In our Partner Spotlight series, we introduce you to some of our wonderful partners, who share our vision and passion for helping organizations become more data-driven. This week, we’re excited to talk to Stela Lupushor, Founder of Reframe.Work, about HR’s biggest opportunities around D&I, the uncertainty of the health crisis, and more.
How did you get to this point in your career?
After a 20+ year-long traditional career, I decided to lean into the future of work that I was so passionately talking about and working on while leading HR strategy and people analytics functions at some Fortune 100 organizations. I am a geek by training (math and computer science), consultant at heart (Price Waterhouse, PwC, IBM), entrepreneur in character (loved working on “white space” type projects), on a mission to humanize the workplace (having worked in HR for a while and noticing how much more “human” would be welcome in “Human Resources”).
What are you working on these days?
Since early 2017, I have been accomplishing my mission to humanize HR through several streams of work:
- At the macro level, across-industries: I work with the Conference Board’s Fortune 500 corporations-members and help them rethink their workplace and workforce strategies through research and facilitated conversations so they can prepare for what’s ahead. I lead the Strategic Workforce Planning and Talent Management Executives Councils.
- With organizational leadership: I lead Reframe.Work Inc. and consult on how to create inclusive workplaces through the use of technology, human-centered design, people analytics, and future-thinking.
- At the individual level: I founded amazing.community–a nonprofit expanding the work horizon for women 45+. Our sweet spot is age + gender + technology, and our solutions are focused on helping women prepare for the workplace of the future, and for organizations to create inclusive work environments for them.
- At the professional development level: I am an adjunct at NYU School of Professional Studies teaching Digital Workplace Design. It is my way of influencing the future generations of HR professionals to use technology and human-centric and inclusive design thinking principles to create a great workplace experience.
- At the network level: I am the co-founder of the Strategic HR Analytics Meet-up that over the past six years is bringing together almost 2000 members in the NYC area to shape their thinking around people analytics and its impact on the workplace.
What are the challenges and opportunities you see HR facing during and post-pandemic?
I would characterize the challenges and opportunities into a framework–the 4Ds–that can be used to group the disruptions impacting the world of work. These disruptions have been accelerated by the pandemic and creates space for HR to innovate:
Demographic shifts that include a multi-generational workforce; growth in global/local/social/job mobility; more women entering the workforce, diversity in gender, sexual orientation/identity, backgrounds, and thoughts.
This requires HR rethinking:
- How the work is defined and orchestrated
- How the workforce is equipped to thrive
- What changes to the physical and digital workplace are needed to ensure a safe, inclusive, productive, and innovative workplace that embraces diversity of thoughts and backgrounds, and creates products and offerings that are accessible to everyone
More importantly, organizations are forced to rethink the sources and location of talent in light of changing preferences of the modern workforce, and mass adoption of distributed work.
Digitization including intelligent automation, virtual/augmented/mixed reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. “Digital” forces organizations to rethink their business model, decision making, and communications flows. It requires a very different mindset on how work gets designed such that it is more fluid and less constrained by the traditional (manufacturing) style of producing work-units. HR has to be in the middle of this work, especially to ensure the right questions about ethics, bias, and impact on human wellbeing is addressed when the decisions about adopting digital technologies are made.
Datafication of the interaction between and across humans, devices, sensors, bots, tools, etc. The massive amounts of data allow us to see patterns, glean insights, and find the optimal solution. It also requires different skillsets and degree of sophistication in designing analytics-driven organizations. We’ve been on the analytics journey in HR for some time and there is a lot more mature and sophisticated thinking in this space.
“After a 20+ year-long traditional career, I decided to lean into the future of work that I was so passionately talking about and working on while leading HR strategy and people analytics functions at some Fortune 100 organizations.”
Disintermediation, capturing the rise of independents, the gig economy, collaborative consumption, networked work, 3D printing, blockchain, cross-value chain companies, etc. Many technology-first organizations are rapidly disrupting the neatly organized adjacent industries. This doesn’t only change your product strategy but also the competitive landscape you have to consider. HR can be the catalyst of the transformation of the end-to-end experience of workers and orchestrating the workflow across all types of intermediaries involved in the value creation.
What are some challenges you see with people analytics and why should organizations focus on overcoming these?
I think there is a misconception that to get started with people analytics, you need big investments in technology, in upskilling the entire HR organization, in bringing top-notch talent with a deep data science background etc. To get started you need something much simpler: the business question you want to answer.
Once you have a good understanding of the question, you can back into the data needed to answer that question; then, you can move on to telling a story with the data.
