February 5, 2014 in Events (live blogging), HR Directors Business Summit 2014

Attracting retaining and developing top talent

Ken Jones & Arjen Vermazen, Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd


Great companies need great employees and great employees need great employers. This makes it important for companies to become an employer of choice and make sure that people feel a strong sense of belonging. This means that you truly need to put people at the heart of your business strategy (and spend as much time/care as much about people as about other elements of the business). People strategy needs to be the glue that holds everything together. Astellas deliberately have a Human Resources Asset review as people are their greatest asset (and greatest cost).


In 2006, Astellas faced big challenges (patent expiries & a focus on new products in new therapy areas). By 2013, they had doubled revenue and had increased headcount of 25%. Although it can be tempting to reduce headcount when you face challenges, Astellas believed that this is a time to keep the faith and invest in people. They have a well-defined company culture and an EVP (Employee Value Proposition).


When Astellas started on this journey, they benchmarked against other organisations and identified managing performance as a key differentiator. They created a new performance management process, including regular discussions (so that there are no surprises at performance reviews), and a performance review that looks at what was achieved, and how it was achieved. They ‘Your Voice, Our Future’ employee survey shows that they’ve moved into a much stronger position.


Their corporate values are ‘STAR’; Success-driven, Team-orientated, Adaptable, Respectful and these appear to be strongly supported by staff. The EVP (Employee Value Proposition) was delivered following a brand analysis, and with stakeholder input and it attempts to encapsulate their ¬†promise that they make as an employer. ¬†Key focus is helping people be engaged, enabled, and energised. There are a lot of other initiatives underway, including opening offices in places that are attractive places to work.


Leadership isn’t about a handfull of people, it is about everybody. Astellas believe that they’re seeing great results from people feeling a sense of shared ownership and being agile. A sense of shared ownership where everbody needs to perform is key.


(Looks like a good example of just doing the right things and seeing the business results.)

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