Advocacy by Association

Steven Rotman knows that making a difference starts with one thing: the right employees. Here’s how the VP of human resources is enhancing business by enabling people.

Steven Rotman, VP of Human Resources, NaviNet, Inc.
Steven Rotman, VP of Human Resources, NaviNet, Inc.

Growing up, Steven Rotman always thought he’d be a high school social-studies teacher. At college, though, while double-majoring in political science and interpersonal communication, he took a human resources class on a whim, and it instantly felt right. He then went on to work in HR for several years, eventually earning a master’s degree from Suffolk University.

“The ability to impact employees by giving them the tools to be successful and putting a human face on the business is the passion that drives my career,” Rotman says. “If people are engaged and rewarded, then the business has a much greater chance of being successful.”

When he first joined NaviNet, Inc. (formerly Navimedix), the nation’s largest healthcare communications platform, his role was mostly tactical—managing benefits and payroll and serving as a resource to more than 300 employees. Over the next few years, his role transformed into that of HR director, and his responsibilities continued to expand. Today Rotman serves as the vice president of human resources at NaviNet. “This occurred as our new CEO came into the organization, and it was clear that he viewed human resources as a critical business partner at the top of the organization,” he says.

“We need to ensure people understand our industry, are the top talent in their area of expertise, and are passionate about putting those skills to use.”

In his position, Rotman has been able to work collaboratively with stakeholders across the business and strives to create an honest, open, and transparent environment. “This is what employees respond to,” he says. Creating that environment includes monthly town-hall meetings, cross-departmental training opportunities, and an open-door policy in the management team. In the spirit of transparency, the company  also shares financials, sales pipelines, and organizational changes on a company-wide level to keep people informed.

“We employ the best, brightest, and most in-demand people,” Rotman says. “They don’t work here for the Ping-Pong tables, pizza Fridays, or chair massages—though they love all of them; they work here because they feel that they are recognized, given a chance to stretch their intellectual muscles, and contribute in a space—healthcare IT—where everyone can feel the impact.”

For Rotman, the dual concept of “business enablement and people enablement” is the key to success in HR. The business can only be as successful as its people, he says, so it is the business’s job to ensure its people are informed, aligned, capable, and excited.

“Human resources is key in this,” Rotman says. “We tend to drive communication, foster collaboration, and make sure the information going out is digestible to a wide audience.” In a rapidly changing market, he adds, such as NaviNet’s innovative healthcare IT domain, it is key that staff are trained on industry regulations, changes in legislation, and the changing landscape of healthcare in America. “As we’ve seen rapid movement in recent years via the Affordable Care Act and the move to value-based care, information is outdated almost as soon as it is published, and we must stay ahead of that curve. We need to ensure people understand our industry, are the top talent in their area of expertise, and are passionate about putting those skills to use for the betterment of our platform.”

Rotman works to build an employment brand while harnessing company culture. In an effort to grow NaviNet’s internal brand—centered on transparency, people development, and continuous improvement—Rotman has found that authenticity is vital. “We aren’t creating marketing for candidates; we are creating a product that we proudly display,” he says. “We have had tremendous success partnering with employees who are showcasing the culture at NaviNet via social media.  They aren’t doing it because they have to, but because they are proud of what we have created together, and are happy to let their personal and professional networks take a peek inside.”

The results speak for themselves. In 2013, an employee nominated NaviNet for the Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work award for the first time, and the company was showcased in both 2013 and 2014 solely based on surveys by NaviNet’s employees. The company was also featured in Becker’s Hospital Review’s list of 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare in 2014 and 2015—all because of employee nominations—and its Glassdoor and LinkedIn traffic picked up significantly. NaviNet was also recently named a Top 50 US-Ireland Business, with large thanks to the dedication of staff on both sides of the pond. “It all happened organically,” Rotman says. “To illustrate, NaviNet had 310 Glassdoor.com views in June 2012; in March 2015, we had 6,488 views. We didn’t pay for advertisements. We simply worked to continuously create an environment people could be proud of and let employees know that we are all partners in the journey.”

Undoubtedly, the efforts of enhancing company culture while building an employment brand has had a positive impact on NaviNet in areas like recruitment. Not only has its recruiting spend decreased dramatically, but the caliber of candidates coming in has increased substantially.

“A number of people have turned down higher-paying jobs with more nationally prestigious organizations to become part of the NaviNet community,” Rotman says. “They see the real possibility of advancement professionally as well as the impact on healthcare in the United States. It is appealing for people to come to a place where they feel they will be respected, valued, and can have some fun as well.”

And for Rotman, creating that difference is what makes the biggest difference of all.