Traditional Employee Engagement Surveys vs. the Employee Net Promoter System

By Kathryn Tyler Mar 1, 2013
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0313cover.gifThe primary difference between traditional employee engagement surveys and Employee Net Promoter System surveys is that the latter are shorter, simpler and more focused on eliciting comments. “A long questionnaire doesn’t always get to the core of the issue that is bugging employees,” says Catherine Nelson, consultant, loyalty and leadership practices, for FranklinCovey Co., a performance improvement company headquartered in Salt Lake City.

“The best way to get people to tell you what matters to them is to ask them the reason for their score,” she says. “You usually get to the most important issue, the biggest driver impacting loyalty, just by asking that simple question. Long surveys of 40, 50, 80 or more questions result in survey fatigue or the halo effect, where all of the scores are high.”

Carolina Biological Supply includes a handful of demographic questions in its employee Net Promoter surveys, such as “Which vice president do you work for?” and “Which category best describes your job?” These questions are asked to allow segmentation of responses when looking for patterns and trends isolated to certain areas and categories of employees, explains Katina Richmond, PHR, vice president of HR and organizational development for the Burlington, N.C.-based math and science education supply company.

But “The main survey question is ‘How likely is it that you would recommend Carolina as a place to work?’ ” Richmond says. The survey is administered annually in early May.

Rob Markey, co-author with Fred Reichheld of The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World, says simplicity is key to the survey’s effectiveness. “If I ask you, ‘How likely are you to recommend XYZ Company as a place to work?,’ it’s hard to argue with your feedback,” Markey says. “But if, instead, I ask about the quality of support, the deadlines, the work, the environment and such, the more detailed and less compelling the analysis will be.”

The author, a former HR generalist and trainer, is a freelance writer in Wixom, Mich.

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