This article was updated on August 29, 2018.

Using the Net Promoter Score for HR is an innovative way to identify an organization's most loyal employees, and then engage those employees to improve recruiting initiatives. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metric originally designed to measure customer loyalty. Customer-focused organizations use NPS because they need to identify loyal customers to maintain and expand their base. That process allows them to review their methods and double down on the the things that worked and/or fix those aspects of the process that a customer doesn't like.

So why couldn't HR teams use NPS to find loyal employees and engage them in helping with the recruiting process?

They can.

According to Net Promoter System, there is an employee version of NPS that CHROs should become familiar with, and it can change the way organizations measure employee loyalty. According to Bain & Company, organizations like Rackspace, the cloud services firm, are using NPS for HR to measure employee engagement and then tie it back to the performance of the organization.

To understand the value of NPS for HR, it is important to first understand how NPS works.

How NPS Works

NPS data is collected using a survey that asks one simple question:

How likely are you to recommend this organization/product/service to a friend or colleague?

Respondents are asked to rate their answer to the question on a scale of 0 to 10. The question is then followed up with:

What is the primary reason for your score?

This is an optional, open-ended question. In some cases, an NPS survey has a request that reads something like this:

If you would like to be contacted by a manager about your score, please complete the fields below: name, email and phone number.

That's it.

And while organizations do vary the questions slightly to match their particular needs, the two simple questions and one request are the foundation of NPS.

How Can NPS Be Used in Employee Referrals?

NPS identifies an organization's most loyal customers by finding "promoters." According to the Net Promoter Network, promoters are people who give an NPS score of 9 or 10 on the survey. A promoter is a "loyal enthusiast who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth." The same principle can be applied to employees. Employees who provide a score of 9 or 10 on the employee NPS survey could be leveraged as the organization's promoters.

In general, NPS surveys do not require people to enter their name, and it is typical practice on surveys to be anonymous so people feel free to give honest feedback. The dilemma in using NPS to identify promoter employees is the balance between anonymity and the need to identify who your promoters are.

One approach is to structure the survey to include a request for employees who score a 9 or a 10. The follow-up request could be

Thank you for providing such a high score. If you would like to participate in our organization's brand ambassador program, please provide your name, email and phone number. Someone from our team will reach out to your shortly.

Encourage Promoters to Recruit More

Once you have identified your promoters, you should treat them well. Establishing an ambassador program is a great way to engage promoters in recruiting efforts and to ensure they understand how valuable this contribution to the organization really is.

Some elements of this program could include

  1. Membership in an exclusive club. By putting employee promoters into a group called "brand ambassadors," you immediately say "This is important, and this group is special." The recruiting team can organize meetings with them on a regular basis, nurture the group and provide direction as to how they can best get the word out.
  2. Provide tools and access. If promoters are going to refer friends and colleagues, they should have the tools to fast track job applications. You want promoters to be able to say to referrals with confidence, "Apply here, and I will have a recruiter reach out to you right away."
  3. Share results and elicit promoter help in running the program. Be transparent about results, recognize and reward ambassadors who refer candidates who join, and ask ambassadors for feedback about program initiatives, goals and possible changes.

NPS is a proven system for understanding customer loyalty. Because organizations who are known for great customer loyalty rely on NPS to grow, HR should also consider a similar strategy for identifying and engaging employee promoters to help expand recruiting efforts.

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