The great resignation is showing no sign of slowing down and the Architecture Billings Index is still growing, albeit softening a bit. Firm profitability and volatile supply chains remain top of mind, as does the ability to find the right candidate to fill positions in firms and make sure there are enough people to get the job done. That’s where the Employee Net Promoter Score comes in, otherwise known as the eNPS.

The eNPS is a way to measure how willing or likely employees in your firm would recommend their workplace to friends and colleagues. Below the surface though, the score is ultimately an indicator of employee engagement, which has been shown to have direct connections to employee retention, productivity, and a firm’s financial health and profitability. The higher the eNPS, the more likely your firm is to be profitable. While eNPS does not yet seem to be widely implemented in the field of architecture, many eNPS consulting firms list clients such as Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Google, Tektronix, Microsoft, Lego, and Zoom

The eNPS backstory
The eNPS is considered the in-house counterpart to the popular Net Promoter Score developed by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and Satmetrix Systems during the 1990s. In essence, the score is determined by asking one question: How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend as a good place to work?

Employees are then asked to respond on a scale of one to 10, and overall answers are divided into three different categories: nine to 10 for “ambassadors” or “promoters”; seven to eight for “passives”; and six and below for “critics” or “detractors.”

Detractors are employees that are unlikely to recommend your firm to a friend or colleague. The assumption is that these individuals are unhappy or disengaged with their work. The goal for any organization is to have as few of these as possible. Passives are employees who give a neutral or middle response, and they are considered just that “neutral.” They neither actively support their employer, but they are probably not saying anything negative about it either. The assumption is that they are satisfied with their job, but not excited enough to be advocates.Ambassadors or promoters are employees that are your firm’s biggest supporters. They are willing to hit the pavement and vouch for the company. These individuals are your most loyal people.

Once you have all the scores, the eNPS is calculated as follows: Subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. (The passives do not count in the scoring.) A final eNPS score can vary from -100 to 100.

Understanding your eNPS score
If your eNPS is negative, you most likely have an employee loyalty problem. Leadership should take a negative score seriously as it often suggests greater issues with corporate culture and engagement. Employers should act swiftly to identify underlying issues to improve the firm’s employee experience.

If your eNPS is positive, amazing! Your goal should be to maintain the firms’ current promoters at a healthy level and keep converting passives and detractors into promoters.

What is a good eNPS score?
Ultimately, there is no universal benchmark for a good eNPS. The rule of thumb is to always aim for a positive score. In general:

  • Any value below -10 is a cause for concern
  • A score between 10 and 20 is considered normal
  • Any score above 40 is great news

The eNPS metric is important because it provides a benchmark to understand where your firm is now, and how much improvement is needed.

How do I implement the eNPS survey?
In most cases, companies tend to wrap the eNPS into a broader employee annual survey to get the best picture of employee engagement overall. It is hard to use the eNPS as the only indicator of your employee engagement. A broader survey will also help reveal which areas of the overall employee experience may need attention to improve upon your eNPS.

In addition to an annual survey, some companies have been known to implement the eNPS on a more regular basis, usually with the addition of the following questions:

  • What do you like about working for us?
  • How can we do better?
  • Or, more simply: what is the main reason for this score?

Using a combination of the bigger survey and pulse surveys throughout the year will help organizations see whether or not the changes they are making to improve their eNPS are actually working.

How do I improve my eNPS?
Start with the following:

  1. Share the eNPS results: Employees are interested in knowing your findings. It is as equally important to acknowledge a negative number, and use it as an opportunity to involve employees in increasing the eNPS in the future.
  2. Avoid creating new detractors: Even though the survey is anonymous, you should use additional findings in the employee survey to address any conditions causing a negative response.
  3. Collaborate with employees: The eNPS represents employee satisfaction at a specific moment in time, but to understand the full meaning behind the score, its essential to ask employees for feedback. This is even true of firms that are doing well, to ensure you maintain your eNPS.
  4. Create an action plan: Design a strategy through employee engagement to improve eNPS , no matter your score. Generally speaking, if empowered to create change, employee groups are great at improving employee engagement.

The views and conclusions from this author are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine or of The American Institute of Architects.