Real Stories: Enabling Real Business Outcomes Through Employee Engagement



By Jean Lee

General Manager

Every month, we share a Real Story to celebrate the joint success of a working partner who has transformed their organisation through various OD interventions. This month, we share about the deliberate steps that our partner, one of the Big Four Pharmaceutical companies in the world, took to enhance their engagement culture for business sustainability.


Their OD Convictions:

People make a difference. With approximately 100,000 employees operating in more than 100 countries, our partner recognised the immense value that an engaged workforce could bring to its business, amidst the very fast-paced and dynamic context that they were operating in.

The catalyst for this change came from the General Manager of the Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei office, who recognised that there were issues within the leadership team that suggested a lack of engagement with the wider organisation. She saw a group of leaders that was struggling to come together as a team, as what defined their success was the performance of their individual business units. At the same time, there was indication that employees at the other levels were not being engaged fully; according to the results of an organisation-wide Employee Engagement Survey.


The OD Journey:

PACE was engaged as an external consultant to conduct in-depth diagnosis to pinpoint the reasons for the weak engagement. More than 300 employees were asked for their honest feedback about the leadership team and the organisation through 20 employee insight sessions. The consolidated inputs revealed that the low engagement level was attributed to poor engagement by the leadership team.

The lack of employee engagement contributed to other issues. For example, there was little collaboration within the Business Units. The organisation’s marketing and branding plans were created by marketers who had no interaction with the other teams, which was clearly not an ideal way of operating since the collaterals were to be a tool for the sales team to effectively conduct business.

Moreover, no serious thought had been given to the long-term sustainability of the organisation.

Succession planning was an issue as well and this meant that there was no pipeline of managers and supervisors ready to assume a leadership role whenever a vacancy arose. As a result, internal promotion to top management roles was not common, impacting employee morale as they felt like they were not given ample opportunities for career progression.

It became apparent that multiple changes had to be made to engage the leadership team immediately, so that they could form the guiding coalition to lead change efforts. The following interventions were rolled out with PACE in partnership:

  • Executive coaching for a senior leader, using a world renowned leadership framework
  • A 2-step management team programme to strengthen the leadership team as a driving force for change
  • Building collective leadership credibility by:
  1. Building trustworthy behaviours among the management team.
  2. Establishing a platform for leaders to share insights and challenges within the team, at the same time forming a community of learning of best practices from each other.



Within a year and a half into the journey, another engagement survey was rolled out and the results were astounding - The overall engagement score increased by 6% and there was an increase in the engagement scores of all other components as well. Other results experienced by the team include:

Leadership: There were higher levels of engagement and trust between the leadership team and the employees, and also an increased effectiveness of the leadership team.

  • Clarity: There were also greater clarity and empowerment from the employees’ perspectives.
  • Collaboration: Better communication was observed across teams and functions.
  • Customers: Strategic focus on long-term organisational success through stakeholder management.

With the help of an energised leadership team, our partner has managed to build up trust and engagement within the organisation, to the point where employees feel empowered to live out the organisation’s values. A stark difference in the behaviours of employees was observed - by empowering them and reinforcing the level of trust, employees feel at ease voicing out their opposing views respectfully. Such valuable contributions from employees at every level of the organisation is what is needed for organisational effectiveness.



With their success admired and recognised by counterparts in the region and the global HQ, the journey taken by our partner was made into an internal case study and circulated for learning within the entire organisation worldwide. By engaging in stakeholder management, our partner has been able to stay in touch with its external environment, and thus their customers. More specifically, it makes way for strategic decision making that will benefit them in the long term.

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