How one CEO attracts, retains a younger workforce

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Open Systems Healthcare employees present at a Penn State University Career Fair.

Mark Fiato, CEO of Open Systems Healthcare, routinely sends his employees surveys to solicit feedback about working at the company. He responds to what he hears, and is particularly in tune with the priorities of his largely millennial workforce.

“I’m a big proponent of understanding what our people are thinking continuously, and I want to hear that directly from them and not through a filter,” Fiato said.

His philosophy has resonated with Open Systems’ employees, which is why the Philadelphia-based company won both the No. 1 large company spot and also the “leadership” special award in this year’s Top Workplaces, a ranking based on employee surveys.

Under Fiato’s helm, the home-care firm is now supplying employees with Fitbits in order to foster health and wellness in its workforce.

Fiato said he is also looking to address the concerns raised in his most recent survey, which found that employees weren’t happy with their workspaces.

“Now we’re going through the process of looking at things like standing work stations,” Fiato said.

The average age of Open Systems’ workforce is 27, and Fiato is keenly focused on attracting and retaining young, vibrant employees. To do that, he said he recognizes that demographic’s main priority is to strike a healthy balance between work and life.  

The company gives employees the ability to earn more paid time off, to have greater flexibility in their schedules and to enjoy summer hours.

Employees describe Fiato as dynamic, relatable, approachable and interested in all aspects of the business, big and small. The CEO isn’t just giving lip service to staff when he says he has an open-door policy, they said.

“If you have an idea that you think can improve a process, you don’t have to go through hoops to voice that,” said Stephanie Falcone, a regional account executive. “He creates an environment where our employees feel empowered to improve our business, which goes a lot further than most people would think.”

That management approach seems to be working at Open Systems. Its number of employees in the greater Philadelphia area has zoomed to 755 in two years, up from 310. It also saw two-year average revenue growth of 187 percent.

The corporate culture may also help keep Open Systems’ employee retention rate high, which the company’s director of marketing and corporate development, Kaitlin Woznicki, said isn’t typical for the home healthcare industry.

Erin Brown, a human resources generalist at Open Systems, said that there’s “an overall very positive vibe throughout the company.”

She described Fiato as “not a CEO that’s only concerned with the bottom line of the business,” adding that he makes “a concentrated effort to relate to employees.”

Falcone and Brown both were attracted by, and benefited from, Open Systems’ policy of promoting from within. They joined the company at entry-level posts and moved up the corporate ranks. 

The company’s hiring mission is to recruit “PRIME” people, those with Personality, Resourcefulness, Intelligence, Motivation and Energy.

Open Systems employs a sales staff and human resource workers in its different regional branches, as well as employing nurses, home-care aides and other caregivers who work directly with consumers.

Compensation in the company’s regional offices is based on the team’s performance, not that of an individual, which is meant to hold everyone accountable.

That approach also helps foster an esprit de corps in what is a difficult industry with a lot of stress and demands. For example, the local branches must have someone on-call 24/7, never sending anyone to an answering service.

Fiato is aware that home healthcare poses special challenges for his employees. So when Open Systems held a two-day sales meeting in January in Reading, he decided to shake it up a bit. The focus was less on revenue goals and more on training for crisis management, like how to handle an instance when an aide doesn’t show up for work, he said.

Fiato’s three-pronged approach to employees is simple: “You provide an opportunity, you pay them well and then the last part is, you respect them.”