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How investing in career experience cultivates progress and fun in the workplace

7/22/2023

Nick Holmes, Global Head of Career Experience, reveals how revolutionizing the employee experience is central to cultivating a people-led culture that unites our global workforce and empowers teams to imagine a healthier world and create the connections to make it happen.

According to recent research by Management Consulting firm McKinsey, learning and development (L&D) can help build a values-based culture so employees around the world feel more connected to each other and the organization. The efforts of leaders driving L&D must incorporate and embed the broader vision of the organization, creating a community of people motivated by a unified purpose.

In 2022, our Career Experience (CXP) team at Avalere Health is transforming how learning and professional development operate and augment the experience of every team member across our global company.

“Careers are experiences. The CXP team’s mission is to provide every employee—from new hire to long-standing member—a personalized and purpose-driven career where they feel valued and have opportunities to progress,” explained Nick Holmes, Global Head of CXP.

Creating this holistic and personalized experience involves procuring data about each individual’s experience. The CXP team collected this through company-wide surveys, listening exercises, onboarding data, exit interviews, localized employee experience workshops, and small focus groups.

“We considered the entire life cycle of an employee rather than just the specific way they learn or are trained,” said Nick.

“When I joined the organization in May 2021, there was very little data to tell the story of why some people stayed and others left. Now, we have the data about the employee experience from start to finish. And we used all of that information to design something that, at its core, is special and personalized for every single person in the company.”

Building a personalized, tech-forward, career experience

In a 2018 survey, Deloitte reported that 44% of respondents said they needed to update their skills “continually,” and more than 90% of respondents said they needed to upskill at least once a year to work effectively in a digital world.

“We know that technology is going to get us where we want to be twice as fast,” said Nick. “When people talked about a career development plan 5 to 10 years ago, it involved a PowerPoint presentation or a piece of paper with boxes to tick. With the introduction of our new online career experience platforms, that has been flipped dramatically, and the process of upskilling is now available whenever someone wants it.”

The CXP team introduced four platforms this year: Fuel50, Coursera, High5, and Connect.

“We are in the process of embedding these tools into our working practices and ensuring the unique investment and experience is felt by people at every level of the company, so they feel connected to the business and know they matter. Everyone from the CEO to our interns should feel seen and have a personalized career experience,” said Nick.

An approach to career advancement that benefits every employee

Fuel50 is a new AI-driven career development platform that facilitates quarterly career and performance enablement conversations, encourages rapid feedback on specific skills and competencies, standardizes transparency around career journeys, increases mobilities and personalization, and overall revolutionizes the career experience at Avalere Health.

As each person identifies their personal values, career engagers, and work style on the platform, they receive personalized insights to help articulate their needs to their manager. They can also find and learn from others with different roles and skills across the organization, look into what skill gaps might be helpful to address to advance their position, and consider what career pathways they might be interested in.

“Fuel50 elevates the time someone spends with their manager by facilitating a quarterly performance review, supporting career conversations through the variety of insights, skill assessments, and career pathways, and encouraging everyone to update their goals and objectives on a regular basis,” said Nick.

Once an individual becomes aware of a skill gap, the next step requires a skilled transformation platform that can help them acquire those skills and the knowledge they need to grow. This follows a growing trend, fueled by evidence, that employees desire a non-linear approach to career development. Rather than a set path, individuals want a personalized experience where career progression and development is a shared responsibility between an individual, their manager, and their employer.

24-hour access to on-demand learning, on us

As part of our move to providing the career experiences our team members require, Avalere Health has partnered with Coursera, a world-class online learning platform with 8,000+ courses from top universities and companies around the world. Avalere Health is integrating every skill listed in Fuel50’s archive with a course in Coursera. With a license available for every employee across Avalere Health, anyone looking to improve a skill they see on Fuel50—whether to help them on their path to another role or to upskill in an area of interest—can access a course to help them do exactly that in Coursera.

“In 2021, Avalere Health saw over 400 people undertaking live learning programs. What we have created through this personalized approach is an integrated, comprehensive, and coordinated system where people can find and take a training opportunity any time they want it, through the aggregation of our internal skill sets and needs in Fuel50 with external courses on Coursera. The system provides personalized learning recommendations based on the learner’s needs and interests,” said Nick.

