Employee Engagement: a New Approach to Its Measurement, Analysis and Improvement


Many organisations have benefitted from the Net Promoter®* approach to measuring customer loyalty since first publicised by Fred Reichheld in Harvard Business Review (HBR) in December 2003. This article was based on research suggesting a correlation between increased Net Promoter Scores® (NPS®)* and profitable revenue growth.

The net promoter concept has since provided a powerful strategic and economic rationale for improving customer satisfaction, engagement and loyalty.

Over the past decade, companies have responded by investing in NPS programmes, and NPS has become a widely adopted customer engagement metric across the private, public and third sectors.

Well-executed NPS programmes have delivered:

  • ·         Better responses to customer issues;
  • ·         Improved business results; and
  • ·         Step changes in culture.

Employee Net Promoter Concept

We believe the net promoter approach can be translated from the customer engagement field to deliver comparable benefits in the employee engagement field, if suitably modified.

With this in mind, we have recently embarked on a programme of research to test new thinking on the measurement and analysis of employee engagement under the umbrella of the “Engage for Success (E4S)” movement** in the UK.

We believe this research will contribute to the achievement of E4S’s objective of improving the international competitiveness of the UK economy by: (a) creating a compelling strategic and economic rationale for improving employee engagement; and (b) informing clear, confident actions in this increasingly important field.

Needs-Based Approach

Rather than collecting NPS scores and associated verbatim comments (at significant expense, as is currently the norm in the customer engagement field), our approach to capturing employee perceptions starts by using qualitative techniques to establish fundamental employee needs and desired outcomes as the basis for survey feedback.

Needs are measured, using quantitative techniques, across employee groups, for both importance and satisfaction. The resulting data is readily understood and can be analysed in detail. As employee needs are expressed in a way which is comparable across all organisations, detailed benchmarking across sectors and geographies is also possible.

The resulting quantitative data can be used to answer important questions, such as:

  1. 1.       How important is each need to each employee?
  2. 2.       How well is each need satisfied for each employee?
  3. 3.       Which important needs are currently unsatisfied?
  4. 4.       What are the priority areas for consideration?
  5. 5.       How well do our results compare not only to organisations similar to us but all sectors and geographies?
  6. 6.       Which organisations, sectors and geographies are achieving best-in-class results, and what insights can be gleaned from their anonymised data?

This sort of analysis enables organisations to understand, in detail, how best to improve employee engagement, and, hence, organisational performance.

* “Net Promoter”, “Net Promoter Score” and “NPS” are trademarks of Fred Reichheld, Bain & Co and Satmetrix.

** Further information on E4S is at http://www.engageforsuccess.org.