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Creating an Inclusive and Engaging Workplace: The Novo Nordisk GBS Journey to Excellence

Learn how Novo Nordisk GBS Prioritizes Employee Engagement and Well-being.

Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk Global Business Services (GBS) is an integral part of Novo Nordisk, a leading global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Denmark. Along with 60,000 colleagues worldwide, we strive to support the medical needs of people living with serious chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular, and other rare diseases, that affect hundreds of millions of people and are among the most urgent global health challenges.

  • Employee experience
  • Employee Wellbeing
  • Leadership

Novo Nordisk GBS plays an important role in driving our purpose. With almost 4,000 employees in Bangalore, we partner with our Denmark-based colleagues to deliver innovative, high-quality end-to-end business solutions across the entire value chain. Our Bangalore team operates as an integrated part of the project-centric development organisation across 14 functions including data management, biostatistics, medical affairs, clinical reporting, safety surveillance, marketing, commercial strategy, finance & IT for both pipeline and marketed products.

Strongly aligned to our values – the Novo Nordisk Way, at GBS we strive to provide a collaborative, safe, diverse, inclusive, high-performance workplace that values our people for the unique skills, backgrounds, and perspectives they bring to the table. We encourage our colleagues to be comfortable to bring their real selves to work.
Life-changing opportunities in an open and engaging work culture enable our colleagues to take on global roles from Bangalore and to travel to all corners of the globe to pursue their careers.

How do you actively engage your employees?

Employee engagement is essential for business longevity and success. The key to keeping employees actively engaged is to listen carefully, encourage anyone to speak up, and work tirelessly to deliver what our employees need from a good workplace. I begin this journey by personally welcoming every new employee to Novo Nordisk GBS and kicking off the onboarding every Monday morning. We currently grow our presence in Bangalore by approximately 600 new roles each year.
Our employee resource groups play an important role in mobilising NNWay by driving initiatives and engagements that help us sustain our company culture. Unique employee listening opportunities in the form of open houses and employee connects, create platforms for people to connect with the leadership and ask any questions that are top of mind for employees. It is also an opportunity to share high-level vision in terms of people, products, technology, business, or strategy. There are no taboo subjects or silenced questions, what is important to employees is heard, and answered.
Knowing that we have 80% of our employees who are millennials, but also employees in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, we commit to offering a sustainable, equitable, and transparent rewards and benefits proposition that ensures everyone feels respected, valued, and proud to work for Novo Nordisk. Be it pay equity or inclusive benefits; our policies are also designed keeping our values and the needs of our employees in mind. Our recently launched flexible benefits program WECare embraces the essence of wellness, and ergonomics, along with child and elderly care. An employee can utilise a fixed sum per year in a flexible way towards the needs geared for personal or family wellbeing, children, or eldercare.
Our organization is committed to providing a harassment-free work environment with equitable opportunities for all without any discrimination. Our policies reinforce the same messaging whether it’s the Equal Opportunity Policy (we provide equitable grounds and opportunities for overall employment) or the HIV & AIDS policy (this policy ensures non–discrimination, confidentiality related to a person’s HIV status and appropriate grievance redressal mechanism for all). We ensure that our workplace infrastructure also supports this endeavor by having gender-neutral washrooms in our offices. Employee benefits programs similarly reflect our diversity & inclusion ambitions with 8 weeks of paid leave for non-birthing parents and a group medical insurance policy that meets the diverse needs of our employee base. For example, the inclusion of gender reassignment surgery, surrogacy & infertility treatments, HIV/AIDS treatment, prosthetic device coverage for differently abled employees, dependent coverage for same-sex partners, specially-abled children without age limit, etc. 
Our recently launched Flamingo program for women caters to our women colleagues who are embracing motherhood. This unique and industry-leading policy is crafted to take care of the special needs of expecting mothers and new moms and engage volunteer buddies to support them.
Finally, having a comprehensive on-site health education, prevention, and treatment service with on-site medical doctors, Nurses, and visiting specialists, helps our employees feel supported in their daily well-being.
All these initiatives are focused on delivering the message that in Novo Nordisk GBS, Everybody Matters. Not only do we want our employees to be proud that they work for Novo Nordisk, but we also want their families to be equally proud too.
Our efforts on employee engagement have reduced our rolling average annual attrition down from around 16% in October 2022 to 7.5% in February 2024.

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

The ever-evolving workplace landscape calls for more than just reactive measures, there is a need for an even more proactive and people-centric approach. In Novo Nordisk GBS, ‘Everybody Matters’.
HR leaders have the challenging task of building and nurturing a workplace culture that is aligned with the organisation's values and vision. This task becomes more complex as we welcome people from various organisations, and from all corners of India. It’s essential to create an environment that allows employees to align with the purpose & values, whilst also being their true selves. While many companies take initiatives to promote inclusivity, it is crucial to implement these initiatives in the right way. Getting the gender ratio right is not the only definition of diversity & inclusion, at Novo Nordisk GBS we welcome and celebrate everyone.
We may not be able to go back to the pre-COVID era and return to the old ways of working: the pandemic has changed many psychological aspects of people’s lives: the way they look at work-life balance, well-being, and purpose in life has undergone complete change. The new generation is voicing requests for some bold workplace arrangements that are transformational for the organisation and employees. It’s important to listen, and act. Flexibility is one of the key factors in choosing a workplace or staying there. However, to encourage meaningful collaboration, we see that it’s important to support the employees with the right choices setting appropriate guardrails to ensure team and organizational dynamics, and then providing flexibility and empowerment to enable the right professional and personal balance.

Establishing and facilitating transparent and open communication channels is crucial for creating an environment where employees feel comfortable and safe speaking up.  We as an organisation foster a culture of feedback, and we listen carefully to understand the needs of our employees. This needs to be buttressed with a psychologically safe environment that should be nourished with walking the talk from the leaders.

John Dawber
John Dawber

Corporate Vice President & Managing Director

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

Having led this organisation since September 2022, it’s very clear that I am standing on the shoulders of some giants who came before me, and I work with a leadership team who have decades of experience. Therefore, achieving this recognition was not an overnight success for Novo Nordisk GBS.

I remember my early days in the role and feeling that there was a “Maslow Hierarchy” of employee engagement, and my immediate focus on listening and fixing the basics seemed intuitively very important. As a GBS, our people are everything. If we have engaged people, who feel appreciated and not used, listened to, and not told, respected, and not belittled, developed, and not burned out, we have a sustainable workplace that can deliver world-class performance for Novo Nordisk. Hence it was important to focus on employee experience and ensure that continue to raise our bar beyond the easy, cheap, and simple, by understanding what our employees need and how can we facilitate this.     
When we signed up for the certification, it required us to collaborate across departments and teams to gather inputs for the assessment and survey. It was a rigorous process covering aspects that are critical to having a high-performance workplace culture.  The data gave us important insights into what the industry standards are and how we can continuously implement improvements.
Employee feedback helped us identify areas for further enhancements and transparency and at the same time allowed us to celebrate the successes. Finally, we felt immense pride being placed 1st in India, across all industry sectors and company sizes. The achievement is an acknowledgment of our strong purpose, strong culture, and laser-sharp focus on fostering a high-performance, inclusive workplace culture for our employees.

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