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Fans vs. Players: Why eNPS Is Not Enough

Fans vs. Players: Why eNPS Is Not Enough

by Nate Dvorak

Story Highlights

  • Employee engagement is crucial to converting your fans into players
  • Learn how to help your managers transform your organization

Are your employees fans or players?

Fans wear your jersey and cheer from the stands. Players put in extra practice, score points and give every last ounce of energy to win.

eNPS tells you who your fans are. Employee engagement tells you who your players are.

Some organizations use an Employee Net Promoter Score, or eNPS, as a kind of "temperature check" for their organization. (An example of an eNPS question might be: On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend your employer as a place to work?)

Gallup has measured employee "likelihood to recommend" for decades. We think it's an important measure of your employer brand, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

When it comes to business, employers need players, not just fans.

Of course, you want the people on your team to be fans of the team. But you don't just want a team of fans. You want people who are eager to play hard and win.

eNPS tells you who your fans are. Employee engagement tells you who your players are.

Engagement is a psychological state. When an employee is engaged, they are eager to come to work, intrinsically motivated to perform, and naturally seek out new and creative ways to improve your company. Your engaged employees are the people who do most of the work in your organization. The more you have, the more you can do.

How to Create More Players (and Fans Too)

Here's another way to think of it: An eNPS tells you how many advocates you have. But what creates advocates?

Gallup has found a strong correlation between employee engagement and eNPS:


Employees' Likelihood to Recommmend Their Employer, by Engagement Level
I would recommend my organization as a great place to work.
  Actively disengaged Not engaged Engaged
  % % %
Strongly agree (5) 1 14 59
4 8 40 32
3 34 34 8
2 28 9 1
Strongly disagree (1) 28 3 0



Gallup's employee engagement numbers suggest that being an engaged employee is a big factor in being an employer's advocate. If an employee is not engaged at work, they are likely not an advocate of your organization.

And that intuitively makes sense: People become fans of any brand or organization when they have specific, meaningful experiences with it. In other words, a high eNPS likely follows high engagement (caused by particular workplace experiences).

Gallup's Q12 employee engagement questions measure specific workplace experiences, including:

These experiences consistently increase engagement -- and, as a byproduct, they increase the likelihood to recommend as well.

In Terms of Proven Change, eNPS Has Limited Value

Here's something else to consider: While a high eNPS is an important outcome, it's not very actionable.

For example, if you discover one of your teams has a low eNPS, what do you do next? Well, you don't really know what to do. A low eNPS shows something is going on, but further investigation is required.

In contrast, if you ask your employees if they feel their opinions count at work -- which is an important indicator of engagement -- then you are already on your way to addressing the problem.


From a leader's perspective, the purpose of an employee survey is to understand the gaps/problems and at the same time come up with actions to improve the organization. The best survey results clarify what the problems and solutions are, rather than raising more questions.

Gallup has decades of experience helping organizations authentically change their workplace culture. We've definitely helped them "move the numbers," but we've done that by identifying the few workplace behaviors that truly lead to increased performance, retention, organic growth and profit.

If you want to change your organization -- not just measure it -- you need to ask questions that managers and teams can act on. Create the kind of meaningful employee experiences that build brand advocates and attract stars.

Learn more about employee engagement and the employee experience to discover how Gallup can help you with your strategy:


Ryan Pendell contributed to this article.

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