Historically, employee engagement at Merck is much higher than the average at most U.S. companies.
We strive to foster this engagement in many ways: by promoting a positive work environment, by requiring ethical business practices, and by communicating proactively with our employees.
Also critical to our success is employee feedback. As we do with our external stakeholders, we work to understand our employees’ concerns, needs and thoughts about the company's strengths and weaknesses, and we incorporate these findings into our strategies, processes and programs to help us achieve our business goals.
And since our employees are our most prominent and valuable ambassadors with most of our external stakeholders, we make sure that we communicate important news about the company to employees as quickly as possible and through the most appropriate channels. Employees are generally notified within minutes of most major external announcements.
For example, through our global enterprise portal, known internally as “Sync,” employees can gain access to company news and videos, divisional and functional news channels, and organizational communities that allow them to share interests, messages and ideas online. Other employee communications vehicles include quarterly Employee Business Briefings, Town Halls, and email communications from senior management, as necessary.
We also enable employees to give their feedback to our online news site and via brief, three-to-five-question surveys and open-comment forms attached to key communications. Soliciting employee feedback on the subject of the communication in real time gives us the information we need to close knowledge gaps and address employee concerns. Such direct employee feedback has resulted in "meet and greet" sessions hosted by our CEO and our Executive Committee, which give employees yet another opportunity to share information with senior leaders in a more personal setting.
We conduct global employee briefings every quarter. Our CEO and members of the Executive Committee speak to employees about how we are fulfilling Merck/MSD's mission and goals. These encouraging and educational sessions cover topics such as the quarterly performance update, pipeline progress, customer stories, and anticipated product developments.
As part of our mission to maintain a satisfying and productive work environment, Merck routinely surveys all employees to learn their perspectives on the business and how we are responding to the needs of our workforce. We also conduct an annual employee opinion survey, the Merck/MSD Voice, with content based on Merck's business needs.
Offered in 20 languages, the survey helps Merck leaders and managers understand employees' perspectives on our culture and its effect on the company’s ability to meet our business objectives, as well as what drives employee engagement. We communicate highlights of the survey results through meetings with our employees, in our employee publications, on our intranet and through emailed summaries.
Our 2011 results showed that employee confidence in Merck's mission and future as a healthcare leader remains strong. Results indicate that employees are most engaged by the sense of purpose that their work provides. However, employees indicate that engagement can be increased by greater transparency in the link between employee input and senior leader decision-making processes as well as clearly defined career paths.
Executive Committee members and leaders of the company's strategic change initiatives use the results of our annual surveys as part of their ongoing strategic planning. Based on 2010 results, for instance, senior leaders actively made themselves more accessible to employees, and these efforts were reflected in the 2011 results.
Other Resources for Employee Feedback
In addition to the employee surveys, our ombudsmen within Merck's Office of Ethics listen to employee concerns in confidence and, when necessary, take action. Our anonymous help line, which operates in accordance with applicable legal standards for employee-based hotlines, is available 24/7 to listen and provide advice to employees worldwide. Learn more.
In September 2011, 63 percent of Merck employees (more than 55,000 respondents) worldwide completed the Merck/MSD Voice survey. This participation rate is considered high by the independent organization that administered the survey on Merck's behalf. The September organizational culture results were on a par with those obtained in previous administrations. These findings showed that Merck's strengths remain:
- A clearly articulated sense of purpose and direction
- Strong core values
- High levels of employee involvement
Highlights From September 2011 Responses
Organizational culture results are reported as a percentile score compared to financially high-performing organizations. Merck’s scores are particularly high with regard to our core values, with scores above the 80th percentile (i.e., scores as good as or better than 80 percent) of financially high-performing organizations in the following areas.
- There is an ethical code that guides our behavior and tells us right from wrong (88th percentile)
- There is clearly a right way and a wrong way to do things at Merck (93rd percentile)
- There is a clear and consistent set of values that governs the way we do business (80th percentile)
- Ignoring core values will get you in trouble (83rd percentile)
Areas For Improvement
- Customer Focus: Employee feedback indicated the need to help all employees develop a deeper understanding of customer needs and concerns, and to develop a more rigorous process for integrating customer interests into our decision-making.
- Creating Change: Employee feedback indicated that the company needs to be more flexible and adaptable in how we get things done and to be more responsive to changes in the business environment.
- Capability Development: Employee feedback suggested the need to invest more in developing the capabilities needed to execute effectively against current and future business challenges.
Our next Merck/MSD Voice administration will take place in the third quarter of 2012 as part of our strategic planning. We will continue to measure organizational culture and employee engagement; however, we are moving to an approach that is specifically aligned with Merck’s strategic goals. Based on work done with our Executive Committee, the new approach will measure and drive actions on the cultural aspects of Customer Focus, Innovation (i.e., Courage & Candor and Rapid, Disciplined Decision-Making), and Reputation and Trust to drive employee engagement and achieve our strategic goals. We strive to score as well as or better than financially high-performing organizations on these dimensions of organizational culture. For more information on Merck’s strategy and approach to ethics, click here.