EXPERIENCE. WORKPLACE HEALTH MANAGEMENT is more than health promotion: Abbvie Germany has working models that orient themselves on life phases and created a flexible compensation system.
Successful companies are not only appreciated by their customers, but also by their employees – some even loved. But this only happens when man is the centre of every aspect of the company. A comprehensive workplace health management can help with reaching that goal. Who only thinks of health promotion here however thinks to short: Because the workplace health management does not only include measures like prevention and health promotion that directly make an impact on the employees’ health, but also factors like a good leadership, flexible working hours and remuneration models, motivating office equipment and good working atmosphere.
We, at the Top Employers Institute, research for 25 years what distinguishes the best employers worldwide regarding to this and other HR-measures, from Recruiting to personnel progress to leadership culture. When it comes to the elected “Top Employers” of 2016, Abbvie Germany is one of them. The researching bio-pharmaceutical company with headquarters in Wiesbaden is a good example for how to use flexible working models and new forms of the compensation package as a part of the health management and as a strategic instrument of the human resource policy. The new strategy was first worded after the separation of the former parent company Abbott 2013.
Abbvie Germany used the restart as an independent company in order to design the company philosophy according to their own ideas. And that was really necessary, because the employment market in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry is fiercely fought over. It’s a critical success factor to find qualified employees. At Abbvie Germany the management quickly agreed: We want to be even more attractive as an employer – in order to attract applicants and keep important key players on board.
The new company philosophy was expressed the most when it came to “Talent Management”, which is built up around 5 principles: Performance, behaviour, differentiation, transparency and responsibility. Behind this there was the thought that the competition for qualified employees can be won best with a combination of flexible working models and an equally flexible payment system. According to the so-called approach of “Life Navigation”, Abbvie for example enables its employees to work in a way so that they can reconcile their job with their situation the best way possible. In order to do this, flexible working models like Home Office and trust-based working hours were introduced and completed with certain offers.
Next to childcare possibilities for young families they also offer to reduce the working time in special phases of the life, for example if a care recipient needs to be looked after or if extra occupational degrees are due.
Work, when and where you want
Work, when and where you want: What initially sounds tempting is often linked to some difficulties in the start for employees who worked all their lives with long and fixed working hours in an office. Not everybody can deal with the new won freedom immediately. Some are better in integrating their daily work into their own lives, others want more distinction between job and private life. Even at Abbvie, a lot of employees were insecure first, because before that they never had to decide when to work where, if they prefer to start later or go earlier. The company however prepared well for this situation and did special trainings in which every employee could find out what kind of working type fits best to them and what working hours they reach their highest productivity levels.
In a company that partially replaces the presence culture with fixed working hours at the office with an open working culture also has to rethink the management. When the employer cannot tell anymore clearly what is actually working time and what free time, he has to rely on the self-responsibility of his employees. That’s why the goal agreement and the results of the work became more important at Abbvie Germany – instead of the time spent in the office.
Continuous Feedback on Performance
In addition to more flexibility and self-responsibility, Abbvie Germany has introduced an additional performance-related compensation in many areas as additional motivator. The process of the agreement on objectives now needs continuous feedback which promotes the dialogue between employee and leadership on the status of the agreed performance. Also shown in the process is the behaviour of an employee, which is evaluated on the basis of company-wide criteria. In contrast to annual performance evaluations that are often only snapshots, the prompt view illustrates the relationship between performance, behaviour and evaluation. It also makes leaders regularly deal with the behaviour and the performance of his or her employees and he can encourage them.
The continued feedback has a further advantage: the superior and HR can respond to private problems of employees at an early stage – because these usually also have a negative impact on job performance. If the company does not want to suffer from it, it should help their employees in difficult life phases. Abbvie Germany decided on a model in which the employers can organize their work mostly independently. The company employs employees from different generations with different interests and experiences: While young professionals want to develop themselves in the job, young employees often focus on the compatibility of work and child education. Older employees on the other hand, are often interested in passing on their knowledge as mentors.
Flexible, but complex system
With all the benefits that a personnel system, which is geared to the specific needs and abilities of the employees, brings employees and the company: The management of this system is complex. The implementation of the flexible working models was especially tough for leaders. Therefore they were trained for the new task and informed about the connection between remuneration commitment, motivation and the effects of the demographic change on the employment structure. The threads of the newly developed talent philosophy and work and compensation models now run together at HR. There the concept is coordinated with the business strategy and the standards for the benefits and special payments are agreed on.
A first success of these measures shows already: All people in the company cooperate. The management knows what is expected and the employees feel the appreciation by the management. The support of harmonizing ½ professional and private lives motivates them to put themselves out for the success of the company. Abbvie Germany sees the biggest advantage in recruiting: The broad range of working models coupled with a consistent orientation of the overall remuneration to the individual life phases of the employees contributes to the fact that young talents choose “Abbvie” when deciding on an employer.
Scoring with the remuneration system
What distinguishes future oriented companies in the field of compensations and benefits from the average shows the study “HR Insights” of the Top Employers Institute. For this, the institute evaluated the HR measures of more than 600 certified “Top Employer” companies with more than 3,000 employees in 102 countries.
Trend 1: Increasing remuneration differentiation
The differentiation of remuneration by service and by employee groups continues to increase. Larger shares of the company budget are intended for high-performers which are difficult to replace due to the labour market situation. The wage increase on the contrary is small for average employees. The performance-related remuneration also becomes more flexible. In place of the unique annual salary review and fixed bonus payments, a continuous monitoring is being used, which allows extra payments for special performances.
Trend 2: Non-monetary performances become more important
Additional employer services, such as occupational health services, an attractive occupational pension, flexible working time models and offers for work-life-balance become more and more important in the competition for qualified workers. These non-monetary services take on greater significance as a variable component of the compensation package and should communicate recognition and appreciation to the employee. One of the most popular immaterial remuneration forms are rewards for special performance at work that 85 percent of the researched companies offer. 90 percent of employers also give awards to loyal and long-term employees.
Trend 3: More room for recognition
Almost nothing motivates employees more than appreciation and the feeling of contributing something important to the success of the company. “Top Employers” therefore create more and more basic conditions so that special achievements earn the deserved recognition. These include online forums, where employees praise each other and where they can nominate team members for an award. The recognition by colleagues verifiably improves the working environment and reduces absenteeism.