Structural Launches with Software to Unleash Employee Productivity
Structural is on a mission to unlock workplace data to help optimize the way offices function.
The employee-management software startup—based in Indianapolis and St. Paul, MN, and backed by High Alpha—has set out to apply analytics and other technologies to produce workforce insights that were previously hiding in the raw data of human-resources files.
Until recently, there was no easy way to mine workplace data for actionable information pertaining to employee attributes and skills, internal networks, and how staffers manage their time. Structural CEO and co-founder Scott Burns says he wants to change that.
“People get stuck doing detective work to figure out which employees have certain skills, or who they have relationships with,” Burns says. With Structural, he adds, company leaders can identify and nurture talent within their organizations while leveraging their current HR systems to create value and accelerate growth.
Burns, a member of Generation X, says that while people his age may be “a little more comfortable with hierarchies,” millennials tend to abhor them. They resent having to do things simply because that’s the way they’ve always been done, especially if a more efficient solution is available. They also like having flexible schedules with plenty of work-life balance. More than anything, Burns explains, millennials want to feel like they have “an extraordinary impact” on their workplaces.
“Lots of companies do the kind of employee surveys we like to call ‘free snacks, high-fives, and smiles,’” Burns says. “That’s important, but by focusing on it, companies undersell what millennials want. Two-thirds of millennials say they don’t take their deepest talents to work, and one-third say they expect to leave their job within six months. I think those two things highly correlate.”
Structural’s system works by creating a master profile for each employee that company managers can use to do things like solve problems and form project teams. The software pulls in “basic demographic information” from HR, payroll, and performance management systems; key performance statistics; and personal data from social media profiles or custom fields determined by the corporate customer. Burns says what separates Structural from its competitors are “integrations to data sources and a mobile-first interface.”
The company co-founders’ software-as-a-service expertise is also a differentiating factor. Burns is the former CEO and co-founder of St. Paul-based GovDelivery, which Vista Equity Partners acquired for $153 million in 2016. Chip House, Structural’s CMO, was ExactTarget’s sixth employee, where he worked for more than 13 years. (ExactTarget was bought by Salesforce for $2.5 billion in 2013.)
“As we watched ExactTarget grow, amazing things happened when we empowered people on their own,” House says. “It doesn’t mean management doesn’t play a role. But where management wastes time by trying to build inorganic connections between employees, Structural facilitates organic connections.”
And what about those companies that don’t want to change the way things work now? What happens to managers who prefer hierarchies?
“Companies have a choice whether they want to win or lose as the workforce is changing,” Burns says. “If they don’t do this proactively, employees will find a way to solve their own problems with tools like LinkedIn,” which may thwart employee retention, he adds, because LinkedIn is where lots of people find new jobs.
Burns estimates the market for Structural’s software is potentially in the “low billions,” and he’s confident that market will expand dramatically once the company adds more features, such as predictive analytics, to its software.
Burns says Structural is a tool for “employee success management”—an important distinction, in his estimation.
“A lot of employee management systems lead with vacation requests and time tracking,” he says. “We’re leading with the work. Our software actually makes platforms like [popular employee management system] ADP stronger.”
With a 10-person team, Structural has grown thanks to an undisclosed investment from High Alpha and capital from the co-founders. The company already has 10 customers with more than 1,000 employees total.
Since Structural spent a year in stealth mode refining its software, Burns says the company’s primary focus for the next year will be adding more customers, doubling its staff, and finding outside investors.