Making sure transformations are socially responsible

The list seems endless: everywhere at Roche, departments are undergoing a transformation. Over 20 transformations have been carried out this year alone or are still underway. Among that figure are four major transformations: PS (Pharma Site), BBKQC (Basel Small Molecules and Biologics Kaiseraugst Quality Control), pRED/SMR TMo (Pharma Research and Early Development/Small Molecule Research Therapeutic Modalities) and HR (Human Resources) Servicing. Depending on the department, the number of employees affected ranges from one- to three-digit figures. Most employees are able to find a follow-up solution – either at Roche, outside the company or by taking early retirement.

“Roche is reinventing itself. Never before in the history of the pharmaceutical industry has a company undergone so many transformation processes,” says Adnan Tanglay, President of the Roche Employees’ Association (AVR). The reason for the explosion: “Roche is preparing itself for the future so that it can deliver medicines to patients faster,” the AVR President explains. He proceeds to cite Bill Anderson, who says that Roche should generate three to five times more output at half the cost to the general public. To this end, Roche is moving further and further away from the old hierarchies, focusing instead on topic-specific collaboration. The first step in this direction was the ReModel GRA (Global Regional Affiliates) programme within the Pharma International Group, where the previous regional structures such as Asia Pacific or Western Europe have been abolished. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Canada, Brazil and China are now pooled into 18 areas and all the other countries, which number over 150, into 17 areas. “After this change, all the support functions at Roche had to adapt to the new structures,” Adnan Tanglay adds.

Together with management and Human Resources, the AVR is now doing everything it can to ensure that these transformations are conducted with as much social responsibility as possible. In case of larger transformations, the AVR and the HR department ask the line managers to explain why the changes are necessary and how they will be implemented. Multiple consultations are held in the presence of the legal department. The AVR also interviews employees from the affected areas to learn more about the situation. The AVR then writes a statement addressed to the line managers, Human Resources and management, expressing its opinion and proposing alternative solutions to minimise the number of job reductions. When it receives the response one or two weeks later, this marks the end of the consultation for the AVR. The AVR’s statement, the response to it and a list of all the affected individuals are then sent to the cantonal authorities. This process can take four to six weeks.

To handle the flood of transformations, the AVR and Roche have introduced an accelerated process for smaller ones affecting less than 30 people, known as smart consultations. Consultations are held on a small scale and the AVR writes a brief statement. In addition, the legal department collects the documents for several transformations until a figure of 30 people is reached within 30 days, and then passes them on to the authorities. “This is partly to ensure that the affected employees and departments do not have to wait too long and partly to enable the proposed solutions to be implemented and the new roles created as quickly as possible,” Adnan Tanglay explains.

The AVR asks all employees to support their colleagues who have been affected by transformations as well as they can and offer substitution retirement arrangements if possible and appropriate. “Roche is to be commended for showing the courage to undertake restructuring measures on such a scale,” the AVR President Adnan Tanglay says, “but for those affected, of course, this is a very difficult situation, as it involves many cases of unknown hardship."

Transformationen 2