is a net promoter score?


If you’ve never heard of NPS, then I can almost guarantee you’ll recognise it when I tell you what it is. You see, it is a very popular scoring system for companies wanting to find out how loyal their customers are – and it is calculated by asking one very simple question:


On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this product/service to a friend?


The answers to this question are tallied up and calculated as follows:


 * Scores of 9 or 10 are classed as ‘promoters’

 * Scores of 7 or 8 are classed as ‘passives’

 * Scores of 6 or less are classed as ‘detractors’


The percentage of detractors is subtracted from the percentage of promoters. The final result is your net promoter score. And in theory, this should tell you how loyal your customers are – a high number is thought to mean a high probability of business growth.

Using a net promoter score as an employer


As an employer, you can use the net promoter score for employees. All you need to do, is switch ‘customers’ for ‘employees’, and switch ‘product’ for ‘working at your company’.


Your employee net promoter score is probably best calculated by asking this:


On a scale of 0-10, how likely would you recommend working here to a friend?


One of the reasons NPS is thought to be so effective, is because it assesses ‘word of mouth’ recommendation. As any marketer will tell you, this is the most powerful form of marketing.


So, whereas the traditional net promoter score will tell your company how successful your product will be, the employee net promoter score will help you to understand how good your company is likely to be at attracting top talent, and retaining existing talent.

Checking your net promoter score with a pulse survey


The best way to grab your net promoter score, is to fire it out as a pulse survey. I talk a bit about pulse surveys in this article, but essentially, a pulse survey is just a quick-fire, single-question survey that you send to a few, or all, employees, to grab a snapshot of a moment in time.


You could, of course, include the net promoter question as part of your regular employee survey, if that is something you do.


But the reason I recommend using a pulse survey is because uptake is generally quite high. Employees don’t like filling out big heavy surveys with dozens of pages and sometimes hundreds of questions. But a quick one-question survey is easy to fill out.


Plus, you should make this totally anonymous. Remember that your goal is not to try and force a positive score – you can’t do anything useful with a fake score. You’re trying to understand the sentiment across your workforce.

Calculating your employee net promoter score


Once you have your results in, you’ll want to calculate the scores in the same way I outlined earlier. Here are what your scores mean:


 * Scores of 9 or 10 are classed as ‘promoters’

 * Scores of 7 or 8 are classed as ‘passives’

 * Scores of 6 or less are classed as ‘detractors’


You’ll want to subtract the percentage of detractors, from the percentage of promoters, to get your score.


For example, imagine 200 people answered your survey. If 30 of these people scored 6 or less, then that gives you a detractor percentage of 15. If 80 of these people scored 9 or 10, then this gives you a promoter percentage of 40. Thus, your net promoter score is 25. I think. You might want to check my maths!

Understanding your net promoter score


But what the hell does a net promoter score of 25 even mean? Well, in a nutshell, anything in the minus figures is overall bad. Anything in the positive figures is overall good.


A score above zero indicates that your employees are, overall, happy with their employment. Happy to the degree where the majority of your workforce would recommend you as an employer, instead of warning people away. Therefore, a high score suggests that you have a healthy talent attraction and retention strategy in place.


Some people breakdown scores like this:


 * Less than -50 = terrible

 * Less than 0 = bad

 * More than 0 = good

 * More than 50 = excellent


You can never score less than -100, and you can never score more than 100. The higher your number is, the more likely it is that new people will be eager to join your business – and the more likely existing employees will want to stay.


But you shouldn’t get too hung up on the figures and benchmarks. Ideally, you just want to work on pushing your score as high as possible, through making improvements to your business and the way you manage your employees.


You will already know that talent attraction and talent retention are crucial to your business. And if you want help making that case to senior management, I’ve written about that here.

Improving your net promoter score


You don’t have to use a net promoter score as an indicator of how good or bad you are doing as an employer. But it is certainly one way to do it. And the best way to improve your net promoter score as an employer, is the same as how you would improve any score, really. You have to get to know your employees, and find out what they actually want.


Some employers conduct surveys, and that’s an OK way to do it. Just make sure you’re asking about the things that matter to your people, and make sure you act on the results!


As an example of this, I’ll leave you with a short video from one of our customers: Circle IT. This video follows Jennifer Griffiths’s story, as she uses the results of her employee survey to reduce staff turnover from 54% to just 15% – saving her company over £100,000 in the process!