This tool tells companies why you quit

Better management through better data.
Better management through better data.
Image: Dave Weisbeck, Visier
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Many HR departments are introduced to expensive big data tools that promise to revolutionize management but are never used. Too often these programs are too narrowly focused on one aspect of hiring or management.

“There’s a better way to solve this problem,”John Schwarz, founder of  workforce analytics company Visier, told Quartz. “The better way is to start with the end user, to start with the business person, and figure out what questions and metrics and scenarios they need to really understand.” For managers and HR professionals, the service provides access to big data that’s not abstract, but is granular enough to actually changes the way people manage.

Visier is a browser-based tool (pdf) that collects data on everything from skills and performance to compensation and worker satisfaction. It unifies data from services that companies are already using, like Taleo, an applicant tracking system, and Workday, human capital management software, along with benchmarking data from other third parties. The platform’s designed so that a non-HR expert can think of a question: “Why do people leave the company after six months?” and get not only a metrics on turnover, but an idea of why this happens.

So far, the company has raised nearly $50 million from investors including Summit Partners, Foundation Capital, and Adams Street Partners since it launched in 2011. The company has doubled its headcount to more than 100 people and has more than 50 customers including Yahoo, Nissan, ConAgra, and Time Inc. Revenue growth tripled last year, and is on pace to do so again this year.

Visier not only provides a snapshot of current data, but forecasts trends for the future against a company’s objectives, and builds scenarios of what a company can expect depending on different actions it takes.

Gabrielle Toledano, the head of HR at Electronic Arts and a board member of Visier, says that companies need to think a lot more intelligently about their people data.

“It’s becoming more important for people to, instead of just forecasting revenue, to forecast talent needs and anticipate changes so they’re prepared,” Toledano told Quartz.

Data has become a core part of EA’s HR strategy. The company’s moved from one yearly employee survey to three. EA is working to build predictive analytics on what makes someone a great hire or drives an employee to leave.

Traditionally, HR departments have classified exits as voluntary or involuntary, without noting whether it was good or bad for the company. It’s one thing if someone was effectively managed out for poor performance, and another entirely if they were poached. The why matters: replacing a person that leaves a company usually costs around one and a half times her salary before you consider lost productivity or customers. Reducing attrition by a few points or hiring more strategically has a large effect on the bottom line.