Evolving RWJBH's learning curriculum & leadership capacity through centralized learning programs 

RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) is a 37,000+ employee healthcare provider network with academic centers, acute care facilities, and research hospitals within its conglomerate. 

With the growth of the $5 Billion revenue health system partly driven by mergers — and the need for leaders and employees to quickly develop the attributes needed to successfully navigate the disruption with demands placed upon them during the pandemic; as well as having skillsets that could help them meet business and healthcare user demand in a changeable future — RWJBH was looking to quickly deploy a learning approach that could unify multi-site development, align with patient-centric values, deliver in a world defined by disruption, and grow as business needs evolved.

The challenge

The in-house learning function at RWJBH is lean — with learner management, learning strategy, and learning marketing traditionally run by a resource-lite team — but still needs to serve a varied cross-section of learners across different, value-led business healthcare functions. 

However, as a networked business created via mergers, historical approaches to both foundational management development and learning journeys were not as consistent as RWJBH would have liked.

And with the advent of Covid-19, which accelerated and disrupted healthcare demand, it became clear that there was even more need for bespoke learning toolkits, to help reinforce values to all leaders and employees and give them the skills to deal with change. Furthermore, with a wide variety of working structures (remote, hybrid, in-person), development needed to be accessible for all and as employees needed it.

On top of needing to quickly deploy consistent, guided learning during the pandemic — to ensure all managers and leaders had the skills the business needed, and to support employee resiliency going into an uncertain future — there was also an appetite to create a longstanding development portal that could act as a learning institute that would one day evolve into a hub for all guided learning. All this working towards making RWJBH an employer of choice underpinned by world-class development opportunities.


The solution

RWJBH was aware of Hemsley Fraser’s partnership work with other businesses: being able to deliver, at pace, customized toolkits based on a business need and brand. After Hemsley Fraser’s proposal, the New Jersey-headquartered firm decided to choose this initial toolkit-led approach — focusing on leading and working through changing times, while working in a high-reliability culture — aware that Hemsley Fraser could provide a breadth and depth of resources, deliver this quickly, and customize and evolve the learning as needed. Perfect for deployment during the pandemic.

Building on this approach, the next step was to create a development program that could advance leader and employee development for the long term. This would make the offering across all sites consistent by the creation of a standardized course catalog which opened learning opportunities, making virtual courses accessible to everyone across the organization, enrolling thousands of learners. The program content built with internal subject matter expert content, Hemsley Fraser content and delivered by both. 

As the program continued to evolve, the expansion led to the creation of a new manager-learning journey development program, relying on a hybrid approach, the first time RWJBH had implemented something like this system-wide.

All underpinned by a partnership approach, whereby Hemsley Fraser could also deliver extra resources, course marketing, and learning analytics, the in-house team has been freed up for strategizing, pivoting, and changing learning at speed, with support along the way.

This approach also laid the groundwork for a planned move for a full hub approach: whereby all learning could be accessible in one place, and learners could access courses and playlisted content dependent as they needed.



RWJBH has noted that the partnership approach, reliant on Hemsley Fraser’s flexibility, expertise, and customer focus, has allowed them to free up in-house learning function time for big-picture scenario planning and adapt to new challenges and learner needs. 

Deployment of Hemsley Fraser solutions has also allowed RWJBH to better manage learning needs, allowing them to deploy learning based on registering interest in specific courses. Course satisfaction rates are always above 95%, with learners engaged with learning deployed within the business and the business able to better measure and track engagement.

The learner portal has allowed for improved learning engagement, with Hemsley Fraser now helping to improve capacity and expertise in this area. Learner attendance has been consistent between registering interest and engagement in learning.

What is more, employee engagement surveys have revealed that more of RWJBH’s workforce believes that the organization is invested in their development, and it has been noted that learning has benefited wellbeing, retention, and the DEI&B agenda as well as delivering cost efficiency.

And, due to the flexibility, customer focus, and appetite for growth of both parties in the partnership, foundations exist to create more holistic learning outcomes for the future, with the desire to move towards integration of the curated hub approach, a learning experience solution that leverages playlists and blended content, tailored to the organization making learning content easily accessible to all staff.

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