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Off-site Meeting 2018 on the subject of change

The only constant is change. That's why the attitude in every individual's head has to change: that, in short, was the verdict of the Roche Employees' Association's (AVR) Off-site Meeting, which took place this year from 27 to 29 June at Hotel Rigi Kaltbad. Participants included the Board of the AVR Basel and its President, Adnan Tanglay, the Board of the Central Switzerland section of the AVR and its President, Reto Buholzer, and Human Resources (HR), represented by Bruno Weissen, Head of HR Basel/Kaiseraugst, Daniel Meier, Head of HR Reinach AG, Jane Weinmann, Head of HR Rotkreuz RDI, and Ursula Lottenbach, Head of HR Rotkreuz RDS.

Regina Pfister, HR BP Basel, updated attendees with regard to Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs). These come into effect if employees are not fulfilling the demands of their job – however, this is only the case for 5% of staff. Twenty-nine PIPs were created in 2017, compared with 18 in 2016. In the past year, nine were successfully completed, and eight in the year before that. The remaining cases resulted in contract terminations, either from the employer or employee, or in other solutions such as a function class downgrade.

Taking personal responsibility

In this context, Bruno Weissen made reference to the Roche Reorientation Centre (NOZ), which has been around since 2006 and has a success rate of 96%: one third of all employees who have their contracts terminated find another job internally, one third take early retirement, and the final third find a new job outside the company. "However, we are only able to support those who let themselves be helped", emphasised Weissen. The speed of change is increasing. The answer to reorganisations is employability – that is, always being fit for the labour market. "Employees must take personal  responsibility in this regard", says Weissen.

Jane Weinmann presented the new tool for this: Workday, the new HR information system that has replaced CHRIS, is also a kind of Linkedin within Roche. On this Internet-based platform, employees can create professional profiles for themselves, network with other Roche employees around the world, and be found more easily by HR staff. A "learning burst" takes care of personal development, also with regard to Workday: at http://learn.roche.com/people-practices-workouts/pick-a-workout/, you can register for eight sessions that you can work through at your own pace online.

But the HR department itself is also changing: at the moment, the HR department is giving much thought to the HR model of the future in line with the idea of "New ways of working". Improvements are due to be implemented as of the fourth quarter of this year.

Daniel Meier talked about the challenges that Roche will face in the area of pharmaceuticals: as has already been mentioned several times, the patents for several well-known medicines are expiring, meaning that the company could lose 40% of its income. In addition, other companies are trying to establish biosimilars on the market. "The only countermeasure is to launch new products in new sectors", states Meier. Somebody in the audience wanted to know why Roche would not then simply produce generics. "This is a strategic decision. Roche has traditionally committed itself to innovation", says Meier.

Ursula Lottenbach reported on change in the diagnostics sector: "These days, it is not individual devices which are being sold, but entire systems", she explained: "Then there are also new Chinese competitors who can produce things more cheaply." This leads to a whole host of changes: the demand is no longer just for the core competency, but also for knowledge of new, digital technologies. Furthermore, we cannot wait until a product is perfect before releasing it onto the market – we must launch it more quickly and then continue to develop it.

Reto Zwygart, pRED HR BP for Schlieren, tackled progressive digitalisation "We already have Industry 4.0", he said. A service is often digital and no longer takes place on site. A pharmaceutical company can carry out a simulation with patient data instead of performing analogue studies. Digitalisation is also giving way to new stakeholders: " B2B is increasingly becoming B2B2C", advised Zwygart. By that we mean that instead of just business to business, communications are also going out to customers.

The other talks included one on employability, which once again emphasised how important individual initiative, lifelong learning and flexibility are for both our own continued employment and also for the survival of the company as a whole.

Active core message

Even before the HR guests arrived, the AVR Basel and the Central Switzerland section of the AVR had together discussed internal topics such as the core message that the slogan "together, active, strong" should complement: The choices were "Ihr Vertrauen für unser Wirken" (Your confidence in our work) and "Mittendrin und für Sie da" (In the middle of it and there for you) – both were developed by the advertising agency kreisvier, based in Basel. While the AVR Basel was predominantly in favour of the second option, the Central Switzerland section argued for the first core message. They felt that the first version was more active, showing that things are being done. The second option they found simply to be a Committee position that did not really reach out to individual AVR members enough. This argument convinced the participants. They therefore chose the first core message, but with a slight change in the German: it now reads "Dein Vertrauen für unser Wirken" (Your confidence in our work). Now a working group will deal with the visualisation of this core message.

Another important topic was the reorganisations: the AVR Committee members want a common process ("one voice"). Furthermore, they all agreed that the AVR will have to focus more intensively on individual topics to ensure it does not waste time, and should act more rather than just reacting. Another demand was for better training in the area of negotiations.

The participants at this year's Off-site Meeting may have been given some inspiration in this regard by René Borbonus, who took the training section on the third day with a great deal of wit. The well-known German rhetoric coach emphasised how important clarity and respect are for success in communications. At the end, the AVR Committee members were able to put what they had learned into practice.

To ensure there was also time for cultivating contacts and enjoying some sustenance, a social event together with the HR representatives took place on the second day, which saw the merry group headed up the mountain to the Bärenstube at Hotel Rigi-First.

Sabine Knosala