“While people are encouraged to create space and time to upskill during work hours, it is also a benefit we offer our multi-faceted and passionate teams outside of their 9-5. That means, if someone wants to learn Japanese with their family on Sundays, they can take a 20-minute vocabulary course on Coursera together, on us. And that’s the key—it’s a new world of learning we want to open up and give everyone access to so they can learn whatever they want, whenever they want to learn it.”

Recognition where it counts

As people learn and grow and improve, it’s important to ensure they are engaged, appreciated, and awarded. High5, powered by Nectar, is a new platform to express appreciation and recognition for Avalere Health ‘s global work force. It involves rapid gratitude, a rewards system, and social engagement, all aligned and underpinned by our organizational values. As we live and breathe those values and our purpose, we get closer to that purpose-filled experienced,” said Nick.

“It takes seconds to give appreciation and make someone feel good at work through High5, after which they can take their pick of what they want to spend their rewards on directly on the platform, including Amazon, Starbucks, and Nike gift cards.”

“To bring it all together is our new platform, Connect, powered by Thrive. This new learning experience and internal communications hub is where everyone will find personalized messages and content based on their team, capability, and location to help them do their work more effectively,” explained Nick.

Connect allows people to share their knowledge and perspectives with others around the business, recommend content to their colleagues, and a multitude of other ways of connecting. To save people’s time scrolling and skimming through dozens if not hundreds of emails, Teams chats, and channels, all information will live centrally on Connect. Positioned to be easy to access in the workflow, the platform will connect all parts of the career experience ecosystem.

Embracing a learning culture at every turn

An organization’s culture is made up of many microcultures produced and developed within teams and between individuals throughout the business. Our collective culture is a melting pot of these different ways of working and beliefs, habits, and behaviors. The CXP team is central to creating this environment and facilitating the connections that make the work more fulfilling, help employees feel supported and psychologically safe, and make sure everyone is enjoying what they’re doing.

It’s a new world of learning, and we want to open up and give everyone access to it so they can learn whatever they want, whenever they want to learn it.

“But the work doesn’t stop there. Going forward, we need to constantly listen to our people and act on their feedback, making sure they’re heard and iterating on that process, so we are always working to improve people’s experiences. The idea of creating a learning culture means there is a constant state of improvement in process. Whereas this responsibility is often pushed to the People team or individual managers, Avalere Health has a full team dedicated to this process, so we can do it faster and better and truly make a difference,” Nick explained.

From Ted Talks featuring colleagues sharing their passions to STRETCH sessions bringing in external experts who extend our skills and ideas, the STEPS program for our new Medical Writers, and Diversity Dialogues that bring greater awareness and inclusivity around diverse and intersectional topics, there are a number of learning opportunities available to the Avalere Health community.

With about 30% of Learning and Development (L&D) content created by subject-matter experts within the agency, Avalere Health is able to encourage collaboration, reward individual contribution, and give a voice and platform to individuals throughout the organization for others to engage and connect with.

“We’re lucky we have such a diversity of roles and people in the organization. They have such wonderful and interesting perspectives that help create connections around the business and share knowledge,” said Nick.

A workplace grounded in compassion

Avalere Health aims to empower every individual within the organization to develop, grow, and thrive because people are at the heart of our business. Investing in the development and happiness of our employees ensures we deliver better products and services to our clients, patients, and healthcare professionals.

Our values are embedded in and underpin every platform and initiative. We tie an individual’s personal goals on Fuel50 to their recognition and appreciation through High5 and align this with our core values. To drive impact and purpose for Avalere Health employees, these values must also connect to each of them.

“Out of the most frequently ranked personal values people chose on Fuel50, the top one is kindness. Ultimately, people want to work in a place where good and kind people work. The next ones are reliability, trustworthiness, helpfulness, and integrity. Our workforce doesn’t want to work for just any company in the business; they want to work for a compassionate company that embodies these values. I think it says a lot that they’re here at Avalere Health, and we want to make sure this continues to be the place they want to work,” said Nick.

“We wanted to go beyond the traditional approach to L&D because our product is our people. Our people love what they do, and we want them to love what they do here, at Avalere Health. At the end of the day, it should be fun, and we’re trying to inject more of that back into people’s work lives.”

Find out more about our career experience initiatives and our inclusive company culture here.

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