The Winner: Edelman Hong Kong: Innovation from the Heart – Janssen Pharmaceuticals

In 2015 Janssen decided to build a stronger, more focused R&D organisation in China that operated as one team. Its objective was simple: be the country’s leading healthcare R&D organisation. To achieve this, it needed to unify scientific and technical expertise, pulling together employees from historically fragmented operations.

Employees were confused by the new strategy and their roles within it. They were unsettled by constant change. And they felt disconnected and undervalued by the wider organisation.

But, when Edelman questioned them, the employees also said they were proud of the country’s medical tradition and wanted to write the next chapter in China’s long list of medical innovations.

Edelman set about deepening the organisation’s engagement with its 300-plus  employees, building a common sense of purpose and belonging aligned with the company’s vision and connecting the R&D employees with relevant stakeholders both within China and across the company.

Edelman focused on a uniquely Chinese concept that was deeply connected to medicine, a philosophy that states: “All diseases originate within people’s hearts and minds. So does the cure.”

Its “Innovation from the Heart” campaign embodied this concept. But it wasn’t enough to simply tell people about it; they had to live it by sharing ideas and stories that defined the heart of China R&D and celebrated its identity.

The campaign targeted all China R&D employees across four locations and at all levels, with a focus on the Extended Leadership Team, identified as a key driver for the future of the organisation. It used a dedicated campaign website, videos, digital documents, posters, social media and live staff meetings.

Edelman shied away from the traditional top-down approach – employees said they were already bombarded by executive communications. Instead, it invited them to shape their own experience and participate in a competition: they were asked to submit an innovative idea that would benefit all or part of the China R&D organisation, one aligned with the overall goal of providing better healthcare for society. They were also asked to tell a personal story about what motivated them at work, captured in a short film. In six months, the campaign achieved a 100 percent participation rate among the Extended Leadership Team and a broader participation of over 50 percent. The competition attracted 22 team entries and 44 individual submissions.

The campaign website was widely retrieved and the feedback showed perceptions had changed. As one employee put it: “It brings us together. It brings every function together. So that I think I have better connection with the other teams and better understanding towards the organisation.”

The award was presented to Edelman Hong Kong’s Mirjam Achtoven (above left) and Virginie Serre (above centre) by Gold Standard Awards judge Dr Mark Michelson (above right)