Down in a basement at a Hamilton Health Sciences hospital, a long-term employee worked in a lab just across the hall from the Medical Device Reprocessing Department.
But she had never learned about what happened behind the doors of the neighboring department until CEO Rob MacIsaac filmed a video there.
“I’ve worked here for 13 years, and before I saw that I had no idea what they did beyond those doors,” she told digital communications lead Scott Levely.
Her reaction illustrates why the video series “Teach Rob Your Job” has been popular with executives, communicators and employees alike at the seven-hospital group serving south-central Ontario.
Communications records video as the top dog learns about the daily jobs of individual specialists and others. This allows staffers find out about each others’ work and helps create dual-purpose content—in addition to being shared internally, it’s also placed on an outward-facing platform of Vimeo.
“It’s turned into a bit of a cross-hospital and cross-discipline education tool so people better understand what others in the hospital are doing,” Levely says.
The video series was born of an awareness shared by many organizations, particularly ones that have expanded or merged. Often there is a gap between execs and frontline staff members, and geographically isolated organizations especially experience that phenomenon.
Countering the ‘watered-down brand’
Hamilton Health Sciences has merged with several hospital groups over the years, Levely says, and “with that amalgamation comes a bit of a watered-down brand or a lack of identity.” Workers tend to identify with their individual hospital (“I work for Juravinski“) rather than the brand.
MacIsaac sought to counter that impression as the greater organization emphasized that all its hospitals provide the same level of care and patient experience. The videos are helping close feelings of disconnection to the greater brand, Levely says.
“It’s creating a stronger brand, that consistent experience . . . regardless of where you’re located in the city,” he says.
Hamilton Health Sciences is a significant presence in Ontario. It reportedly boasts the province’s largest hospital workforce, with more than 15,000 staff, physicians and volunteers. The group is also ranked as one of Canada’s top five research hospitals, with more than 2,000 specialists conducting research in over 1,500 centers across 86 countries worldwide, Levely says.
Hospitals are filled with inspiring stories, and MacIsaac finds them in a number of videos. One is titled, “Rob visits our tiniest patients in the NICU,” and takes the boss into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Rather than deliver a corporate message, he’s there to learn.
“This is Erin. She was born at 32 weeks, so pretty premature,” a nurse tells MacIsaac.
Each video ends with a moment of reflection from MacIsaac. In the video of the premature infants, he says the unit is “trying to, as much as possible, create those special moments that every parent wants to have with their child. I think it NICU is something we can all be really proud of at Hamilton Health Sciences.”
Another video, titled, “Rob Learns About Occupational Therapy,” offers the CEO a chance to salute the specialists who provide rehabilitation therapy for patients who use wheelchairs or are otherwise in need of care.
A culture of pride
In the OT video, MacIsaac says one big takeaway “is how extensively occupational therapists are involved in all of our patient populations from the smallest baby through to folks . . . who are at the very other end of their lives. They play such a key role here at Hamilton Health Sciences.”
Levely says the videos help build a culture of pride and heighten the perception that the chief executive is accessible. Because of the series, he can walk into any hospital and be recognized by employees.
“He likes it because it breaks down the barriers that exist between the front lines and the CEO,” he says. “People watch these videos and they feel like they know him a little bit. It’s a lot easier to approach the guy and say hi when you pass him in the hallway because you know who he is.”
There is no screening process for staffers who’d like a turn as a video star. Levely says anyone can request that MacIsaac drop by for an interview. By not hand-picking those who participate, it builds a sense of genuineness in the communications.
Says Levely, “It’s the way that we provide care to our community, and the experience our community has when they’re interacting with us.”