Maximizing the Value of Human Capital in a Growing Company

Why it’s Time to Focus on People Management vs. just “HR”

When you think of Human Resources, what comes to mind?  Open enrollment?  Payroll?  Maybe, employee relations?  Those are all true; HR does manage many employee-related functions and can be quite transactional. But, when you look at truly prosperous, high-performing organizations, you see that the driver behind their success is effective and thoughtful people management.  In other words, these companies view their talent as their most important resource and they take a very strategic and business-focused view of their human resources function.

Reflexion Health understands the value of their employee population and recently hired Brett Pugliesi, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, sHRBP, as their Head of People Operations to develop a world-class HR function that enables the company’s accelerated growth. To learn more about Reflexion Health’s approach to people management, here’s an excerpt from our conversation with Brett:

Brett Pugliesi, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, sHRBP, and Head of People Operations at Reflexion Health

Brett Pugliesi, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, sHRBP, and Head of People Operations at Reflexion Health

Brett, why did you join Reflexion Health?

With a blend of technology and healthcare experience, combined with a passion for working at companies who put patients first, I was thrilled when I found the Reflexion Health human resources opportunity.  I knew I could leverage my larger company experience in order to strengthen the HR processes they had in place while building out new capabilities to support their current and future growth.  I also loved Reflexion Health’s downtown San Diego location and collaborative work environment.

Why do you use the term “People Operations Management” vs. HR?

I find the term HR to be a bit dated.  People are our biggest asset and I also want to ensure that this function is business-focused vs. just transactional.  I think this is extremely important in order for us to remain competitive as well as continue to attract and retain the best candidates.

For example, I consider myself to be a business partner.  I apply my understanding of our business challenges and opportunities to ensure the leaders I work with are hiring appropriately as well as managing the team members they have in place.  I know we won’t achieve our business goals without optimizing our talent’s potential.

In addition, I focus my efforts on where I can bring the most value.  Because of this, I’m doing everything I can to make transactional activities, like open enrollment and payroll, be self-administered. It’s a convenience ‘win’ for employees as well.  By automating these important, but sometimes monotonous, processes, I can spend more time coaching and motivating or developing a more engaging onboarding process. These are activities that definitely drive more business value than me updating direct deposit info!

What are you doing at Reflexion Health to build a word-class people operations function?

The number one thing I do is to get to know our people; at all levels. I think it’s important to understand who is doing what and their organizational structure in order to maximize talent. I also believe this makes HR, or People Operations, a bit friendlier as I know some employees view this function as a ‘rules enforcer.’  I want employees to feel comfortable talking with me early on – especially before small issues become big problems. 

A more concrete example of building a world-class people operations function is the work I do to ensure each employee’s annual goals are tied to our overall company goals.  While I’m not a huge fan of formal, complicated performance management systems, I do believe communication is key and I encourage ongoing conversations between managers and their employees regarding performance.  And, these conversations start with each employee’s goals.  So, it’s imperative that they are aligned with what our company needs to achieve early on in the year. 

As a result, I meet with each team leader, review the team’s goals and make suggestions to drive further alignment with our business strategy.  Sometimes it’s as simple as recommending a development opportunity, in other instances, it opens the door to the potential of hiring a new employee with a different skillset.

What are the biggest challenges you are facing?

There are a few but I tend to take a glass half-full approach and view them as opportunities.  First, we are implementing a new HRIS system and I’m very excited about all the new data the system will provide, especially in regards to recruiting.  From applicant tracking to onboarding to org chart development, this new system will automate many things I’ve spent way too much time on in the past.  But, I am a bit nervous about all the new data coming my way and my ability to make the most of it without getting lost in the numbers!

With our company’s rapid growth, it is important to retain many of our start-up cultural elements that have helped make us the success we are today in combination with instituting new processes and policies that are required due to our size. To assist with this balance, we are introducing a culture team to continue coordinating fun activities throughout the year which include some of our most popular events like baseball game afternoons, family picnics and happy hours that our employees have told us that they appreciate.

And while we recognize having fun is important and has its place, we also pay close attention to talent management in order to build on and maintain a high-performing culture. This process starts from the recruiting phase. We look for candidates that will not only add value to our company with their performance, but also individuals who will positively benefit our culture.

When you’re not at Reflexion Health, what do you do for fun?

One the great benefits we highlight at Reflexion Health is our generous PTO package and I try to be a strong work/life balance role model.  I love to ski during the winter but my passion is cycling.  I can easily get on my bike for 100 miles or more.  It’s great practice for me as I’m a triathlete, but it’s such an amazing mind escape and a fantastic way to set goals.  When I’m not out and about, you can find me hanging out with my adorable 2-year old English-cream golden retriever Leila or my husband Danny at the beach.

Any last words Brett?

Whether you call it people operations or HR, I encourage you to partner with us early on.  Not only are we employee advocates, but we also understand the nitty gritty details of employment law and we can help you make an even stronger, more informed decision. 


Thanks Brett! To learn more about Reflexion Health, including current career opportunities, please visit: http://reflexionhealth.com/careers.