Learning and development

In 2021, we continued to focus on promoting a culture of curiosity and learning. This was the third year of our Go Big on Learning initiative, which involves a USD 100 million investment in addition to the normal annual training budget of USD 200 million.

Our aspiration is for every internal employee to spend 100 hours a year on learning. We achieved an average of 52.1 training hours per internal employee in 2021, broadly in line with the previous year.

Our focus on learning and development is being recognized by current and prospective employees. The score for learning engagement and growth in the OurVoice survey remained at an all-time high of 75 in 2021, compared to an industry benchmark of 71. In addition, opportunities for learning and career growth were cited by successful applicants as a leading reason for wanting to join Novartis.

16 000

Employees used a digital awareness hub

to enhance their knowledge and skills in data science, artificial intelligence and related areas

Learning requirements reflected the change to more flexible working practices as well as greater demand for digital skills to support our strategy. Across both LinkedIn Learning and Coursera, we registered a total of more than 47 000 active users and more than 105 000 courses completed in 2021. We also maintained access to the Coursera friends and family program for 15 000 users.

Approximately 16 000 employees used a digital awareness hub to enhance their knowledge and skills in data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and related areas. In 2021, training related to digital skills more than doubled from the previous year, based on an analysis provided by Coursera. Novartis was ahead of the industry benchmark in data analysis and other areas, according to Coursera.

Furthermore, we launched a new learning platform for 10 000 employees, primarily in our commercial operations, that uses AI to customize learning on digital skills based on an individual’s role and daily activities. The platform, which will be rolled out to the full Novartis organization in 2022, is intended to build new skills and capabilities to support our enterprise data and digital strategy.

In addition, we launched pilots involving around 15 000 people for two AI-powered platforms that give employees access to resources for career planning, learning and mentoring, as well as opportunities to join short-term projects to develop new skills. The aim is to help employees navigate their careers and build the skills they need to succeed at Novartis. Global rollout is planned for 2022.

Unbossed: learning to lead differently

Employees at conference (Photo)


Higher employee engagement
for teams reporting to senior leaders who completed the ULE program (percentage points vs. company benchmark)

The idea behind “unbossed” is that people are most creative and productive when they are empowered to pursue their ideas. We want Novartis leaders to provide clarity and accountability for their teams, remove obstacles, and empower others to reach their potential.

In 2021, more than 5 000 leaders took part in a development program called the Unbossed Leadership Experience (ULE), which provides them with the skills needed to drive our cultural transformation in an environment conducive to personal growth. We are now nearly halfway to meeting our ambition of bringing ULE to all 20 000 leaders at Novartis.

In an employee survey, teams reporting to senior leaders who completed the program showed higher results for engagement (3.8 percentage points), empowerment (2.9 percentage points), and feeling safe to speak up (3.6 percentage points) compared with the company benchmark. Teams working closely with ULE leaders were also more comfortable with experimentation and potential failure, according to a separate feedback process, suggesting they are becoming more open to innovation.