Employee engagement the key at “Best Employer” Novartis Pharmaceuticals

For the sixth time, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. has been named one of the top employers in Quebec, according to the newly released 2010 annual report of Hewitt's 50 Best Employers in Canada. This is due in large part to the high level of engagement of its 750 employees across Canada, including 350 at its head office in Dorval.

Again this year, the Dorval-based innovative pharmaceutical company moved up the rankings to 29th position across Canada, from 37th last year, and to third position among Quebec companies from fifth a year ago.
The report recognizes Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada for creating an environment that builds commitment from its employees through respectful management, in addition to offering a broad range of employee services and benefits, which have been further improved over the last year.

"This is a great achievement which recognizes both the strong and continued engagement of our employees across Canada and our commitment to making a difference to the health of Canadians," says Julie Bellani, vice-president, human resources. "A vital reason for that strong engagement is our continuous focus on the benefits we bring to Canadian patients through the innovative medicines we develop. Novartis employees take great satisfaction in putting patients at the centre of what we do."

Novartis employees learn directly about the importance of their work in patients' lives by regular involvement by patients in town hall meetings at the Dorval head office. In the past year five patients told their stories directly to employees, telling of the benefit Novartis medicines had made to their lives and those of their families.

Also contributing to the strong employee engagement, Bellani adds, is the company's commitment and involvement in the wider community through a variety of initiatives. This was emphasized this past year with the institution of a program that grants employees two paid days a year, that they can take off from work to contribute to a fundraising organization or other volunteer community activity. This is in addition to the global Novartis Community Partnership Day in April during which Novartis employees volunteer at local non-profit community groups.
In 2009, more than 220 Dorval employees volunteered at 13 Montreal-area centres doing spring cleaning, painting, sorting food for needy families and conducting a fundraising car wash. Novartis employees generously support the Ride for the Cure, a three-day cycling marathon from Toronto to Montreal that, in 2009, raised over $152,000 for breast cancer research. Employees also surpassed the campaign objective for donations to Centraide/United Way as well as for West Island Community Shares, which serves the area of the Dorval head office. For the holiday season, employees conducted a food drive and collected gifts for needy children which were donated to the Salvation Army's Angel Tree.

Another new initiative was the launch of the Novartis Overseas Corporate Social Responsibility Program which enables Canadian employees to contribute their expertise as a free resource to one of many Novartis global health partnerships in the developing world. Under this program, employees volunteer their vacation time to take part in an overseas program, with travel costs covered by the company. The first participant, Mike Lazarovits, a Toronto-based sales manager, traveled to Tanzania to work with the Novartis program Roll Back Malaria.

A global commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion is also an important part of generating positive employee engagement at Novartis. "Our diversity and inclusion program allows associates not just to recognize but also to embrace and leverage individual differences, which creates a very positive environment both for employees and for business success," says Bellani.
The focus of the diversity and inclusion program in 2009 has been on educating leaders on its importance, exploring the motivations and key drivers for women in leadership roles, as well as understanding generational differences in the workplace. In 2010, the focus will be life-work integration, flexible working arrangements and "thinking style" differences.

About the "50 Best Employers in Canada" Report
This is the 11th annual ranking and profiling of Canada's best employers, conducted by The Globe & Mail's Report on Business magazine, with research partner Hewitt Associates, a leading global human resources outsourcing and consulting firm. Again this year, the Hewitt survey involved more than 100,000 employees and 2,000 leaders at almost 200 organizations. To be eligible, companies must have at least 400 permanent employees in Canada and have operated here for at least three years. The rankings are compiled from three surveys for each company: an employee opinion questionnaire filled out by at least 400 employees (more for larger employers); a survey of senior leaders that measures how closely their goals and fundamental values are aligned with those of their staff; and a detailed set of questions for the human resources department on HR policies and practices. The employee survey results account for the largest portion of an employer's ranking. More information is available at www.hewitt.com/bestemployerscanada.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., a leader in the healthcare field, is committed to the discovery, development and marketing of innovative products to improve the well-being of all Canadians. In 2008, the Company invested over $96 million in research and development. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. employs approximately 750 people in Canada and its headquarters are located in Dorval, Quebec. For further information, please visit www.novartis.ca