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Company: AstraZeneca/MedImmune, Gaithersburg, MD USA
Category: Employee Relations Team of the Year

Entry Title: AstraZeneca/MedImmune - Employee Relations as a Partnership Model

Team Essay:

Employee Relations (ER) within AstraZeneca and MedImmune (its global biologics research and development arm), is a critical business partner embedded in the Human Resources Team.

Originally formed in 2002, and expanding its operating model in 2017 to include support of MedImmune, the team supports the company’s pursuits in the discovery, development and
commercialization of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three main therapy areas - Oncology, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism and Respiratory.

One of AstraZeneca and MedImmune’s strategic priorities is to be a great place to work; recognizing that all our achievements are down to the people who work at AstraZeneca as well as our partners and collaborators.

Through the Employee Relations team, the organization both effectively and efficiently addresses concerns about performance and workplace behavior; has the right organizational policies to maintain a respectful work environment; and has successfully created and maintain a great place to work for all employees.

The ER Team are specialists in employee relations and employment law, and support over 12,000 employees and leaders within the United States. They facilitate conflict management, advise the organization in situations regarding performance concerns, workplace behavior, policy violations, and facilitate effective communications between and among employees. The ER team has done more than just advise the organization when something is going wrong, they support the organization through proactive measures to maintain an organizational environment that ensures all AstraZeneca/MedImmune employees are treated fairly and with respect.

Throughout 2017, the ER’s team mission is to ensure our work environment continues to thrive, live up to, and support our high performance and ethical culture. The Employment Practices Specialists have harmonized employment policies and educate the business on those policies. They serve as a key partner to our HR Business Partners (HRBPs) in addressing performance or workplace behavior related concerns. They also develop and deliver workforce training on key topics related to maintaining our organizational culture, such as Conflict Resolution training, and Employee Relations Fundamentals. Employee Relations Fundamentals is a presentation they deliver to leaders across the organization to educate the business on the importance of positive employee relations and the how to create and maintain it. In 2017, the ER team supported the harmonization of employee relations policies across AstraZeneca and MedImmune, which provides us with a common language about how we interact and work together across the whole of the organization and sets one standard for being a great place to work.

This partnership allows HRBPs to focus on driving strategic HR priorities while providing an unbiased perspective in addressing employee relations situations. One Director of Human Resources said, “the relationship we have with the Employment Practices Team is outstanding.

We are ‘attached at the hip’ with constant communication and I trust my partner completely in terms of dealing with our managers and employees directly on employee relations issues. I think the key is our ongoing communication, agreeing on approaches to specific scenarios, and being there for each other as thought partners. Because of having trusted partner to support our employee relations issues, I’ve had the chance to focus on more strategic Human Capital elements with the businesses I support – such as facilitating strategic business off sites, Workforce and future capability planning, and organizational transformations.”

In 2017, cases closed within an average of 23 days, demonstrating our commitment to resolve employees concerns quickly to maintain a respectful environment. We improved performance of employees involved in performance coaching with an exceptional 70% success rate.

It is a relentless pursuit of excellence to create a fair, respectful, and inclusive work environment that fosters trust, pride, commitment, and enjoyment in their work, their partnerships and the organization. The ER team has executed flawlessly in realizing their mission to support our bold ambition.

Team Summary

-In harmonizing Employment Relations policies between AZ and MedImmune, ER educated the business on policies like attendance, attire, discipline, performance management, nepotism, standards of employee conduct, and threats and violence.

-The most important piece is the trust built between the ER and HRBP team. Not all teams have this trusting relationship. That is due to the talent, expertise, and the ability of the ER team to follow through in any situation.

-The Time to Close/Cases Closed since the implementation of the Employee Relations Team is a clear data point on how we bring quick resolution to employee concerns, demonstrating our commitment to a great place to work for all employees.

-We utilize coaching prior to engaging an employee into performance improvement plans. Currently, we are at a 70% success rate utilizing coaching sessions to turn around poor performers to moderate performers, not even having to engage performance plans.

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Supporting Document