Global Workforce Agility Report 2021: An Interview with Novartis
“We want to make it appealing and attractive to work for Novartis in whatever capacity, whether it's as a permanent employee, a freelancer, on a project basis, as an intern, or as a consultant”
Novartis is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, with 110,000 employees and annual revenues approaching $50 billion. We spoke with Maurice Benz, Global Category Manager for the External Workforce, to find out how Novartis is re-imagining its workforce to meet future demands.
You mentioned that Novartis is re-imagining the workforce. What does this mean?
Historically our approach to acquiring talent has been quite siloed, with individual aspects managed by different functions across the business. Our goal now is to implement a much more integrated approach that harnesses strategic workforce planning, predictive analytics, the up- and re-skilling of internal talent, and the use of contingent labour where appropriate. Operating a more holistic approach to workforce management is key for us.
This approach is built around the principles of build, buy, borrow. We start with ‘build’ –using workforce analytics to identify the internal capability and availability of talent, and understand the workforce needs of tomorrow. Then, if the skills aren’t available internally, we go to the external market to either buy or borrow, depending on whether the need is long term or project based. The industry often refers to this as a total workforce management approach.
What are the main reasons you use contingent talent?
At Novartis we use contingent talent to manage peaks in demands, but also to acquire expertise that we don’t currently have within our business. Contingent talent is now a critical aspect of our integrated talent management approach.
How do you ensure contingent workers are integrated into the workforce and feel a sense of belonging?
We treat contingent workers in the same way we treat permanent workers. We integrate them to the extent that is legally permitted. They are contributing to our objectives and Novartis’ success, so why would we treat them differently?
Does Novartis have a specific value proposition for contingent talent?
We have developed a value proposition that’s focused on contingent talent, and it is strongly aligned to our employee value proposition for permanent talent. We want to make it appealing and attractive to work for Novartis in whatever capacity, whether it's as a permanent employee, a freelancer, on a project basis, as an intern, or as a consultant. We want to be seen as an employer of choice with a great opportunity to gain experience and to develop a career, whether that's for a short or longer term.
What are your talent priorities over the next 12 months?
Our priorities remain focused on re-imagining the workforce. That is our strategy, our vision. It’s about making sure we understand our workforce needs for the years to come, that we are leveraging our internal talent marketplace to make the right talent available, and that we are creating opportunities for our talent to be engaged in different projects and to have new career opportunities. And then we need to optimize our fulfilment channels for when we do need to source talent externally. There are multiple initiatives we are looking at in order to strengthen our ability to source the best talent, including how we can strengthen our employer brand.
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