“Our employees are our greatest asset.”
When Ruth Siegfried—InVision’s founder and president—spoke these words, they became more than just a simple phrase. To Patty Scotti—InVision’s director of human resources—they’re her guiding philosophy.
InVision is an organization built on the dedication, strength, and compassion of our staff who always go above and beyond to provide the best support possible to the people we serve. When Patty assumed her role in late 2021, she focused on recommitting the Human Resources department—and the organization as a whole—to our mission and vision of helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by honoring InVision’s history while aligning with its future goals. Remaining connected to staff, and listening to their concerns and viewpoints, is critical for maintaining a consistent workforce committed to accomplishing our mission, Patty said.
Backdropped by a rapidly shifting pandemic—and post-pandemic—environment, Patty’s vision of a renewed workforce continues to take shape. The pandemic may have complicated an already fraught human services industry, but InVision emerged—perhaps unsurprisingly—somewhat unscathed; a phenomenon Patty chalks up to the exceptionally focused and committed DSPs we have at InVision.
“The dedication of our staff for those we support [throughout the Covid-19 pandemic] has been amazing and humbling,” Patty said.
Acknowledging and rewarding DSPs for their hard work and perseverance in difficult times became Patty’s immediate priority coming out of the pandemic. InVision may be known for its pursuit of the most visionary solutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Pennsylvania, but her clear vision for the future sees our staff as another recipient of our innovative strategies.
InVision leadership has long known that strong DSPs lead to strong outcomes for the people we support. As we continue to evolve as an organization, initiatives designed to improve staff experiences and empower them to pursue professional development opportunities will remain at the forefront of InVision’s strategic vision.
Recognizing Our Workforce
Among the top-most priorities for Patty and the entire leadership team at InVision is to discover and implement ways to increase DSP wages.
For several decades, the human services industry has remained critically underfunded. In Pennsylvania, DSP wages are specifically funded via the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) by way of the Commonwealth’s budget. Without support for the DSPs who are essential for community-based services to operate, organizations like InVision are unable to pay the wages DSPs deserve.
The lack of investment in our industry has created more than just a workforce crisis; it threatens to upend the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who rely on DSPs’ care. Many DSPs are forced out of the industry by low wages and rising costs, oftentimes unwillingly abandoning the people they know desperately need their support.
It’s dire moments like these where radical change is no longer a risk, but an obligation. Patty and her team explored every available avenue to alleviate as much burden as possible from our DSPs, working with senior leadership to implement the largest wage increase for DSPs in InVision’s history.
“Our goal through [the Covid-19 pandemic] has been to recognize and acknowledge [the focus and commitment of InVision staff],” Patty said.
Organizations like InVision simply cannot exist or thrive without the DSPs who support the people we serve. Providing them with the compensation they deserve remains a top organizational and advocacy priority, especially after the outcome of Pennsylvania’s most recent budget agreement.
Patty also remarked on the “consultative, operational, and collaborative” nature of human resources by linking various other departments’ initiatives that are directly tied to HR’s priorities. InVision Learning Academy—a division of InVision Learning & Development—for example, was implemented to provide DSPs with professional development and credentialing opportunities
to not only improve the quality of the services they provide, but also create more concrete pathways forward in an often-misunderstood profession.
These partnerships enable Patty and her team to maintain a pulse on staff so that they can improve their responses to inquiry and concerns while also utilizing feedback to improve HR’s strategic direction and outcomes.
Modernizing Recruitment Models
Organizations like InVision struggle to recruit and retain qualified DSPs. Systemically low wages naturally impact this—contributing to one of the highest industry turnover rates in the nation—but an amalgamation of factors each play a role.
One such factor—namely workforce priorities—has changed as a result of the Covid-19, and businesses looking to attract quality talent needed to rethink their recruitment practices to keep up with an evolving labor landscape. InVision was no different.
For Patty, adjusting InVision’s HR strategies for DSP recruitment and retention was a key priority when she became director of human resources.
InVision is in the midst of a period of tremendous growth, and we continue to expand our services and create greater impacts on our communities. Employing highly qualified DSPs and equipping them with the tools and resources they and the people we support need to succeed were simultaneously catalysts and outcomes of that growth. As momentum builds around the “Equal Pay for Equal Work” initiative, Patty and the entire HR team took the initiative to fast-track an overhaul of HR’s current recruitment methods, hiring practices, and onboarding processes to keep pace with workforce expectations and also as a demonstration of support for our DSPs.
“We are constantly evaluating our employee activity,” Patty said. “Recruiting is a constant focus, and the team evaluates what actions … bring candidate traffic to our organization. [W]e continue to be challenged to think differently with recruiting and navigating the staffing crisis.”
Among the many changes to the HR department’s procedures included implementing a virtual recruiting and interviewing into HR’s existing hiring structure; working with InVision leadership to ensure qualified candidates are hired within 24 hours of an interview; providing new internal and external incentives throughout the hiring process; and partnering with InVision’s marketing team to drive our branding across our social media channels and attract diverse talent.
These actions—coupled with the wage increase—have achieved positive results for InVision’s overall efforts to improve employee outcomes and end the staffing crisis. Among the most critical of successes was a reduction in DSP resignations.
Connecting as an Organization
While DSPs were not among the millions of workers across the nation who began teleworking during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, InVision administrative staff was nonetheless impacted by government mandates and other restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. Minimizing that impact on both groups has been a constant focus for Patty and the HR department.
“Since the beginning of [the Covid-19 pandemic], [InVision Human Resources] had to take decisive action across the organization to ensure we continue to care for the people we support,” Patty said. “We had to adjust to ensure our employees were not impacted.”
Beyond the day-to-day needs of DSPs who continued to work with the people we support in their homes, HR also faced challenging scenarios that required the entire department to think differently about the ways they function and connect with InVision’s workforce.
“Even in hybrid and remote work environments, [InVision] need[s] to maintain our connection as an organization,” Patty added.
Patty’s “Roles and Responsibilities” initiative evolved into a strategic goal designed to create a comprehensive outline of each role at InVision up to the director level. Employees were tasked with providing their perspective on their job functions to ensure they are accurate with existing job descriptions and align with InVision’s vision and philosophy.
“The input of our workforce is valuable, and it’s a part of the data that drives change,” Patty said.
Better utilizing employee feedback like this is a key component of Patty’s overall plan to build stronger relationships between HR and all levels of the organization. The recent Employee Satisfaction Survey—which was not administered by HR—for example, proved to be an excellent resource for HR to explore how the department can better engage with staff and improve their experiences at InVision.
“The insights [InVision Human Resources] gained from [the Employee Satisfaction Survey] help identify what is working and where we have opportunities to improve,” Patty said.
Patty and her team continue to work with InVision leadership to define strategic goals that will build a stronger InVision and provide increasing opportunities for the people we support to discover new ways to achieve their life visions. Continually evaluating all aspects of InVision’s Human Resources structure will remain a priority moving forward.
“[InVision] employees are [Human Resources’] customer[s] and partner[s],” Patty said. “Ensuring we maintain [this] perspective is all we do matters to [the Human Resources department].”