International case study: Digitally-led HR at FIS


To give the HR function at FIS strategic voice certain processes were transformed to be data- and metrics-driven

The organisation

Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) as a brand is largely unknown. But if you’re making a business transaction there’s a pretty good chance software produced by the firm is behind it. First founded in 1968, the Florida-headquartered company today provides payment-processing and banking software and services to more than 20,000 customers in 130 countries worldwide. Much of its growth over the years has been through acquisition. The company is currently in the process of acquiring Worldpay, Inc for a reported $35 billion. Worldpay, Inc itself processes more than 40 billion transactions each year and supports more than 300 payment types in 120 currencies. In 2013 and 2014 FIS was ranked the number one financial technology company on the Fintech100. It employs 52,000 people globally.

The challenge

Isabel Naidoo, head of people strategy and analytics at FIS, was brought into the business in 2016 specifically to spearhead the plan of new chief people officer Denise Williams (who also arrived that year) to create HR leaders in the business, break poor engagement, and create a more digitally-led HR function. This kicked off with the rollout of Workday.

“Part of the engagement plan was to make greater use of metrics, move away from static feedback to more live and instant feedback, and give managers more informed decision-making by linking certain metrics – like performance and engagement scores – together,” says Naidoo, who has been instrumental to bringing in new technology partners to do just this.

The strategy

“When Denise arrived the strategy from very early on was to ensure HR was more data-driven,” recalls Naidoo.

“We looked at a variety of technology partners to look at different areas we wanted to delve deeper into, with Glint chosen to take the engagement piece to the next level. We decided to take staff on a two-year transformation process, where our promise would be that we would close the gap between what their initial reasons for joining had been and what the reality of working for FIS was.”

Engagement surveys are now run at least annually, while pulse surveys are run at department-, team- or country-level. Results are now fed into leadership effectiveness dashboards. “In other words we’re both applying more data to HR, but also using the results to define what good leadership is,” says Naidoo.

The result

To start with Naidoo wanted to allow the new engagement survey platform to bed in. But now that two annual surveys have been completed she’s been able to collate data about staff that wasn’t there before. “We found that those people who gave us the most feedback were 35% more likely to stay with the business, revealing a statistical basis for something we suspected: engagement breeding satisfaction.”

She adds: “What this specific number gave us was the ability to go to the board and use it to develop an entirely new set of performance management processes and procedures.”

Responses are also used to tweak management training around key areas (‘culture’ is one), and analytics dashboards are now used to spot trends.

“We’ve fed results from our leadership scorecards into our LEAD high potential leadership development programme,” says Naidoo. “And even here we’ve noticed some interesting results. Far from the feedback disengaging leaders, it’s really given them renewed drive. We’re now finding those on LEAD are also much more likely to stay with FIS too.”

Overall the creation of a more data-led HR and management culture is creating real energy. “Managers are really engaged to look at their dashboard scores, and use [them] to take action,” Naidoo says. “We had well over 80% take-up from management – which is an excellent result and we see it increase with each iteration.”

She adds: “The thing with analytics is that it allows managers to get very specific, and start the process towards more digital HR. We’ve been surprised about the relationships we’ve now found, and we’ve used the data to look at, for instance, the impact merit rises have on performance and attrition.”

The team now wants to take these new-found insights further. “We want to start breaking down the key drivers behind certain trends such as attrition,” Naidoo explains.

But it’s been important to set up the new metrics-based approach first: “Further analytics will be a much longer process, and the digitalisation and engagement programmes needed to come first to allow us to do this.”

She says: “We now have about one fifth of our HR headcount using some form of HR analytics; this is a complete transformation from where we were just three or four years ago.

“We launched these initiatives globally which has given us the added advantage of being able to look at leadership trends across countries,” Naidoo says.

All-told though, she argues the biggest impact is the standing HR now has. “When we originally wanted to rebrand HR, and crowd-sourced a competition for staff to come up with our new name, suggestions included ‘the administrators’. That’s the last thing we wanted HR to be seen as,” reports Naidoo.

“We certainly feel the standing and contribution HR is able to make has been improved,” she adds. “HR have always been custodians of lots of data. The challenge has long been what to do with it. I truly believe that even though the function tends to get a bashing, there is no better time than now to be in HR. It’s the part of the business that has one of the most fundamental roles.”

This piece appeared in the July – August 2019 issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk