As a HR Tech World blogger I interviewed Andrew Marritt to talk about Workometry which he is bringing to the disruptHR startup zone this October.
FAYE: Hi Andrew, we know each other through your work at OrganizationView but you are here to talk about Workometry. For people who don’t know you, can you briefly explain who are you and what do you do?
ANDREW: Yes, of course. I’m Andrew Marritt, Founder of OrganizationView, a prominent People Analytics practice. We’re based in Switzerland but with clients globally. As a firm we do 3 things: we are teach People Analytics, we provide capability and capacity to our clients to enable them to do it and finally we’ve developed an employee feedback product called ‘Workometry’
FAYE: You are a respected thought leader in analytics and big data so what made you focus on employee engagement and rethinking the employee survey?
ANDREW: In our client work doing the sort of analysis you mention we hit two issues. The first was that we had to deal with survey data and this data typically required lots of processing before we could use it in models. Second, with analytics you usually come to a stage quite quickly where you need to capture new data. For us this was mainly perception data. So you could say we’ve come at the survey from the perspective of data scientists. Our first motivation was solving these problems.
We also realised that executives often found the open text responses in surveys the most insightful and most likely to inspire action. The issue was that analysis of these comments didn’t scale well, especially when the comments are in multiple languages. So the analytic challenge was how to do this in real time, identifying what people are talking about and in what context. From a survey-taker perspective by focussing on text we can now ask a vastly reduced set of questions, increasing their experience whilst still getting richer data.
FAYE: What employee ‘events’ can you measure within the current solution and what plans do you have for future development?
ANDREW: A big influence in our thinking was how consumer teams measure, interpret and act upon customer feedback – so called Voice of the Customer approaches. So as well as using Workometry for regular pulse surveys we’ve built it so that it can be triggered by other systems at various events in the Employee Lifecycle. So these could be events such as with new joiners after their first 90 days, at exit, after performance reviews. It could be used to look at things such as the recruitment experience or even as a multi-stage feedback process around development events. By automating this process we remove the friction on the HR team.
A key differentiator is that we store all these data points in one big store. This enables us to do longitudinal analysis, identifying patterns between different events over an employee’s time with the firm.
FAYE: Who are your principal ‘buyers’ – is there a profile?
ANDREW: Yes. The key problem we set out to solve – the problem of dealing with vast amounts of free text comments in real time – is one most likely to be found in larger firms where they have to deal with tens of thousands of text comments often in multiple languages. We also currently tune our algorithms at the firm & question levels so you need a certain amount of data to get this to work.
Inside firms the two audiences are HR teams who are increasingly interested in improving the employee experience to drive engagement and internal communication teams.
Typically our clients have already used traditional employee surveys, become frustrated with their ability to drive change and are looking at taking their employee feedback to the next level.
FAYE: You talk to a lot of HR practitioners in the marketplace – have you seen any changes in their ability to innovate, engage and contract for new technologies?
ANDREW: Yes and no. My background includes a lot user experience testing and mapping. Ten years ago doing this within HR wasn’t well understood. Now HR typically cares about user experience. There is more that could be done in terms of systematic testing but it’s been a big shift.
From the perspective of analytics which is being integrated into many systems it’s hard to assess if you don’t have a good grasp of what it’s doing, what are the benefits and risks. This was what we’ve tried to address with our training which is really focussed on providing the knowledge and confidence for HR to be good consumers of analytics.
FAYE: A couple of more generic questions whilst I have you – what do you believe are pre-requisites in any new HR Tech?
ANDREW: User experience is obviously key. You need to think about why people would want to use the system, give you their information. You need a convincing answer to ‘what’s in it for me?’ This differs depending on whether it’s in their job description to use the system.
From a systems perspective there has to be an acceptance that HR technology exists in the broader context of an ecosystem of employee technologies, both HR systems but also business systems. From our perspective as analysts a good set of APIs is a huge help.
FAYE: What’s your idea of innovation?
ANDREW: My approach to innovation has always been to understand how other groups have solved a similar problems and then to adapt this to HR. So for Workometry this was from understanding Voice of the Customer. I had spent a lot of time working with marketing and customer experience teams.
I also spend quite a lot of time with university researchers and people working at the cutting edge in their fields. I’ve purposely built a multidisciplinary team.
FAYE: Thanks Andrew, and back to Workometry – tell me a little about the team working on this and how they work with your clients?
ANDREW: As well as myself I’m joined by Elliott Nelson. Elliott has led Talent and Learning functions both here in Europe and in the US. Elliott focusses on helping our clients drive action from data, often through a cultural shift to becoming a data-driven organization. We have a team of data analysts and computer scientists developing the software and algorithms.
FAYE: You are no stranger to the HR Tech European events, so what made you decide to take part in disruptHRTech this year and what would you like to achieve as a result of your participation??
ANDREW: I love what Marc and the team have managed to achieve with HR Tech Europe. I’ve been going to both Amsterdam and London events for some years and even co-chaired the inaugural London event. I’ve made quite a few friends and acquaintances through the events.
So when we decided to launch Workometry there was only one event we considered. It attracts the right people, both potential clients but also the greatest mass of influencers. DisrputHRTech gives us a great platform to talk to those who are interested in driving innovation within their firms.
More about Andrew
Andrew Marritt is the founder of OrganizationView, a prominent People Analytics practice based in Switzerland. Their clients are global firms who typically use OrganizationView’s data scientists to supplement existing HR analytics teams.
Before starting OrganizationView in 2010 he spent 15 years in management consultancy and leading global projects, usually involving technology and data for a number of global firms such as JP Morgan, Reuters, UBS and Alstom Power.
At HR Tech London this year Andrew ran a session demonstrating what people analysts do, mostly using R to collect, process, analyse and visualise data.
Andrew is on Twittter @andrewmarritt