Training APEX Awards Best Practice: WellSpan Health’s Leadership Forums

Aiming to help leaders cascade organizational strategies and vision throughout the health system, WellSpan reimagined its Leadership Forums from a one-day in-person event to three virtual live sessions with “chunked” content.

WellSpan Health’s Leadership Forums aim to help leaders learn the strategies and vision of the organization so they can bring them back to their business units/departments or service lines, share key messages with staff, and make leadership decisions that support the integrated health system that serves the communities of central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The forums support WellSpan’s goal to foster diverse and engaged individuals and teams inspired and supported to do their best every day.

Program Details

Traditionally, WellSpan’s Leadership Forums were held as in-person one-day events with multiple topics discussed during the course of the day. Due to COVID-19, in-person events were no longer possible. In response, WellSpan reimagined the forums by “chunking” the content into 60- to 90-minute virtually delivered live sessions. Each session was connected to an overarching theme to help achieve consistency for the entire three-session virtual event with opportunities for leader participation via virtual breakout rooms. The themes included:

  • Leading with Value
  • Looking Forward: The Year Ahead
  • Culture: It Starts with US

Sessions were facilitated by WellSpan senior leadership with additional leader involvement and securely live-streamed to WellSpan leaders system-wide. Each leadership member developed an interactive presentation in their respective area, including Human Resources, Strategy, Medical, and Diversity and Inclusion.

To reinforce and cascade the information shared via the virtual Leadership Forums, leaders shared content with their staff via one-on-one leader rounding and team meetings. WellSpan leveraged the My LeadWell leader portal on its intranet to provide real-time communication and supporting communication documents for use in one-on-one leader rounding and team meetings. Videos of the various live-stream sessions were also available for those leaders who missed a particular session and to use as a review. Additionally, leaders leveraged those videos during their team meetings to supplement their discussion about the forum messages and takeaways.

WellSpan’s CEO sent follow-up e-mails to leaders reminding them to share forum messages and leader takeaways with their team members. Execution of the Leadership Forums, coupled with a post-forum Leader Discussion Toolkit and Employee Newsletter edition, helped WellSpan execute a comprehensive communication strategy that inspires and connects staff members to the key aspects of change, including the organization’s vision, mission, values, transformation, and Diversity/Inclusion.


Virtual delivery enabled WellSpan to increase leader participation from 737 attendees at the previous in-person event to 1,287 participants (an all-time high) in the virtual forums; the cost per person decreased 81 percent.

The shorter, multi-day format was positively received, with an average evaluation of 4.33 on a 5.0-point scale. Overall satisfaction with the virtual approach to the forum was 4.02 out of 5.0.

Results for the quarterly employee pulse statement, “Employee sees the meaning/purpose in the work they do,” exceeded the U.S. benchmark of 79 with a score of 85 in 2020.

Results for the employee quarterly pulse survey statement, “WellSpan continuously improves the way work is done,” met the organizations goal with a score of 65 percent.

Edited by Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine, owned by Lakewood Media Group. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.