Think Steve Jobs, and chances are teeming lines of customers outside Apple stores at dawn, all waiting to be the first to own the next i-whatever comes to mind. Jobs is known to be a maverick and a stellar designer. He is supposed to have driven up employment in the silver-plating or chrome-plating industry. What is little known about him, or about Apple for that matter, is the employee culture the company had come to believe in. And breathe every waking second.
At Apple, employees were not selling. Instead, they were connecting with customers. And Apple was doing much better than its peers in terms of sales or customer satisfaction. It was Richard Branson who famously said, “Customers come second, employees first.” Now correlate this to the fact that almost 85% of employees are unhappy at their workplace. Now you know why most companies striving to be the next Apple or Google don’t end up being one despite having perhaps the best product in town or the most vantage location or unbeatable pricing.
Happiness for the employees is not just limited to monetary fulfillment. It has a multi-dimensional relation with aspects like feeling productive at the workplace, having a sense of engagement, getting and seeking clarity in communication with the management, etc. Happy, engaged employees are, on average, 12% more productive than their less happy counterparts.
Each company may have its own set of yardsticks or a viewpoint on what they may understand as the apt employee engagement or happiness level. For some, like AON Hewitt, it’s the level of an employee's psychological investment. For others like Willis Towers Watson, it is the employees' willingness and ability to contribute to their success.
If employee engagement and happiness form the basic success structure for an organization that truly invests in its workforce, the next big question is how to measure it all up? Certainly, an employee may feel happy and engaged in one quarter and feel just the opposite in another when work pressure or deadlines are just too stern. As Peter Drucker, someone regarded as the greatest business management thinker with over 39 well-known books to his credit, says, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
In a world of data analytics, big data, and data mining, surely there must be a tool that can measure up on employee happiness or engagement? Welcome to the world of Net Promoter Score for Employee Engagement, a unique tool devised by fine-tuning Net Promoter Score (NPS), a trademarked technique of Bain & Company, Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.
eNPS measures an employee's engagement level by tracking whether the employee is willing to advocate employment in the company for others—or even the company and its products or services itself—or not. Depending on the answer to this single question often posed interestingly, the tool gives out a predictive score ranging from -100 to +100.
eNPS calculations can vary depending on when and how the question is asked and the score index used by an organization. For eNPS to be a successful metric, it must be constantly used and should not be an isolated, one-time poll. For this reason, most companies seek eNPS stats on a routine basis to get the correct pulse of employee happiness, engagement, or eNPS levels.
While eNPS is a trademarked score line predictive tool, it is also a philosophy that brings unexpected benefits to both the company and its clients. So, what exactly are the benefits of the employee net promoter score. How does it benefit your employees? Here is the lowdown on that. Measuring and tracking employee engagement levels apart, eNPS lends a ‘voice’ to your employees.
Like its parent Net Promoter System, eNPS also comes with a 3-tier structure of Huddle, Inner Loops, and Outer Loops. This unique structure amplifies the voice of the employees, opening up new communication channels and keeping rank and file in direct touch with the top management or even the Board.
Huddles allows employees to maintain short regular meetings to discuss customer feedback amongst them or even share gratitude towards each other as a team. Huddles allow employees to discuss the challenges they face and identify roadblocks, with managers usually stepping back. Importantly, Huddles allow employees to separate the issues they can solve from those issues that need the support of other teams or individuals in the organization. With this mechanism, most employees tend to feel a deeper sense of connection with each other and the company’s overall mission.
In the inner loop, supervisors collate the feedback from the employees and identify opportunities for resolution. To keep things from getting awkward, feedback is often logged in anonymously, allowing for an objective mechanism to solve issues that need collaboration in the wider organization. Once the inner loop understands the concerns, they are then passed on to the outer loop with suggestions.
All concerns from the Huddles with organization-wide ramifications and broader people issues are addressed at the Outer Loop level. Indirectly, this is feedback for the top management regarding the working atmosphere they have set up. To be truly effective, the Outer Loop mechanism must be transparent, rigorous, and comprehensive.
Apple Inc., many belief, is a successful enterprise today because of its innovative product line and brand value. In fact, the success mantra of the company has much to do with how it was able to engage employees at its roughly 500 stores, becoming the first organization to adopt eNPS, which was till then used only to attain customer feedback.
AT&T is another example of a successful enterprise hosting millions of employees across the globe using its in-house eNPS system named 'Hero' to streamline communication and clear employee problems and roadblocks.
It’s not a coincidence that companies that have the happiest and most engaged employees are the ones that have a high eNPS score. For example, popular cloud-based video conferencing software giant Zoom has an eNPS of 94. A comparably survey had 95% of employees state they would encourage people to work for the company. This has not only helped them attract talent but has made them a global leader in their market.
An enterprise’s goals and objectives start and end with the customer's voice. Its employees perform the dual act of acting on that customer's voice to fulfill the customer's need and carry the voice of the customer into the organization to other teams or individuals who are not customer-facing. So it becomes all the more important to allow employees to have a voice in the scheme of things. This will be borne out in the eNPS scores.
When employees are heard, and the communication channels are like freeways, employees feel empowered and more committed towards the job. Such an engaging work culture also means employees are more likely to go that extra mile in solving customer issues. This, in turn, allows the customer voice to be heard loud and clear in the organization since there may be different teams working in tandem to solve the customer issue at hand.
In fact, the more engaged an employee, the higher the likelihood of their taking up proactive roles to help the company attain its goals and targets. This can also be helped by redefining your work culture so that employees find it distinct and unambiguous. Email automation company SendGrid, for example, has defined its culture by 4Hs—Happy, Hungry, Humble, and Honest.
The company also calls every employee a “Gridder.” Combined, this helps the company develop a common behavior and deeper employee bonding reflected in their eNPS (latest score: 83) and eventually in their customer experience.
Employee engagement and commitment work in another interesting way to keep up customer satisfaction. Employees who are Advocates for the company and its product or services are frequently the employees who stay back with the company for longer. These long-standing employees tend to have internalized more knowledge about the company than those who do not stay with the company for long, thus helping customers better.
Industry statistics show that businesses with higher than average engaged employees result in 50% higher customer loyalty and 50% improved sales. A 5% uptick in employee retention can help profits surge by as much as 85%, owing to superior customer fulfillment, lower rehiring costs, and lower (new) customer acquisition costs.
Check out how an education management & consulting company increased eNPS by 25%
Just as a business strategy is driven by being customer-centric, a business’ HR strategy needs to be employee-centric. This goes a long way in building employee advocacy. Online real estate company Zillow exemplifies this approach. With more than 3000 employees, the company deems its HR function to be its most important function. Interestingly, it avoids many companies' workaholic approaches and instead invests in employee education and innovation. No wonder, then, that Zillow ended up with an eNPS of 65 in its latest survey.
eNPS is rising in popularity as organizations are today acknowledging that only a happy, engaged workforce can deliver optimum performance. Give your employees a voice by measuring their real-time engagement levels and weaving their feedback into your customer retention strategy.