Company: Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Category: Employer of the Year - Pharmaceuticals
As Sunovion approaches its 10th anniversary in 2020, employees have recommitted to a set of refreshed, motivating values, including: Align, collaborate and win as one team and Serve and create value for patients. Antony Loebel, M.D., became President and CEO of Sunovion in April 2019, transitioning from Chief Medical Officer and bringing in- depth understanding of neuropsychiatric conditions and their burden on society. Dr. Loebel has guided Sunovion in advancing treatment of brain disorders to meet needs of patients, clinicians and care partners. During his tenure as CEO, Sunovion received FDA approval for a novel formulation of a medication to address Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Loebel also oversaw development of a novel treatment for patients with schizophrenia, receiving Breakthrough Therapy Designation from FDA. He led the company to achieve these milestones while navigating uncertain times and inspiring its more than 1,600 employees to maintain business continuity after moving to a remote working environment due to COVID- 19, while continuing to give back to their communities. Dr. Loebel places emphasis on fostering a culture at Sunovion where everyone focuses on patient- centricity by encouraging scientific freedom and calculated risk- taking. This collective focus has resulted in significant progress in neuropsychiatric R&D, which many companies have abandoned.
Approaching its pivotal 10th anniversary, Sunovion used 2019 into 2020 as a year to take its employee programs to the next level while fostering an environment where employees have what they need to thrive and contribute to the future to fulfill the company’s bold vision: Lead the way to a healthier world. This included aligning its recognition program around refreshed company values and introducing “a new blueprint for growth” career development program focused on organizational capabilities and aligned behaviors.
Executive Leadership Team member and Chief Human Resources Officer, Linda Arsenault, brought together a cross- functional group of employees to contribute to the evolving People Strategy, reevaluating and updating people practices aligned with the company’s purpose, shifting how employees view performance management as ongoing career development conversations, further empowering everyone to consider themselves as leaders including through participating in a new Sunovion Leadership Academy, and enhancing best- in- class total rewards programs to further support the health and well- being of employees. This was important during COVID- 19, when the company conducted pulse survey checks with employees, encouraged even greater work flexibility, and expanded relevant benefits while recognizing employees and teams for continuing to support each other and the community with a newly introduced “Extraordinary Times” badge, tied to rewards points. Additionally, Sunovion made strides to improve employee experience and bring greater impact to the business by advancing Diversity and Inclusion efforts over an intensive two- year period beginning in 2019 into 2020, including inviting employees to form a D&I Council with representation from across the business.
At the outset of the COVID- 19 situation, Sunovion immediately set priorities, including foremostly to ensure the safety and well- being of employees and their families, while enabling business activities in its new virtual work environment and implementing methodologies to support business objectives. While maintaining focus on communities in need, employees continued to carry out the corporate mission, focused on ensuring the betterment of health care and fuller lives of people worldwide. For example, the field- based organization demonstrated the value to serve patients and was ahead of peer companies in the pharmaceutical industry in deploying virtual strategies, such as tele- detailing and interactive virtual tools, to engage with physicians so they could get medicines and help to patients in need.
Committed to giving back where employees live and work, Sunovion mobilized to contribute to community relief efforts and assist with medical supply donations across the US, Canada and UK to support first responders, healthcare institutions and vulnerable populations. Additionally, Sunovion made a donation to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID- 19 Response Fund. These efforts motivated employees to step up, aligned with achieving a new “Extraordinary Times” badge. This became a mantra for the organization in 2020 to maintain business continuity while going above and beyond to support each other while serving others, reinforcing the evolving culture and commitment to people. This was in addition to community service efforts earlier in the year through the company’s Hands On program, which engaged employees in building stronger communities and reached more than 30,000 cumulative volunteer hours.
Employees participated in a video series to share what the refreshed values mean to them: Videos highlight “Align, collaborate and win as one team” and “Serve and create value for patients.”
The statement “Our Commitment During COVID- 19” and fact sheet developed for legislators reinforces the focus on resources for patients and CSR efforts. The fact sheet highlights Sunovion’s support for employees and their families during COVID- 19, including benefits and special services.
Announcement of the second year of Sunovion’s STEM program with the Advanced Math & Science Academy (AMSA) represents Sunovion’s ability to transition to a virtual environment, while continuing to serve community partners. The program offers Sunovion employees opportunities for skills- based volunteering, highlighted in the video provided in the press release.
The 2019 Hands On video demonstrates ongoing commitment to giving back to communities in which employees live and work. This is one of the most highly rated employee engagement programs at the company.
Press releases reinforce enabling employees to live the value “Serving and creating value for patients” represented by the JD Power certification of the Sunovion customer service program and advancement of the Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health initiative. A video shows Sunovion employees supporting the mental health community through a virtual walk.
Employee focus on advancing important medical treatments and fulfilling the vision to lead the way to a healthier world, encouraged by Dr. Loebel, is represented in the announcement of the FDA approval of the company’s medicine to address certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.