Lilly Pharmaceuticals – Engaging Employees


Lilly is a global healthcare company responsible for major health care advances including insulin and the polio vaccine. The company was founded more than one hundred years ago and is committed to discovering and of bringing life-changing medicines to those who need them.

In 2012/2013, the Australian pharmaceutical industry was caught in a negative cycle. It was low due to the flattening of sales growth combined with falling employment and lower clinical trial activity.

Lilly ANZ recognised that it was unique in its ability to service customers better than its competitors.

Lilly needed to get employees on board with this direction and reinvigorate them with a passion for customers. It recognised that increasing employee understanding of the plan and what they needed to do to deliver against it was critical to building their confidence and making the cultural shift.


To inform the communication strategy, opr mapped the primary behaviour drivers and barriers based on employee research. One of the critical success factors identified was the need to demonstrate immediacy and progress against a plan with five year targets. Survey feedback also indicated people had heavy workloads, so it was important to reinforce how the plan priorities were addressing the challenges.

The team’s approach focused on inspiring commitment to Destination 2018 by demonstrating brilliance at Lilly. A Brilliance in Action series focusing on what it means to be brilliant at Lilly in the eyes of customers (including health care professionals, payers and patients) was rolled out. Tactics included leadership story posters, a D18 EDM, development of core brilliance behaviours and recognition cards.

The program was focused on ensuring employees’ understanding of the plan extended to the initiatives supporting the four core priorities, and how these related back to their work. Tactics included reinvigorating the monthly all team meetings and a quarterly progress update map.

The program focused on supporting senior leaders by skilling them in the art of authentic, powerful communication. A workshop with the leadership team was held mid-year which focused on personally identifying the specific actions it was taking to deliver against one of the four core plan priorities. A key output of this session was a leadership video.

Underpinning this approach were clear and well-thought through messages, communication principles and the creation of a visual identity reflecting immediacy, direction, clarity, collaboration and focus.


The results showed that by the end of 2014, employees had confidence in the progress of the journey with nine out of every 10 employees indicated they agreed/strongly agreed with the direction. There was also a positive increase in Lilly’s people sense of belonging, rising four NPS points since 2012.

In addition, 91% strongly agree/agree they understand the five year plan more fully and 82% strongly agree/agree that they see the whole affiliate aligned on the vision and working together. Verbatim comments from pulse checks indicate a solid understanding of the direction and a commitment to reaching the 2018 goal.