Winning Secrets: AbbVie Thailand's talent philosophy centres on engagement, development, and rewards

AbbVie Thailand emerged as a finalist across three categories at the Employee Experience Awards 2022, Singapore:

  • Best Onboarding Experience
  • Best Rewards and Recognition Programme
  • Best Response to COVID-19

In this interview, the AbbVie Thailand team tells us how everything at the company — from expectations on behaviours, to how the team differentiates its rewards and holds accountability — is driven by its talent philosophy.

What exactly is this talent approach? Read on as the team explains.

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs and lows of your winning strategy?

From day one, the AbbVie culture has been instilled in the day-to-day working lives of all our employees. Our cultural framework includes the 'AbbVie Principles', the 'Ways We Work', and our 'Talent Philosophy'.  

AbbVie Ways We Work is our core set of behaviours for all employees, at all levels. We believe that how we work with colleagues and achieve results matters. But a strong company culture, which is reflected in highly engaged employees, doesn’t just happen. It’s hardwired into every element of our work.

Our Talent Philosophy guides how we lead and develop talent. Every human resources practice and programme is grounded in this philosophy, including our expectations on behaviours, how we differentiate rewards, and holding each other accountable for raising the bar on performance. It shows how we value and reward our people.

We engage, develop, and reward our people.

Engage. From day one, we listen to their ideas and questions, so we can be even better at what we do.

Develop. Learn every day, and build new skills every day. We prioritise learning and development, so our leaders are always ready for the next challenge and opportunity.

Reward. Exceptional performance creates exceptional opportunities and rewards. Financial awards and incentives are just a part of this - we invest in our people, celebrate successes through recognition programmes, and promote healthy lifestyles and work-life wellbeing.

'Total Rewards' is AbbVie’s approach to compensation, benefits and wellbeing to enable employees to meet their personal and professional needs. Our total rewards are designed and consistently evaluated to be highly competitive in the marketplace to attract, retain, and engage the top talent it takes to achieve business objectives and continue to make AbbVie a great place to work.

We are always looking for talented people to join our team. And when we find them, we make it our business to reward them well. At AbbVie, great talent is at the heart of our organisation.

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Q Understanding and meeting your employees’ needs and expectations is never an easy feat. How did you identify the business & employee needs, and craft the perfect solution?

We care about what’s important to our employees. Our programmes go beyond the usual. We’re driven by the health, welfare, and financial wellbeing of our employees. That’s why we offer employees a robust portfolio of benefits, compensation, and wellbeing programmes that enables them to meet their personal and professional needs.

AbbVie’s approach to compensation, benefits, and wellbeing - what we call Total Rewards - is built to be competitive. In addition to recognising and rewarding individual performance, not only are all the basics covered, but also focus on the holistic elements.

How we can make our people’s entire life better? We offer employees flexibility and support throughout their changing life stages.

We provide our employees with the opportunity to recognise each other any time, at any place. Empowering employees to recognise each other freely increases your chances of building a culture of recognition - it should be the foundational element of the programme, something that’s open to everyone and anyone. It’s called the 'Reward and Recognition Programme'.

At AbbVie, we believe in self-directed growth and development, where employees set the objectives that they want to achieve. We supplement this individualised approach with company-wide education and an investment in emerging leaders. We also conduct annual talent management reviews, driven from the organisational perspective and led by our leaders across all functions.

Our award-winning, global ‘Learn. Develop. Perform.’ (LDP) programme offers webinars, online tools, and mobile resources to all employees and puts skill and capability development on topics like resilience, decision-making, empathy, innovation, inclusivity, and influence at their fingertips. We encourage each employee to define an annual learning and development objective for themselves and prioritise development opportunities to meet that objective.

Understanding our employees’ interests and goals allows us to offer highly relevant opportunities that contribute to their success and give them the resources they need to grow their careers and contribute to their fullest potential. All employees also have access to a suite of career development resources that enable self-guided planning to define career interests, investigate job openings, and identify opportunities for improvement. We also make training resources available to help employees evolve their 'Ways We Work' behaviours.

Our leaders play an essential role in bringing out the best in their teams. We offer live and virtual training resources on topics like inclusive leadership and defining expectations through our 'Leadership Essentials' workshops. This includes 'Leadership Expectations', which focuses on equipping new people leaders by defining our leadership practices and expectations; 'Leading Performance', which focuses on how leaders raise the bar on their own performance and that of their team, and 'Leading Teams', which helps leaders develop their strategy for inclusive leadership and keeping teams motivated.

