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The Problem

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 firm also runs 200 physical rehabilitation clinics coast to coast. Staff at the former are more or less siloed, while the latter work in small clinic settings disconnected from workers at other locations. When the pandemic sent clinic staff home, the gulf between employees widened just as health care professionals faced greater demands than ever before, threatening to further fracture the company’s 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.

The Solution

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 pure fortunate timing,” says Hantho. “Two weeks later, we realized this platform was going to be the centre of our universe.” Initially, CBI used Teams to stay connected with clients. But soon enough, CBI harnessed its vast internal resources – that is, its team of health care professionals – to create a national information-sharing platform that bridged distances between employees like never before.

In the chaos of the early pandemic, CBI’s clinicians and clinic managers used video calls to broadcast crucial safety information, like how to correctly use personal protective equipment. Before long, staff across different locations started using the platform to talk to each another and form cross-Canada connections. “That’s when we realized we were onto something,” says Hantho. In one instance, physiotherapists and occupational therapists gathered virtually in company-facilitated “best practice” days to share concepts and discuss new techniques. “Having these clinicians participate in this environment created relationships we had never designed for,” says Hantho.

Besides professionals in the physical rehabilitation realm, CBI’s workforce includes a roster of mental health professionals. That turned out to be an invaluable resource when mental health was top of mind for employers across the country. “With the isolation we all experienced, we were really worried about the mental health of our team members. It was hard on me personally,” says Hantho. CBI’s mental health experts started running online seminars on subjects from anxiety management to neural meditation. “We used a mix of pre-recorded and live interactive workshops,” says Hantho.

A snowball effect ensued. Over the past two and a half years, clinicians from across CBI’s workforce have led dozens of workshops, all of which are recorded and filed into what’s now a national company library of 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 tackling burnout.

“For the first time ever, we have a platform for a single team member experience. Before, our people felt that they worked for a clinic. Now, they work for an organization that gives them access to a rich palette of personal development and support resources,” says Hantho. “In the world of health care, burnout is real. This type of infrastructure support is critical to retaining people – to making them feel valued and seen.”

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