Sanofi on supercharging your talent agenda
Here’s how to attract and retain talent in this challenging labor market.
Why You Should Care
Sanofi is hyper focused on internal mobility.
The pharma giant is rethinking its performance and potential models.
Christine Vaccola, Sanofi's global head of talent management, shares some insights ahead of her appearance at UNLEASH America 2023.
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For the past two years, employees across the world have been quitting their jobs in droves.
They no longer want to work for companies that are purely focused on profits; they want to work for organizations with a clear purpose, that care about their wellbeing and offer career development opportunities.
Being a purpose-led company is very important to French pharma giant Sanofi. Through continued innovation, Sanofi’s ambition is to transform the practice of medicine and turn the impossible into possible for patients across the world.
“Our rallying cry is ‘pursue progress, discover extraordinary’,” Christine Vaccola, global head of talent management at Sanofi, tells UNLEASH. That progress doesn’t happen without Sanofi’s talented employees who come from all over the world working towards the same mission.
This purpose-driven approach came to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees were asking for more wellbeing support, and Sanofi stepped up – for Vaccola this really demonstrates how “Sanofi cares about our people”.
“Healthy minds and bodies, healthy working culture, healthy financials – we need to support all our employees so they can bring the best of their whole selves to work”, she adds.
Treat your employees as adults
Sanofi’s focus on purpose may help the company attract and retain talent, but it’s still facing similar challenges to other companies in today’s competitive labor market.
In this context, Vaccola’s team at Sanofi has been focusing on “supercharging our talent agenda”.
Central to this is “treating our employees as adults” and encouraging more open, transparent conversations between employees and their managers.
Sanofi is creating “a culture where feedback is welcome, particularly when it is done in a constructive, forward-looking manner”, says Vaccola.
The company encourages employees to drive their own career, and own the discussions around regular, structured, meaningful development check-ins with their manager.
Sanofi also trains managers to give feedback that is aligned with the employee’s career goals.
Sanofi is “looking at a spirit of continuous development” to fuel their talent pipeline, according to Vaccola, whose team has recently intensified their focus on internal mobility.
So, in 2021, the pharma giant became one of the first to launch Workday’s talent marketplace platform.
“It’s more than a global job board – it is a real Career Hub” that matches people up with mentors, jobs and short-term projects across the entire company, Vaccola explained. In its first year, 900 people took part – Sanofi has around 100,000 employees globally.
Sanofi is also launching a global recognition platform that supports a culture change: one that ensures “people feel seen, connected, and appreciated for their contribution”.
All this means that “across the company, we’re becoming less reliant on external candidates and doing more to promote our internal talent, because we have a lot of great people with a lot of potential,” said Vaccola.
Linked to this, Sanofi is thinking about the “alumni experience” as part of the wider talent journey.
“We’re…becoming more consistent about building bridges with people who got their start at Sanofi, who are going elsewhere to try something new, and who we hope to welcome back one day”, notes Vaccola.
From performance to potential
Sanofi has embraced a new talent model that promotes transparency around how it assesses ‘potential’.
“In the past, we had leadership models, [that] like most companies, [were] reserved for the top leaders,” explains Vaccola. “But that’s not enough”, particularly given Sanofi’s inclusive, purpose-driven culture.
The company applies guiding principles of top leadership development programs to all aspiring leaders – whether they’re individual contributors, mid-level people managers or senior leaders.
Just a year after launching their new model, Sanofi saw a 16% increase in the number of employees identified on a succession plan.
“We’ve really focused on the difference between performance and potential,” explains Vaccola. “Some people are very well suited to their role and could maybe move laterally to keep having that impact, but, right now, we don’t see them moving into a people-manager role.”
While it might prompt a difficult feedback discussion, it’s not about closing doors.
“We do this every year, so it’s not a ‘forever label’”, Vaccola adds. “Our model has really helped us to match people with opportunities that are right for them, and the future of the business.
“There has been a lot of enthusiasm; it’s re-energized a lot of managers around the topic of development”.
Want to find out more about Sanofi’s potential model? You’re in luck, Vaccola is going to speaking at UNLEASH America, 26-27 April 2023.
Talking about the conference, Vaccola shares: “I’m super excited to meet colleagues in the field, and to be able to swap stories about success and challenges. No-one’s perfect and there’s a lot we need to get done”.
The International Festival of HR is back! Discover amazing speakers from the world of HR and business at UNLEASH America on 26-27 April 2023.
Allie is an experienced business journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.