HR Acuity, a platform built for employee relations and investigations management, today announced that it raised $47 million in a minority investment from K1 Investment Management. CEO and founder Deb Muller says that the capital — which is the first that the Florham Park, New Jersey-based company has publicly disclosed — will be put toward hiring and ongoing platform expansion initiatives.
Workplace conflict is pervasive. According to a study by CCP Global, the publisher of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, 85% of employees say that they experience some amount of “inevitable conflict” at work. The consequences of clashes in the workplace span lowered productivity and performance, lost time, and greatly increased stress. In addition, CPP’s research found that employees averaged over two hours every week dealing with conflict, translating to about $359 billion — or 385 million days of work — devoted to conflict resolution.
Launched in 2009, HR Acuity is designed to help enterprise human resource (HR) and employee relations (ER) teams document employee issues including performance management and allegations of discrimination, bullying, or harassment. The platform offers templates, reporting, benchmarking, and analytics tools designed to let HR professionals conduct investigations, identify trends, and implement policies to meet organization-wide goals.
“After serving in executive HR roles at various Fortune 500 companies, I saw that companies lacked a strategic, standardized approach to employee investigations and relations. But I felt that if we looked at employee behavior and could get more prescriptive and consistent with how we treated employees when things go bad, we could have better outcomes for companies and employees,” Muller told VentureBeat via email.
Tracking workplace issues
Problems arising from a toxic workplace culture can severely impact employees’ well-being. A 2018 report from Randstad found that 58% of workers have quit a job — or are considering it — because of disruptive workplace politics. The reverse is also true. According to a Columbia University study, the average turnover rate at companies with negative cultures (48.4%) was nearly four times that of companies with ostensibly healthier cultures (13.9%). Turnover can have serious monetary consequences, as it can cost 400% of the salary of a skilled worker or executive to replace them.
HR Acuity aims to assist by enabling HR departments to track culture, policy, leadership, and other employee relations issues using a standardized process and repository. Via the platform, investigators gain access to “court-ready documentation” as well as letters, protocols, guides, and interview templates to support the identification of — and communication with — the parties involved in a dispute. HR Acuity also includes a history of employee cases and tools that show how similar issues were handled to ensure “fair and appropriate” remediation, as well as reports that compare organizations across particular metrics.
HR analytics allows companies to analyze data according to demographics, issue type, individual employee, department, and more. The search features highlight patterns of behavior and manages recurring issues, while standard reports show common discrepancies, gaps, and overlaps.
“Customers use our proprietary benchmarking tool, based on anonymized data, to understand how their organization compares to similarly sized organizations on specific employee relations metrics and outcomes. Our proprietary algorithms normalize and extrapolate anonymized client data delivering simple, yet powerful context,” Muller said. “These insights help HR leaders prioritize initiatives and know where investments will pay off by understanding root causes. The analytic capability within our product provide a powerful set of predictive insights to help our customers identify potentially harmful patterns and trends before they damage their culture.”
According to HR Acuity’s own research, 92% of ER teams are now actively tracking employee relations and investigations data. A separate survey the company commissioned concluded that ER technology can “reduce risk, improve turnover rates, and improve ER team efficacy — all of which translates into significant cost and resource savings.”
Considering 86% of employees — that’s 4 out of 5 — feel colleagues at their organization aren’t heard fairly or equally, that’s key. As high-profile firings at tech giants like Netflix, Google, and Apple have shown, HR investigations that don’t involve all the relevant stakeholders — or that appear to have alternative motives — both harm an employer’s image and demoralize its workforce.
“The pandemic, along with the current social and political climate, has elevated employee relations as the new strategic imperative for enterprises. Leveraging technology for managing sensitive and complex employee issues is no longer optional … It has increased the importance of HR Acuity and shown that documentation and analytics are essential for teams to react to workplace events and plan for the future,” Muller said.
HR Acuity has rivals in Hibob, Personio, and Spur, among others in the expanding HR tech space. Fortune Business Insights predicts that the HR tech market will grow from $24.04 billion in 2021 to a whopping $35.66 billion in 2038. According to Crunchbase, HR tech saw nearly $3.6 billion in venture funding for 260 deals in 2021, surpassing the total from last year.
Despite the competition, HR Acuity — which has around 90 employees — has managed to nab big-name customers including LinkedIn, Qualcomm, and Lyft to date.