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Customer Case Study

GSKis a research-based pharmaceutical company whose mission is to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. The business employs over 100,000 people across 117 countries, and provides one quarter of the world's vaccines.

I was told our resilience programme wouldn’t work worldwide but it is currently online in 13 languages with the methodology running in cultures as diverse as South America, the Middle East and Japan. This approach really does work. Sue Cruse, Director, Leadership, Health & Sustainability

A resilient workforce

Sue Cruse, Director of Leadership, Health and Sustainability at GlaxoSmithKline, talks to Connection.

Ceridian Connection chats to GlaxoSmithKline

Connection: What were the key drivers for GSK’s resilience programmes?

GSK: The key drivers are twofold: the first and possibly the most important is to recognise the key role health, wellness and energy play in individual performance. These components play a key role in life performance which includes performance at work.
The second driver is compliance to both internal and external standards. Externally, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publish standards for the workplace in the UK, which GSK adhere to. 
External standards also relate to ethical issues. Increasingly, companies are being scrutinised on the topic of corporate social responsibility. This is especially apparent amongst the graduate population.

Connection: You have a very diverse workforce, in terms of skills and location, what were the main issues facing your employees and how did you meet all their needs?

GSK: As you’ve rightly identified, our workforce is very diverse. GSK employs 105,000 people in 117 countries operating in nearly every time zone. Our main approach is not to treat all our employees the same way. The best way to expose and understand individual needs is by focusing on the unit in which they spend the majority of their working life. We find issues fall into two categories. The larger issues facing the whole company, and micro issues which relate to the individual and their team environment.

Connection: What are the main health enhancement initiatives on offer at GSK?

GSK: We run a range of initiatives for GSK employees, from resilience programmes at personal and team levels, to pedometer programmes and health risk assessments. Results of company opinion surveys and feedback from the resilience programmes have indicated high levels of fatigue within the business. Over the last six months, we have been working on a performance programme to build energy by concentrating on physical, emotional and spiritual aspects. We are currently looking at plans to expand this programme to benefit the wider business.

Connection: How does Ceridian’s EAP service fit into the overall health management initiative?

GSK: The service provides a level of emotional & social support to employees. It helps them deal with their work/life balance concerns and needs. Outsourcing this function to Ceridian saves time and allows us to focus our resources on other initiatives.
We are currently working with Ceridian to set up a ‘pilot’ scheme, which focuses on leadership health coaching. We have recognised that without proper follow-up, our senior executives are not supported in making and sustaining the life changes suggested in their medical assessments.

Connection: Were there any major challenges to implementing the health management initiatives and how were these overcome?

GSK: Our major challenge was to ensure that any strategy/initiative we introduced delivered on our goals and that it would be manageable and acceptable in all environments. We recognised that different departments across each geographical location would have different beliefs about what was important. To guarantee we were spending our budget in the best way we combined our knowledge in this field with a lot of internal customer research.

Connection: How have the resilience programmes been received by your employees?

GSK: This has been received incredibly well. For the past 3 years I have worked closely with a PhD student who has been analysing the programmes and conducting qualitative interviews with the recipients of our services and the results have been very positive.
Success has spread throughout the business by word of mouth. I have had calls from key members in various departments asking for the service to be mandatory but we don’t want to create a ‘tick box’ mentality; employees need to be engaged.

Connection: What has the impact been for the business?

GSK: The impact on the business has been tremendous. Through our resilience programmes, we have seen a 10% reduction in fatigue and a 16% reduction in frustration. Our smoking cessation programmes have helped 37% of quitters remain smoke-free after 6 months.
We have been fortunate enough to gain external recognition for our initiatives. In particular, our resilience programme has been recognised as a beacon of excellence by the HSE in the UK.

Connection: What advice would you give to anyone looking to improve Health/Wellness issues in their organisation?

GSK: I would pass on our “fish in the pond” analogy. The fish represents the individual and the pond their environment, which could be the team, department or the overall business. If the fish is unwell, you would take it out of the pond and make it better, before returning it to the pond. However, if the fish was unwell because the pond was polluted, you wouldn’t return the healthy fish back into the polluted pond. This is the view we take with our business. We need healthy fish in a healthy pond to ensure optimal success at an individual and organisational level.

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  • 1st September 2007
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