Companies tend to do a lot of hand-wringing over employee retention as they strive to minimize the negative financial and operational impact of employee turnover. Their employee retention efforts often involve some sort of benchmarking process, to give them some sense of how their turnover rates compare to those of other comparable companies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides a ton of data on employee turnover that’s invaluable in helping to come up with those benchmarks, but the problem is that getting to that data and extracting meaningful information from it has always been an extremely cumbersome process. But not anymore.
Now there’s an app for that. It’s EE Turnover Tracker, launched earlier this month by Nobscot Corp., a retention-management software and services provider in Kilauea, Hawaii. I spoke with Nobscot CEO Beth Carvin about it, and she explained why it’s so important for HR professionals to benchmark their employee turnover against national and industry norms in the first place:
When you’re looking at your own numbers, it’s hard to know whether you’re doing well, or doing terribly. Companies are really good at tracking their turnover—HR people know how to do that. But it’s often in a vacuum. You might look at your numbers and see that your voluntary turnover rate is 20 percent. Now the CEO says, “OK. Is that good? Are we doing great, or are we doing really poorly?” So it helps to be able to see how you’re doing relative to others. And there are differences between regions and industries. The BLS provides industry-specific data and region-specific data.
The EE Turnover Tracker is Nobscot’s first mobile app. I mentioned to Carvin that I’ve found that this type of app is often born of a desire to establish a presence in the mobile app world, rather than to address a demand that has been identified. She said that’s far from the case here:
How this came about is an interesting story. Years ago, when we were new and trying to get people to come to our website, we had found all of this BLS data. It was very difficult to access and to understand. We put this data up on our website, and created these beautiful graphs. People started coming to it, and Google loved it, which was nice for us. But it was very cumbersome for us—for several years we updated these graphs, and our site became a go-to place to find the data easily. As our company grew, we got busy with our core business, which is exit interview technology, new-hire surveys, and mentoring technology, and we didn’t have time to update these graphs. At least every other week, we had people coming to us, asking for the updated data.
Finally, we thought, wouldn’t it be cool if everybody could have at their fingertips, push a button, and in seconds have the latest data. So it was born out of everybody needing this data, and the data being there, but being very, very challenging to get to and understand.
Carvin elaborated on how the app works:
The BLS produces a lot of fantastic information—they have the raw data, and we pull from the raw data. It’s all publicly available information. Every month the BLS puts out new numbers. Our first version of the app provides the average for the most recent 12-month period, so every month the data changes a little, with the oldest month falling off, and the newest month coming in. So you’re always getting the most-recent 12-month snapshot. Our next version will allow you to see changes over time.