Case Study: Novartis
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Case Study: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Community Partnership Day
A Study in Corporate Team Building Through Volunteerism
On April 24, 1996, shareholders approved the proposed merger of Ciba-Geigy, Ltd. and Sandoz Ltd. to form Novartis AG, a global leader in Life Sciences. To mark the occasion of the first anniversary of shareholder approval, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation U.S., with headquarters in New Jersey, decided to focus on volunteerism and community collaborations. It christened April 24, 1997, as "Community Partnership Day."
The Company saw Community Partnership Day as a launch for Novartis’ continuing dedication to volunteerism. It would give the new corporation an opportunity to bring employees throughout the company together, working toward a common goal. It would also provide Novartis with valuable input for future commitments.
• The key challenge was to pull all activities together in five weeks.
• Making sure that activities were equally available and exciting for employees at Novartis’ three sites; and determining alternative rainy day activities.
• Include activities for the Field Force, our sales force located around the country.
• Blending Take Our Children to Work activities into the day’s events in a meaningful way.
The Berry Ecke Associates Approach
I. Pre-event activities
We contacted literally scores of area agencies and organizations to become a part of Community Partnership Day, either for off-site volunteer activities or to take part in on-site fairs in East Hanover, Summit and Suffern. Agencies with ties to either Sandoz or Ciba were all among those invited to participate. Once an agency indicated a need for volunteers, we determined the optimal number of volunteers necessary and any specific agency needs (paint, etc.). Committee members conducted an on-site visit to determine if there were any particular problems associated with the activity. (For instance, we needed to be careful about volunteering to paint ceilings because of potential danger for employees.)
• We assigned team captains for each activity, and they became our point of contact.
• We developed a logo and designed banners, posters, T-shirts which were printed and distributed by Novartis volunteers.
• CEO Wayne Yetter and the Executive Committee played an integral role in the day’s events. Their visible presence further reinforced the importance of volunteerism to Novartis. The committee developed itineraries and scheduled the CEO and the Executive Committee to serve lunch at Community Soup Kitchen.
• We developed activities to coordinate with Take our Children To Work Day, purchasing children’s science films for viewing in the auditorium and creating special T-shirts with Take Our Children To Work Day. Perhaps the most popular event was to include a Fair table in the cafeterias, complete with drawing materials, for children to create pictures for patients at The Children’s Specialized Hospital. The Hospital was most appreciative of the cheerful display that resulted from this activity. As an additional activity option, children over nine were invited to accompany their parents to the Community Food Bank.
• We included the Field Force by contacting national agencies and sending lists of 800 numbers to the Field Force. Our recommendation here was to take April 24 or the most appropriate day to volunteer for the organization of choice.
• We also coordinated a volunteer recognition effort, creating display posters listing all Novartis employees currently involved in volunteer activities. The posters were a star attraction!
II. On Community Partnership Day
We implemented previously defined "troubleshooting" procedures to be sure buses were coordinated and agency needs were met (both off-site and at on-site Fairs). Since the morning dawned rainy and cool, we made "rain-out" decisions and implemented alternative activities, as necessary. By afternoon, most employees were more than willing to brave potential sprinkles to fulfill our commitments. Committees kept in touch with team captains via cell phones and on-site visits. All the while, our AV team was following a pre-determined route to capture the day’s highlights on film. We also assigned people to cover the event for In Pharma, our corporate newsletter.
III. Post Event:
With Novartis Communications, we developed, distributed and tallied evaluation forms for agencies, committee captains and employees-at-large. We contacted agencies to solicit requests for ongoing activities, and to re-schedule those few activities postponed because of the weather.
To publicize upcoming volunteerism-related events, we utilized the fabulous photos from Community Partnership Day on a 6’ x 8’ lobby display, which travels to our various sites along with the Community Partnership Day video.
The scope of the planned activities provided Novartis employees with ample opportunities to take part on some level, interacting with fellow employees and community agencies in the process.
• 74 community-based agencies participated in on-site Volunteer Fairs.
• 20 community-based agencies participated in off-site activities.
• 400 employees and 28 children traveled to off-site agencies to paint rooms, read to children, plant trees and flowers, do "spring clean-up," paint and restore theater props, serve meals, play with hospitalized youngsters, and sort and stock food.
• The cafeteria provided 120 meals for the Soup Kitchen in Morristown.
• Collection Drives, resulting in overflowing bins, were held for the following organizations:
– Lions Club
– Food Bank
– Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter
• 24 employee team captains oversaw transport on five buses and 15 vans.
• There was a high level of employee participation in the Volunteer Fairs held in each cafeteria.
• The Community Food Bank has requested ongoing Novartis participation and, as a result of an employee survey, Novartis will provide buses on a regular basis starting in early 1998.
• Participating organizations gained new volunteers (i.e., Senior Services, Junior Achievement, Natural Resources Conservation Service).
• Overwhelming agency response has resulted in Novartis commitment to an additional day off per year to volunteer for the organization of an employee’s choice.
• Evaluation forms to participating agencies, team captains and a random selection of employee volunteers has provided valuable input for future volunteerism endeavors
• Employee pride in Novartis, as indicated by on-site interviews and evaluation form results, reached a new high.
• The lobby display includes a suggestion box for feedback from employees for next year, as well as a sign-up mechanism for those interested in volunteering as committee members.
• The Children’s Specialized Hospital was able to display dozens of cheerful children’s drawings as a result of CPD.
• Community Partnership Day ’98 is in the planning stages; Novartis employees are enthusiastically behind this ongoing effort. (NOTE: General Colin Powell, having heard about the massive effort of volunteerism, participated in the next Community Partnership Day with a personal appearance and speech and attendance at a reception for local business leaders and government officials.)
• Take Your Child To Work Day blended so well with CPD, that Novartis plans to keep the tradition going ? even though April 24 will only rarely coincide with the national Take Your Child To Work Day.
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