The other misconception is the belief that people analytics is for HR only. There are many other groups and departments that can benefit from people analytics (and also help HR gain the necessary investments and support for building out these capabilities). Those capabilities can now be used and structured in a way that helps identify changes and decisions that will impact workplace experience outcomes. Here are a few examples:
Support of workspace planning and design. People analytics can help forecast workforce size, composition, and needs for the future as well as analyze the trends impacting workforce behaviors (a preference to work remotely or on a specific schedule to incorporate family activities). It can include projections for physical space planning, allocation, and configuration to maximize productivity, increase collaboration, or whatever other outcome was in focus.
“I would characterize the challenges and opportunities into a framework–the 4Ds–that can be used to group the disruptions impacting the world of work.”
Automation, integration, and employee experience. I recently heard a quote that automation and AI is removing the robot out of the human. So true! It’s time to bring human-centered design to the workplace and pair it with technology to automate routine, boring, mundane tasks. Leave the engaging, creative, stimulating tasks to the humans! Imagine how much productivity your employees can gain by integrating all their tools, so they don’t have to remember seven passwords that expire frequently or re-enter things multiple times. People analytics can help you track the impact of such changes.
Continuous listening. Through actively and passively gathering and analyzing data from people’s online chatter on both internal and external social channels, people analytics can help you to understand the perception and sentiment of the workforce, the areas or processes that are creating frustrations or impeding employees’ ability to perform, and deliver insights about which specific efforts to focus on. Ultimately, this process will create an environment where people feel they are heard, where organizational silos work together and are committed to creating a better experience to unleash creativity, productivity, and create a great employment value proposition, and organizational brand.
What superpower will HR gain from working with Reframe.Work and Visier?
Evidence-driven universal design of workplace experience. Let me explain:
Workplace Experience is the cumulative experiences workers have with an organization before, during, and after their employment journey, designed to maximize organizational and individual success.
Universal design enables HR to create a superior and inclusive experience for all the workers and as a result differentiating its brand from many other employers. More importantly, it unleashes the creativity and talents of its workforce. MIT research shows that enterprises with a top-quartile employee experience achieve twice the innovation, double the customer satisfaction, and 25% higher profits.
Evidence-driven is all about analytics. At the end of the day, no transformation or change will be sustainable and embraced unless it has an impact on business outcomes. These outcomes can be financial or customer-related or focused on the employment brand, on the workplace experience, or on HR program outcomes. By linking the impact of workplace experience actions taken to those outcomes, you can develop insights and identify the interventions that will have the most positive impact.
For example, understanding that having three managers in one year is correlated with higher attrition, resulting in a significant cost to replace an individual, and in turn, a decrease in customer satisfaction, could help HR to articulate a great business case for creating a program to increase effective management transition and team stability.
Our partnership with Visier is the combination of these three elements. Together, we provide the strategy, process, and platform to integrate data along the worker journeys and touchpoints, and associated experience measurements that can be linked to business, customer, and external brand outcomes to demonstrate the impact of great workplace experience.
Why should today’s CHRO be an expert in human-centered design and workplace experience?
Today, we do so many things–purchasing decisions, buying, consuming news and entertainment, communicating and sharing–completely differently. There are two key drivers of this change: availability of digital technologies and designing around the human experience. We are at the inception of a similar transformation in the workplace. Oftentimes, however, many technologies are not designed with input from and consideration of the impact they will have on different segments of the population, especially the aging or disabled. HR has a great chance to influence the thinking here.
“Together, we provide the strategy, process, and platform to integrate data along the worker journeys and touchpoints, and associated experience measurements that can be linked to business, customer, and external brand outcomes to demonstrate the impact of great workplace experience.”
What are some ways companies can take meaningful action not just on diversity, but inclusion?
Think about how designing walkways to be wheelchair accessible enabled moms with strollers to use them. Similarly, using workplace tools such as video conferencing, file sharing, and team collaboration will not only enable a distributed team to work better together, but also provide someone with a physical disability, who can’t come into an office, to be gainfully employed.
Digitization of the workplace will increase our productivity, minimize the hassle points for us, and create a greater sense of pride amongst the employees—leading to better engagement, retention, and business results.
Additionally, we are in the middle of a wave of growing pressure on corporations to focus on and be accountable to communities for their social responsibility objectives, in addition to traditional profit maximization. HR can and should take a proactive role in identifying avenues to contribute to the CSR goals through HR specific initiatives. These can include creating employment for untapped segments, contributing volunteering hours to benefit the environment or to teach at schools in underserved communities, investing in workforce development, and addressing pay parity.
Tying your organizational mission to a bigger purpose and impact not only creates goodwill with your workforce, but new opportunities, offerings, and distribution channels for the business.
What brings you joy these days?
Advocating for women. There has been a tremendous amount of progress made to enable women to stay active in the workforce, but we still have a long way to go to ensure they are rewarded equitably and have equal access to opportunities. There is even more work to do to eliminate the ageism that women encounter more acutely than sexism, which is why I’m so excited by our work at the amazing.community.