Monday, July 8, 2019
Posted by: Gary Hotze
Tom Alexander, Founding Partner, Holistic, @holisticindex
Talent is everything these days. Holistic, a new tech company in Chicago, is helping companies use their data to attract, retain, and grow talent.
In 25 words or less, what is Holistic all about?
We use data to help companies understand and solve their challenges and create the best possible employee experience.
What problem do you solve and how do you solve it better than the competition?
We solve the problem of using data to analyze and address challenges in the workplace. We do it better than the competition in three ways. First, we rely on data to tell us empirically what challenges and opportunities a company faces. Second, we have solutions in place that we can deploy in a customized, specific, direct fashion to help the companies improve. Finally, we have woven a focus on diversity and inclusion in every aspect of what we are doing, and this is a major differentiator.
How did you get started?
We saw two issues: Companies everywhere are dealing with myriad challenges but are not really using data to get a handle on those challenges, so they are sort of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks in terms of solutions, which is very inefficient. Second, there is a huge focus on diversity and inclusion in the marketplace, but there are not a lot of specific solutions or answers out there. We believe that by combining these two challenges, there is an opportunity, so we launched Holistic to try and attack these.
How has your company culture evolved as Holistic has grown?
Well, now we’re starting to think about ourselves as a real company. It’s been over a year, we have a handful of people, including some folks who haven’t been with us for very long. And so we are starting to really think about what people need to be a part of what we’re doing, and what do we want from them -- which is dynamic, thoughtful, mission-driven hustlers who believe in what we are doing and are ready to change the world. Easy, right?
What are your primary goals for Holistic?
We really want to help people, and we always want to remember that this is ultimately about individual people going to their jobs, going to their experiences, and living their lives. So we want to be able to point to ways that we’ve improved people’s lives.
Where do you see Holistic in two years? Five? Ten?
Two years: Fully functioning platform as a service business that allows people to manage and improve all aspects of their employee experience using data.
Five years: The most important tool that companies or employees use in terms of managing their employee experience.
Ten years: That we have fundamentally changed the DNA of work to make it a more positive, fair, optimistic and rewarding experience.
What’s the No. 1 thing on your to-do list?
It’s a tie -- build out our technology solution and build the most bad-assed, diverse, awesome team you ever saw.
In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of being an Illinois business?
Pros: Amazing access to talent, Chicago is a world-class city, incredible infrastructure, all these major industries already in place, central location, and amazing Midwestern work ethic and loyalty.
Cons: I don’t really see any. All the stuff people always say about Illinois being an inhospitable climate for businesses due to taxes or regulations or the financial uncertainty of the state -- I think that’s all bullshit. The natural advantages of Illinois far exceed any drawbacks. So I guess I’ll say the weather?
What are the biggest challenges you face as you scale your business?
There’s a lot of people in this space, and there’s a limited understanding of what can be done. So at once we’re trying to build the best car, but we’re also basically helping invent the car at the same time. So that’s a challenge.
The other big challenge is that this work ultimately comes down to people, and so technology is a double-edged sword. By definition, every time you add more technology, you can serve more people, and faster. By the same definition, it becomes a less personal experience. And so we need to be thoughtful about how we maintain the level of people-focus -- for both our clients and their employees -- even as we become more efficient, more data-driven, more tech-based.
This one is all you… anything else you want to tell us?
Work is hard enough. It should be fun also. There is always something you can do, right now, to improve the employee experience for yourself, your employees, your colleagues. So it’s imperative that you take the first step, the first action, to answer that question -- What can I do?