With vaccinations rolling out, there is some hope of a post-COVID
world. In light of this optimism, many employers turn their thoughts
towards accelerating growth to make up for lost time. To achieve their
business goals, leaders will also need to ensure they have the right
people in the right teams — which really boils down to the attraction and retention of
It is very sensible to choose a key metric to track through this
important process. But it is important to choose the right metric — one
that will pick up whether teams are working well together. In this
article, we look at the trend to use eNPS (the employee Net Promoter
Score) and why, here at Friday Pulse, we think creating a Happiness
KPI is a better solution.
The eNPS — a derivative of the Net Promoter (NPS) score asking, “How
likely are you to recommend [Organization] as a place to work?” — is a
measure of employee wellbeing. Many businesses (and employee wellbeing
platforms) quote their eNPS score to attract talent. The logic here is
simple: if lots of employees are willing to promote their company, it
must be a good place to work.
While the desires behind thinking about wellbeing and eNPS use may be
altruistic, it’s a clumsy tool — it serves the employer better than the
employee. On the other hand, measuring employee happiness changes the
relationship between employer and employee, and allows real magic to
Here’s a look at how this works:
A dive into eNPS scores
The eNPS is a popular and easy way to calculate the average happiness
of employees. Like the
NPS, it looks at promoters (those likely to support your company) and
detractors (those likely to speak negatively about it). Those in the
middle are considered passives.
Respondents are given a scale of 0-10 to answer and then sorted.
- 0-6 are detractors
- 7-8 are neutral or passive
- 9-10 are promoters
To calculate the NPS, you subtract the % of detractors from the % of
promoters. The final scores can range anywhere from -100 to 100 and is
supposed to be a quick and easy number that checks employee
Employers can apply this test quarterly, and some are encouraged to use
it monthly to “check in” with their employees. Improvement in the score
shows that employees are doing better and are more satisfied with their
job. Or at least that’s what proponents of the eNPS would hope. The
reality is that the eNPS is an inherently flawed number.
The flaws of the eNPS survey
The eNPS can provide a lot of information — for the specific purpose
of recruiting. It is a perfectly fine measure of brand advocacy, but
it should not be a headline indicator of employee experience, and it
should not be how companies think of wellbeing.
The first flaw is the initial question, “How likely are you to recommend
[Organization] as a place to work?”
Questions about wellbeing should act as sign posts or guides about how
to improve your experience. This provides no guidance at all. There
are four main problems with this question:
- The question is focused on attracting talent to the organization,
rather than the employee’s experience
- The question asks the respondent to imagine how they would behave in
a hypothetical future situation, rather than asking them to report
on their own experience
- The question is not time-bound, so it is very general and can only
be asked infrequently
- It does not capture the dynamic nature of employee experience
Next, the eNPS doesn’t focus on the employee. It asks the employee to be
an advocate, instead of focusing on the experience of the employee or
asking what it can do for the employee. In this way, it feels as
extractive as questions about engagement — it becomes another thing that
the company will ask the employee to do.
It becomes another chore for the employee.
Sorting the numbers is also problematic. First, it reduces the 11-point
scale (0-10) to a 3-point scale. The scaling also appears to be
arbitrary. For example, why is 6 considered a detractor? Furthermore, it
scores 0-6 in the same way. Surely, someone that selected 0 is much more
upset than a 6. What this means is that statistical nuance has been
discarded in an effort to simplify the eNPS score.
And then the frequency that this question is administered brings a
further complication. Because it’s just a snapshot in time, it does not
account for the dynamic nature of employee experience. If an employee is
having a bad day, they may respond with a 6 but later in the day they
may respond with a better score.
Why the Happiness KPI works as a better solution
In many ways, employee experience is much like the daily, weekly,
monthly and yearly actions of a share price on the stock market. It
rises and falls constantly. Some days are better than others, just like
some months or years are better than others. A quarterly snapshot of
employee wellbeing is
akin to only looking at share price on a quarterly basis and then trying
to draw conclusions and conduct trend analysis based on limited
information — most financial investors would balk at that kind of
In the same way, employers be aware of trends in their workplace. A
single score is a snapshot that tells a story of a single moment in
time. To understand real trends, you need more data. This is why we
believe that the weekly measurement of happiness makes for a far more
reliable KPI than quarterly, or even monthly eNPS measurements. It’s
infrequent enough to not annoy employees while being frequent enough to
provide ‘real-time’ information that you can use.
Measuring happiness focuses on an employee’s real experiences instead
of hypotheticals. It changes the extractive relationship of
employer/employee into a more collaborative one. It sends the message to
employees that employers are willing to listen and act on employee
The relationship between the eNPS survey and happiness
While the eNPS captures an employee’s willingness to promote their
company, it doesn’t capture happiness. Happiness and the eNPS are, of
course, interrelated. It would be very strange if they weren’t. The
following chart comes from Friday Pulse clients who collected both the
Happiness KPI and eNPS data.
The graph confirms things that you may have already concluded as ‘common
sense’. Happy employees are much more likely to be promoters, and
unhappy employees are much more likely to be detractors.
What this means is that employee happiness is a good predictor of
employee advocacy. Happier employees are more likely to promote the
company as an excellent place to work. But, employee happiness has many
other advantages as your core people metric:
- It signals that the business cares about the employees’ experience of
- Data can be gathered on a weekly basis so people leaders can respond
quickly to any challenges.
Happiness also predicts a series of business-critical outcomes:
- Higher staff retention – unhappy employees are 2x more likely to leave
- Increased productivity – happier teams are 28% more productive
- Improved innovation – happier employees are 3x more creative and
In addition, it’s worth noting that many of our clients actively promote
their use of Friday Pulse in their recruitment programmes. They do this
because they know that it helps them show they care about their
employees and attract better talent.
How Friday Pulse can help
At Friday Pulse, we wholeheartedly endorse employee happiness as the
best measure of employee experience. While the eNPS does have some value
as a measure of employee advocacy, it is much less versatile and useful.
If you are looking for a more nuanced approach to recruitment while
truly understanding your people’s attitude towards your company, then we
recommend trying the Happiness KPI. And, we’re continuing to offer free
access to Friday Pulse for six weeks. Get in touch to book a
demo. We’d love to help.