At AbbVie, we engage our employees on the topics that matter most to us and reinforce the culture that we have developed together. From volunteerism and employee wellness events to talent development and employee resource groups, our employee engagement activities help to support our culture and drive employee retention.

Our focus on amplifying our culture has generated positive results in performance, our reputation, and the engagement of our leaders and employees.

Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience at AbbVie Thailand?

The reward and recognition programme motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment, and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but also increases productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.

Beyond communicating appreciation and providing motivation to the recognised employee, the act of recognition also sends messages to other employees about what success looks like. In this way, recognition is both a tool for personal reward and an opportunity to reinforce the desired culture of the organisation to other employees which is our AbbVie ways of working and talent philosophy.

Our people feel the work they do at AbbVie hasn’t gone unnoticed by peers, cross-functional teams, or hiring managers. They receive a high level of achievement through evaluations by the leadership team. Finally, they have been honoured to receive some recognitions in the company, which are not only monetary awards, but also public recognition. We believe acknowledging an employee's best work goes a long way toward making them feel valued, and can lead to other desirable workplace outcomes.

Q Could you offer some recommendations to your peers across industries for their own EX foundation?

At AbbVie, we are inclusive in the way we turn our vision, purpose, and patient-centricity into reality for employees. Putting patients first has shaped and sharpened AbbVie’s strategy, direction, and values.

What we do may seem like just another job, but it means everything to the patients who depend on us to improve their quality of life. This passion changes the way we work. Whenever our team faces a challenge, we work together to solve it; we move faster, and we look for innovative ideas because behind each challenge is a patient in need. It makes me feel proud of what we are achieving at AbbVie.

Q If you were to reflect, what is one thing you’d do differently in executing this strategy?

At AbbVie, our culture determines our success. AbbVie is committed to making a remarkable impact on patients’ lives and creating a great workplace for all employees. To achieve this vision, we knew that we had to create the right culture for our people to deliver on our business objectives.

Our culture shapes how we work in AbbVie. It defines how we work together as one team, to be clear and courageous to do things with conviction; and as a team to decide, be smart and sure about the choices we make, be agile and accountable to our stakeholders, and ultimately, to be innovative and always strive to make possibilities real.

Q Looking ahead, how are you going to take this winning strategy higher and further in the coming years? Give us a sneak peek into your upcoming plans to grow the overall employee experience.

COVID-19 is changing the way we work. Employees spend more time typing and less time talking. The feeling of engagement can be lost easily.

The way to keep remote employees engaged is to continuously support them through recognition. Recognition is a meaningful way to demonstrate to our people that we care about their work and wellbeing, even when they aren’t in the office. Furthermore, not only does recognition improve employee engagement, but it also strengthens peer-to-peer relationships and manager-to-peer relationships. We try to maximise technology to recognise face-to-face recognition. It is the best way during this time to celebrate achievements together and get that in-office feeling they might be lacking at home.

We have our strong culture — AbbVie ways of working and talent philosophy — which has been clearly articulated to all employees. It shows how we value and reward our people with certain programmes and processes. Our employees can trust that we value people and treat them with respect. Even when we are apart, we still recognise hard work and dedication as always. 

Q 10 years down the line, where do you see the future of HR?

The future HR team will be real HR business partners who play a strong partnership role with leaders and managers to create a positive work environment in AbbVie and a rewarding experience for employees. Guided by a philosophy on talent that underpins high performance, we provide a clear and consistent way to give feedback, coach, manage and reward people for performance and for providing great experiences at work.

Managers will learn to be talent developers and are equipped with frameworks and tools to better differentiate talent, be accountable for the development of their people, and be transparent about what it takes to succeed. Employees are finding freedom within this framework to stretch and exceed expectations.

We believe that HR digitalisation is the most significant change affecting organisations and has since gained exponential adoption over the years; HR must execute new methods and procedures to keep up with the rapid modernisation of the workforce. The benefit of a systematic process is creating newer operational HR processes to help improve communication, collaboration, and access to data analytics.

HR will be using data to predict people's actions as its possesses large quantities of people data. By applying predictive analysis to this data, HR can become a strategic partner that relies on proven and data-driven predictive models, instead of relying on gut feeling and soft science. HR predictive analytics will enable HR to forecast the impact of people policies on wellbeing, happiness, and bottom-line performance.

Treating employees as individuals and not as part of a group or segment is one of the most important long-term trends. Each person has individual professional development needs, so no one solution fits all mindsets. We need to accept that there are multiple shades of grey in between, and people cannot be treated in the same manner, since every individual has his or her own needs and aspirations.

Photo / Shutterstock

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