Even before the pandemic, CBI Health’s biggest challenge was creating a unified company culture. The largest provider of home care services in the country, the company also operates 200 physical rehabilitation clinics from coast to coast. The former’s staff are more or less isolated, while the latter work in small clinics disconnected from workers elsewhere. When the pandemic sent clinic staff home, the gap between employees widened just as healthcare professionals faced greater demands than ever, threatening to further fracture the company culture. “We needed to find a way to improve the team experience at a time when our team members were really hurting,” says CEO Jon Hantho.
By coincidence, CBI Health signed up for Microsoft Teams two weeks before the pandemic. “We didn’t do it because we thought video conferencing was the future. It was a totally lucky moment,” says Hantho. “Two weeks later, we realized that this platform was going to be the center of our universe.” Initially, CBI used Teams to stay connected with clients. But soon enough, CBI tapped into its vast internal resources—that is, its team of healthcare professionals—to create a national information-sharing platform that bridged the gap between employees like never before.
In the chaos of the early pandemic, CBI doctors and clinic managers used video calls to relay crucial safety information, like how to properly use personal protective equipment. Before long, staff from different locations began using the platform to talk to each other and form connections across Canada. “That’s when we realized we had discovered something,” says Hantho. In one case, physical and occupational therapists met virtually at company-facilitated “best practice” days to share concepts and discuss new techniques. “Having these physicians participating in this environment created relationships that we had never designed for,” says Hantho.
In addition to professionals in the field of physical rehabilitation, CBI’s workforce includes a roster of mental health professionals. That proved to be an invaluable resource when mental health was top of mind for employers across the country. “With the isolation we are all experiencing, we were really concerned about the mental health of our team members. Personally, it was difficult for me,” says Hantho. CBI’s mental health experts began conducting webinars on topics ranging from anxiety management to neural meditation. “We use a combination of live and pre-recorded interactive workshops,” says Hantho.
A snowball effect occurred. Over the past two and a half years, physicians from across the CBI staff have led dozens of workshops, all of which are recorded and archived in what is now a national library of company physical and mental health resources. Kinesiologists outline home workout plans, occupational therapists cover ergonomic techniques for desk work, and mental health professionals discuss techniques for addressing burnout.
“For the first time, we have a platform for a single team member experience. Before, our people felt that he worked for a clinic. Now, they work for an organization that gives them access to a wide variety of support and personal development resources,” says Hantho. “In the world of health care, burnout is real. This kind of infrastructure support is critical to retaining people, to make them feel valued and seen.”
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