In an industry like finance, numbers logically form the basis for most decisions save often for one noticeable exception – human resources.
But Visier aims to change that, chief strategy officer Dave Weisbeck explained. Visier is a cloud-based workforce intelligence company counting BMO, PayPal and BNY Mellon among its clients. They help financial services companies employ data and analytics to deliver better performance.
Finance people use numbers to make decisions every day of course, but when those numbers are attached to countable matters like currency it is fairly straightforward. Not the case when the topic is less tangible like personnel decisions, Mr. Weisbeck explained.
“It’s hard to be more scientific about it sometimes.”
Yet companies are often sitting on a mountain of data that can help them inject fact into qualitative decisions such as hiring, Mr. Weisbeck said. It takes someone to identify promising data pockets and work with that company to set proper criteria.
“Our job is to be that technical hand that gives them the answer to their questions but also be the brain,” Mr. Weisbeck said.
Perhaps a large company is looking to hire an entry-level sales position in a specific region. Who’s worked there in the past, and how successful were they? What is the current staffing mix? Why is the position open in the first place? Does that point to unidentified issues of culture or supervision?
Visier can help companies plan for the proper way to achieve specific business outcomes, Mr. Weisbeck explained. What are the implications of changes in a company’s healthcare costs? A staff member is considering leaving the company and the company is debating whether to counter, let that person go or give them a promotion. Comparing the employee’s performance to others across the company can yield surprising results, Mr. Weisbeck said. In some situations models have suggested a company is better off without an employee that by certain criteria was not performing as well as thought.
A thorough analysis of employee outputs and long-term record can help identify the right and wrong people to lay off. It can also reveal misconceptions that impact entire recruiting processes. One company had a number of people relocate to a city to work for them. After some left the company they assumed it was due to issue related to the relocation but a deeper analysis showed it was more to long commute times.
Another thought their best path to success was to bring in stereotypical top-performing Ivy Leaguers seemingly on the fast track to success. A deeper dive actually showed their best performers were actually people who need part-time jobs to pay for college.
One company wanted to get to the root of a gender inequality issue, believing people were quitting because of little chance at a promotion. An analysis showed men and women were getting promoted at similar rates but more women were leaving the company before they were up for promotion in the first place. That company worked to improve their retention strategy.
A deep analysis led to one company radically changing its retention policy, Mr. Weisbeck recalled. This company would occasionally lose people with rare skill sets and automatically fought hard to retain them, believing they needed to keep them from competitors. As it turned out, that company was better off letting low or middling performers move to the competition as those competitors suffered from weaker talent while the Visier client gained from their loss.
“People are thought of as soft capital, but they can be 70 per cent of a company’s true costs,” Mr. Weisbeck explained. “Are you putting the commensurate level of investment into making personnel decisions? Why or why not?
Most don’t put the same rigor of thought into them as they do into (financial expenditures) but finance really is a people industry,” Mr. Weisbeck said.