Leading healthcare company continues to hire and grow
MSD Ireland is innovating to meet the challenges posed by the current outbreak
Over 2,500 people are employed by MSD Ireland which has five sites in Cork, Carlow, Dublin (Swords and Leopardstown) and Tipperary.
When it comes to the biopharmaceutical industry, MSD is one of the titans. The company has had a presence in Ireland for over half a century, and enjoys a strong regional footprint, with five sites in Cork, Carlow, Dublin (Swords and Leopardstown) and Tipperary. The company employs over 2,500 people in Ireland and continues to increase headcount despite the current pandemic.
Unsurprisingly, for a company where innovation is critical, it has applied the same ingenuity to its selection and onboarding processes.
“Everyone involved in hiring across the organisation has been working hard to ensure it is business as usual,” says Maria Cullen, Talent Acquisition lead at MSD Ireland. She explains that “collaboration across different departments is key and makes it possible for our new virtual processes to take place for candidates and new employees.”
Cullen acknowledged that while some companies may be forced to pause recruitment for practical or resource issues, for MSD, hiring remains critical in order to meet business demands, as the company continues to grow and expand in Ireland.
While phone or Skype interviews have been necessary for candidates based abroad, social distancing has meant that this has quickly become the norm in recent weeks.
“We want to ensure a selection process that is both positive and supportive for our candidates. We designed and implemented a virtual approach at a very early stage of the current outbreak as health and safety is a key priority in all that we do. The challenge was to design a virtual journey which would support everyone to bring their best selves to the process and really help them shine,” says Cullen.
Collaboration and innovation
In collaboration with the leaders in the manufacturing sites and information technology partners, the HR and Learning and Development teams at MSD Ireland created an innovative and engaging virtual recruitment process designed to maximise the candidate experience from the initial selection process right through to onboarding. Cullen explains, “with the introduction of these new steps in the interview and onboarding process, our hiring managers embraced agile ways of working to quickly adapt.”
MSD was already creative when pitching ourselves as a great company to work for, and now this crisis has challenged us to be even more innovative
“This hasn’t been without its challenges, but the crisis meant that different functions came together swiftly,” says Trish Kavanagh, who is MSD’s global director for Learning & Development. She credits the success to the team of people who worked hard to make this happen in a very short timeframe.
According to Kavanagh, “MSD was already creative when pitching ourselves as a great company to work for, and now this crisis has challenged us to be even more innovative. It has made us work better and faster than ever before.”
“Traditionally, our employees would come to the site on day one and receive an overview of the company, gaining insight into what a typical working day would look like. We have now adopted a virtual experience. We have over 100 new employees across the four sites who participated in the virtual onboarding programme, and the feedback has been very positive to date.
“Each site has a ‘learning leader’ who is responsible for onboarding new employees and all sites work together to make sure we have an integrated, standard onboarding process. This ensures new employees joining Brinny, Carlow (pictured below), Ballydine or Dublin all get the same great experience,” Kavanagh explains.
“New employees complete online training modules as part of their onboarding. At least twice a day, they connect with each other and the learning leaders to discuss what they have learned from the online training modules, gaining a better understanding of the context and how it applies for them. That discussion and extra context improves the learning experience,” she says.
“We want to ensure a positive learning experience for our new employees. The fact that this experience is now virtual means we have to work hard to ensure that the experience is impactful, so new employees feel engaged and supported from day one, even with the physical distance,” Kavanagh states.
“MSD takes pride in offering our candidates a ‘best-in-class’ experience,” says Maria Cullen. “When we were developing the new virtual hiring process, we wanted to ensure the candidate experience was comprehensive and that we really supported everyone involved in the process. We believe we have achieved this but we are challenging ourselves to evolve it even further.”
[To explore career opportunities at MSD, visit jobs.msd.com/ireland]
Of course, pandemic practicalities may mean home offices are no longer sacrosanct spaces. MSD is more than aware of this and seeks to reassure prospective candidates that despite their reservations, remote interviewing can be conducted practically and successfully, and interview interruptions are par for the course.
“Life conditions have changed,” says Kavanagh. “It’s critical that we acknowledge the circumstances that our new employees are facing. They may have poor internet or be juggling home-schooling and it might be a less than optimal situation. We had to take all that into consideration as we were designing our programme.”
We really want our new colleagues to understand that the culture at MSD is energising, creative and inclusive
Cullen adds that this was also foremost in their minds when planning the remote interview process. “We have a very supportive culture in MSD and we want candidates to know that if interruptions occur during an interview, they shouldn’t worry or stress about them. Our hiring managers and interview panellists have the same issues and concerns as every interviewee in terms of balancing work and life. We believe that when people are comfortable in their own environment, and comfortable with the process, that’s when their personality shines through,” she says.
MSD is often found on the lists of best places to work, both nationally and internationally. Kavanagh says despite the current restrictions, “it’s still crucial to create a work environment where people are really excited and eager to contribute and make a difference.”
Crisis or no crisis, culture is critical, says Kavanagh. “Although our new employees are now onboarding remotely, we want them to feel welcomed and connected to their teams from day one and that has been at the heart of the process we’ve put in place. It’s also very much part of MSD’s culture and focus for all of our teams – ensuring we are genuinely connected and engaged though we may be working remotely.
“We really want our new colleagues to understand that the culture at MSD is energising, creative and inclusive and that we are all driven with the same purpose to provide life-saving medicines for patients.”
To explore career opportunities at MSD, visit jobs.msd.com/ireland