Community Health System: Connecting harassment prevention training to daily work life

Community's mission to "serve everyone" applies to their approach for training, just as it does to providing equitable healthcare.

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    Fulfill an all–encompassing commitment to serve everyone in the community and provide a “safety net” for uninsured and underinsured people in Central California

    Find harassment prevention training that employees can put to use in their daily work life

    Implement relatable, interactive, story–based harassment prevention training


    ~9,000 employees

    More than 125 years ago, Community Health System started as a boarding house and medical facility caring for sick travelers in Central California. Today, the organization cares for more people in the region than any other health system and is centered on three pillars—hospitals, health insurance and a provider network—built on the belief that when these three entities work together, the result is a stronger health system for all.   

    Community is vital to the Central Valley’s economy, as the region’s largest healthcare network and largest private employer. The not-for-profit organization has an all-encompassing commitment to serve everyone in the community. As the area’s “safety net” provider the team cares for a large share of the uninsured and underinsured in Central California—a region considered one of America’s most challenging for healthcare—with high rates of poverty, asthma, obesity, diabetes and premature births. The healthcare system is led by a volunteer board of local leaders and physicians focused on addressing the diverse needs and issues of Central California. 

    Fittingly, Community Health System, also known as “Community,” further reinforced this commitment by going through a careful decision-making process to choose harassment prevention training that would help ensure compliance, simplify administration, make effective use of its employees’ time—and align training content to expectations for daily work behavior.  

    Effective content makes the best use of employees’ time  

    For healthcare organizations like Community, pulling staff away from their jobs for other activities can exact a heavy toll, sometimes costing more than $1 million and resulting in staff shortages. So, when it came time to choose harassment prevention training, Director of Organizational Development & Effectiveness, Joel Carter, was clear on what he wanted—highly effective training that would make the best use of the staff’s time.   

    Carter, who has extensive experience with learning programs and systems, described his priorities for harassment prevention training and why he felt that Kantola was an excellent fit for the needs of the organization.   

    True stories with real experiences—Carter emphasizes the importance of storytelling in this way, “I want real-life true stories—a testimonial of someone looking at the camera, who says this is what happened with my boss. And if that person is a nurse, even better.”   

    Backing up that assertion, research shows that storytelling is one of the most effective ways to create connections and change behavior. Personal stories can engage learners in a compelling way, evoke empathy and make learning easy and memorable. That’s a key reason why Community prioritized this type of learning as part of its ongoing training.  

    The voices featured in the interviews were very relatable. The course struck the right balance with interviews, scenes and interactive parts.


    Interactivity that makes you think—Beyond just clicking a box or answering simple questions, the team at Community wanted their training to offer ample opportunities for employee engagement through meaningful exercises and moments of self-reflection. This meant that the training exercises needed to connect to the learners at a deeper level. Carter explained his thoughts on interactivity by saying, “I want employees to think through and process responses to questions like, ‘What should I do in this situation? How should I behave?’” The prospect of achieving this kind of result through meaningful interactivity was one of the key differentiators for Community in making the decision to choose Kantola’s training.  

    Training that’s fair and relatable for everyone—Community’s mission “to better the lives of all those we serve” applies to their approach for training, just as it does to providing equitable healthcare for everyone in their community. And the idea also extends to respecting different identities and life experiences. Carter and his team know that not everyone is going to agree with everything on every issue, but they are committed to adhering to the organization’s credo which mandates that everyone should be treated with respect.   

    Carter describes how Kantola’s training fits with that perspective, “I can put this training in front of someone who is on the opposite end of the political spectrum of someone else. And they would say ‘Yeah, I understand what the training is telling me, what’s expected, and how I should behave at work.’” For Carter and his team, this approach creates direct alignment between what the employees are learning and the organization’s expectations for how employees should conduct themselves in the workplace.  

    Content with an appropriate level of seriousness—From past experiences, Carter and the team were wary of training that attempted to entertain participants through cringe-inducing content (such as jokes or cartoonish depictions of sensitive situations). Community felt that this type of training could do more harm than good—and they set the bar for quality learning at a much higher level. Carter articulated his thoughts by saying that, “Kantola’s training treated the content with a level of seriousness and tone that I think is appropriate… If you put content out there, that is just trying to entertain you as opposed to getting you to empathize with people who’ve been on the receiving end of inappropriate treatment, we are creating a problem for ourselves.”   

    Making behavior change part of daily practice   

    For Carter and his team, in order for training to be effective, it needs to be directly applicable to the daily work lives of their employees. The team saw that with Kantola’s training this could be accomplished through practical guidance, authentic stories and meaningfully interactive exercises. By taking this path, Community Health System would not only meet training requirements for harassment prevention compliance, but it would also reinforce its longstanding values of fairness and respect in a way that would connect to the everyday experiences of its employees.  

    We’re looking to bridge the gap between training content and everyday work. What our employees learn must become part of daily practice.


    Maintaining compliance, measuring effectiveness and solidifying learning   

    In addition to quality learning, Community Health System chose Kantola’s training as a way of increasing completion rates and reducing administrative burden. And they also needed to have an arrangement that was flexible enough to account for ongoing employee fluctuations.  

    With these requirements handled, Community Health System has plans for further growth. It will aim to solidify learning by looking for opportunities that complement training to remind employees of what they learned. In addition, they are making plans to measure the effectiveness of their training and other related efforts, to ensure that all employees feel that they work in an environment where they are appreciated, respected and treated fairly.