During what is called The Great Resignation, it’s more important than ever for employers to maintain a happy and productive workforce. Charley Miller is helping employers do just that with data-driven reports in a new company called OrgVitals. We spoke with him about what OrgVitals does to revamp the culture in an organization.
How did the idea for OrgVitals come about?
Miller: The backstory is I started a company called TouchCast. It went from me as the first full-time person and co-founder to over 100 people in seven different time zones. We were doing remote before remote was really even a thing. The hardest problem we had to solve wasn’t with sales or the product or the technology. It was figuring out how to keep ourselves working as a really functional team, efficiently and effectively. It was a culture problem–how to get people, especially in the context of remote work, to feel like they align, have a sense of belonging, and understand the company values.
And that’s not something you can leave to chance.
Miller: Culture is this murky, messy thing. There are a thousand things going on. I thought there had to be an easier way for someone trying to grow a company to be strategic about culture. At TouchCast, all of these systems and processes we invented for ourselves that worked at twenty people didn’t work at forty people. Like so many organizations, we were spinning our tires and just lots of meetings and lots of slack and emails. So I became really passionate about it. That’s when I started reading the research that spawned Unitonomy.
What influences helped you along the way?
Miller: I met Dr. Brad Shuck at the University of Louisville because I was Entrepreneur-in-Residence there. I really enjoyed his research and IP around employee engagement. He was moving into what’s called ‘work determinants of health.’ He became an advisor and ended up becoming a co-founder of OrgVitals. We then brought in Kristina Rodriguez, who was Global Sales Director at TechStars.
How does the system work?
Miller: Our system uses network analysis to understand the relationships between people inside an organization. Then we layer all kinds of culture data on top of that to figure out who needs support. I think the employers who are going to win in the future are the ones that understand how to continuously adapt to the needs of their people.
What data do you track?
Miller: Sometimes communication or alignment. Sometimes connectedness and inclusion vs. isolation. We can ascertain those things from our analysis. We then package those results in reports for the employers to really understand what they need to act on–not just to retain their people but to show them what they need to do to support a sustainably high performance in their people. So I think we’re working at the head of what we call preventive health for the workplace.
Are you finding more organizations are being receptive to this kind of analysis?
Miller: Most organizations we talk to are ready to go all in on this kind of advanced data. Some are starting to hire for roles like Chief Culture Officer. We have 37 consulting practices around the country using our system.
Consultants are our boots on the ground. They hold the hands of the employers making the changes. That’s been our model to date. But now we’re starting to raise money to automate our systems so that, as employers start to onboard these new roles, they can be in charge of this culture piece.
How do you draw the data from organizations?
Miller: They bring it to us. We’ve developed our network analysis and we layer that data on. Then, with our predictive model, we can ascertain what’s going on. If an organization doesn’t have any data, they use some of our IP to get what they need. One is a 20-question survey to get a macro sense of what’s going on in culture. From there, we have a library of 28 additional assessments for really diving into specific issues across the culture.
Is the system top-down or do you interact with individual employees?
Miller: Good question. At this point in time, it’s very much for leaders who are running transformation. We’re in the process now of raising money to develop a system that goes directly to employees so they can have an outside advocate. We have a blockchain tool for completely anonymous, completely confidential encrypted feedback so people can really speak truth to power.
What kind of funding have you gotten so far?
Miller: We’d raised enough money through Unitonomy and through Render Capital for a seed round. We won the Render Competition and that got us $25,000 of non-dilutive funding. My initial worry when I was starting this was maybe I have to go outside of Louisville to find the initial capital. But I didn’t have to and that was fantastic.