Last fall, the MGH launched the Know the Line Program, designed to address and prevent harassment, sexual harassment and abusive conduct – commonly known as workplace bullying. The Know the Line Program, supported by strong leadership commitment, will provide education and training, strengthened and unified policies at the MGH and other Partners affiliates, clear reporting and resolution procedures, expanded resources and support, and ongoing monitoring. A lot of work has been happening behind the scenes since the October launch, and Jovita Thomas-Williams, senior vice president of Human Resources, shares more about the program and its timeline.

MGH employees haven’t heard much about Know the Line since the program was announced in October. What is happening?

We are nearing completion the ground-laying phase of this campaign. During this time, a number of dedicated individuals from Human Resources, legal, communications and administration staff – with the help of other teams throughout the hospital – have been putting the foundation of the Know the Line Program in place, ensuring its components help us address and prevent undesirable and inappropriate workplace behavior.

During this time, we have reviewed all policies that cover these topics at the MGH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Partners HealthCare. There were 67 policies between these three affiliates, and we have narrowed them down to six. These six policies will be the same at MGH, BWH, Partners HealthCare and eventually every other Partners affiliate, taking the confusion out and adding clarity to what is acceptable and not allowed in our workplaces.

At the same time, we have been piloting our industry-leading, groundbreaking prevention and training program with a variety of employee communities across MGH. The feedback received from participants has been invaluable, and we are using it to ensure that this important training is a best practice experience for everyone.

What is the training like?

The training is called Common Ground Healthcare, and it was designed specifically for the hospital environment. It uses storytelling and interactive quizzes to educate viewers on what is acceptable and not acceptable in the workplace. This isn’t just any other training video. I think MGH employees will find these real-life scenarios engaging and educational. As the viewer, staff get to decide how the characters react to certain workplace situations. This is unlike any other training they’ve ever experienced.

Training will take about one hour and will be mandatory for all MGH employees. Those with manager/supervisor responsibilities will be asked to complete one additional hour of training.

When can employees expect to participate in the training?

We are planning a Know the Line Leadership Conference for senior leadership in March. They will be the first to complete the training. After that, it will be assigned to managers and supervisors, and eventually, all MGH employees via HealthStream.

Why focus on leadership?

Our leaders shape the work environment and the culture we experience at the MGH every day. They are the ones who set the example and encourage civility and respect among all team members. This is an incredibly important component of the Know the Line Program, and by having leaders be the first individuals trained, we set the expectation that they are responsible for championing a safe and respectable workplace for all.

When will we hear more?

You’ll hear a lot more about the Know the Line Program in the coming months. We will have a website, educational forums and other events to keep the conversation about a safe and respectable MGH workplace long after training is completed. The Know the Line Program isn’t about a one-time training – it’s a shift in culture that will happen across several months, or even years.