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Fueling Success: Novo Nordisk South Africa's Approach to Employee Engagement and Wellness

Learn how Novo Nordisk addresses HR challenges in the pharmaceutical industry and reflects on its experience with the Best Places to Work certification journey, offering valuable insights for organizations seeking to enhance their workplace culture.

Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk is a leading global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Denmark. Our purpose is to drive change to defeat serious chronic diseases, built upon our heritage in diabetes.

  • Employee experience
  • HR Practices

We do so by pioneering scientific breakthroughs, expanding access to our medicines, and working to prevent and ultimately cure disease.

How do you actively engage your employees?

At Novo Nordisk, we are led by a set of values known as the Novo Nordisk Way, underpinning these values are 10 essential behaviors. One of these behaviors is to create and sustain a healthy and engaging working environment. Our 'Speak Up' policy encourages open communication and idea-sharing for continuous improvement. We facilitate transparent communication through regular 1:1s with People Leaders and teams, initiatives like the "Boots-on-the-Ground" campaign, and "Listening Tours". Recognizing the importance of flexibility, we support our staff with a 3-day in-office policy, promoting work-life balance and remote work options.

What are the most significant HR challenges faced by your industry today?

Challenges in attracting & retaining skilled professionals with requisite experience especially in specialized areas such as research, medical, regulatory and market access are top of the list in the pharmaceutical industry. 


Attracting top talent in a competitive job market both locally and globally can be a challenge, amid trying to navigate complex labor market dynamics.

Sara Norcross
Sara Norcross

Novo Nordisk South Africa Vice President & General Manager

Could you share details about the teamwork activities offered to your employees?

A 360 approach to employee wellness is key to facilitating a healthy organization and an engaged workforce, this is why our BAMEAC Roadmap to Health & Wellness Journey and more specifically the It Starts with Me Campaign were so crucial to our collective success with wellness. This campaign was developed to make wellness a personal journey by reminding everyone in the team that to make changes for our health, we must believe that change starts within each one of us. It is our commitment to our unique journey that will bring about sustainable improvements.

There are several other initiatives that we provide as an affiliate, such as offering an array of fresh fruits twice a week ensuring we are encouraging a healthy lifestyle with our staff. Through the Wellness Team, we have also arranged for chair yoga and other meditation.

Reflect on your experience with the Best Places to Work certification journey.

We have participated in Best Places to Work since 2021 and 2023 was a special year as we celebrated 100-years of Novo Nordisk, and we were awarded number 1 Best Places to Work in South Africa and number 1 in the continent of Africa. In 2023 we also participated in Best Places to Work for Women for the first time, and we received our certification with particularly good engagement scores. This is important as we employ 77% females in our organisation. It has been a wonderful experience which has allowed us to benchmark ourselves externally. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to implement the certification process for their organization?

It is a simple and user-friendly process with support from the Best Places team. Being recognized as a top workplace has enhanced our employer brand, making it more attractive to top talent and aids in retaining existing employees. The employee survey provides valuable insights into employee engagement and satisfaction, this feedback then guides improvements in the workplace. Participation allows an organization to benchmark their workplace practices against industry standards, fostering continuous improvement.

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