Learning & Development

Whether it’s helping invent the next breakthrough treatment or simply challenging and supporting one another for ongoing development, our culture is about applied curiosity.

The Global Learning and Development organization drives business performance by preparing our workforce to find ways to help the company serve patients. The primary focus is boosting our employee’s ability to accelerate growth, reimagining ways of working and improving operating model economics. This is accomplished by building the skills and capabilities of our workforce to accelerate talent, improve performance and mitigate risk through relevant continuous learning experiences. This includes, but is not limited to, building leadership and management skills, as well as providing technical and functional training to all employees.

The skill sets needed to continue supporting the company’s vision, mission and future are constantly evolving. Additionally, how our employees learn is continually changing. As a result, we continuously evaluate our organizational capability development needs aligned to our corporate strategy, as well as trends in employee development that are proven to drive business impact.

This allows us to focus on fostering a culture of continuous learning that leads to higher levels of performance. We are evolving how we design learning experiences, leveraging the science of learning. We are focusing on what the experience is like for the learner, ensuring it places them at the center and addresses their needs. This includes evaluating and leveraging new technologies that allow employees to share best practices and learn from each other, in addition to providing opportunities for hands-on learning.

We strive to enhance business performance across the enterprise. The Global Learning & Development organization works in partnership with business leaders across the company to identify areas where learning and development solutions can help drive business results and set goals and measurements accordingly.

In all learning and development programs, we ensure that diversity of thought, experience and ideas are recognized and contribute to an enriched learning environment.

We identify the learning needs of our globally diverse employee population through discovery of the various work environments and learner’s background and supporting their needs through inclusive content design, accessibility, delivery tools and innovative learning methods.

Compliance is an ongoing priority. Our partnership with Compliance and Meeting & Incentives World Wide helps us achieve our compliance goals. Examples include ensuring photography permission and release forms are in place; ensuring venues and locations comply with company security and compliance requirements; and tracking flights, arrangements and attendance of participants globally.

Programs and initiatives

Build the Best Teams & Talent

Build the Best Teams & Talent is a global program intended to help the organization learn, grow and achieve. Based on neuroscience, it gives employees practical strategies and tools they can use to effectively share and receive more frequent feedback from diverse stakeholders and increase the quality of performance conversations.

Management and leadership programs

Management Foundations is a comprehensive program that focuses on building core, common and critical knowledge and skills for new managers. Using a variety of learning methods, new managers are trained on what they need to know and do to be effective in their role and to establish foundational management skills.

In addition, we offer programs for experienced managers focused on areas like strategic planning, innovation and influencing others.

Team and individual development

We have programs that provide skill trainings and tools that support building and maintenance of effective teams, including Leading High Performing Teams, Virtual Teaming, Assessing Team Performance, Teaming Fundamentals and Insights Discovery.

In addition, individual developmental assessments may be used to identify strengths and developmental areas as a way to prepare employees for higher-level positions or changes in their current job. These assessments prioritize developing leaders that will create a positive work environment and motivate other employees to contribute to the company goals. Based on the employees’ behavior, personality or skills, and feedback, these assessments are used to create an action plan and individual development goals.

Key talent focus

We advance the learning and development of our global key talent at all levels of the organization to support the advancement of our talent pipeline and diversity and inclusion strategy.

The learning experiences are as follows:

General Management Acceleration Program (GMAP)
Our flagship, application-based program to develop future global, enterprise-wide leaders. The objective of GMAP is to create a robust global acceleration program for internal talent, providing the right experiences and learning opportunities to help meet our future business demand. Successful participants broaden their experience and perspective, enhance their leadership abilities and are well positioned to move into areas of greater responsibility following their rotations.

The Business Leadership Program
A global, nomination-based program designed to enhance both an individual’s leadership and business acumen skills. Areas of focus include: our company’s strategic context and how to integrate long-term plans with short-term action; value creation in financial and non-financial terms to increase ability to perform in the short-term and plan for the long-term; and ability to translate strategy into action to deliver business impact.

MSD Leadership Pathway
The MSD Leadership Pathway is the newest offering in the Key Talent portfolio that focuses on director-level key talent. The purpose is to develop individuals to be change makers who engender inclusion and trust, inspire experimentation, feedback, and learning and achieve aspirational business outcomes for MSD today and tomorrow.

The Women’s Leadership Program
A global, nomination program focused on enhancing key capabilities of women to ready their advancement into senior leadership ranks. Areas of focus include: strengthening the ability to navigate within the organization while maintaining an authentic leadership style; increasing cultural competence regionally; advanced skills in influencing and storytelling; advancing the ability to recognize and manage gender differences and subtle “micro-inequities” by leading through courageous action.

Diverse Leader Program (U.S. only)
This thought-provoking nomination program is an interactive leadership journey designed to create a safe place where participants can hone their leadership skills while exploring what it means to be a person of color in a leadership role within the company. While building leadership proficiency, participants will also investigate the similarities and differences of leaders from other racial and ethnic groups. Finally, employees will have the opportunity to deepen relationships with their sponsors and mentors through hands-on activities and conversations.

Enterprise Leadership Program
An exclusive experiential program leveraging some of the top academic business schools from around the world designed for our executive directors and associate vice president key talent. The purpose of the program is to prepare these leaders for the future and to increase our key talent pipeline and succession planning for critical roles with focus on critical leadership capabilities. These leaders are considered to have the highest potential to assume top enterprise leadership positions. Our company considers it a critical priority to prepare these leaders by making a major investment in their development. This audience has significant influence to drive productive change, to attract, retain, lead and develop diverse talent, and ultimately to drive business results. We view this talented group as change agents who can lead the organization into the future.

Executive acceleration experience
An inspiring and actionable learning experience designed to help our company’s senior leaders further embed and amplify their leadership capabilities. The experience involves small cohorts being immersed in a variety of leadership principles, looking outside the company for broader inspiration and devising experiments they can run with their teams. Leaders visit leading organizations, talk to inspiring leaders and entrepreneurs, all while learning new tools, skills and mindsets.

Tools and resources
Our current talent management system supports company-wide performance management, development, talent reviews and succession planning. It helps ensure that our workforce is aligned with company objectives and focused on their ongoing professional development. The system allows managers and employees to keep track of business and development priorities, performance ratings, career aspirations, job experiences, skills, language proficiency, certifications and education.

Managers and employees meet throughout the year to discuss progress and accomplishments against their priorities. Emphasis is placed on creating a culture of ongoing coaching and future-focused feedback. At year-end, colleagues assess the impact employees have had on the organization, their team and their own development. This leads to annual performance reviews of employees at all levels (except those subject to collective bargaining agreements) to guide company decisions relating to development, compensation and rewards.

Employee performance is measured, in part, by how well employees demonstrate our leadership behaviors. We seek to emphasize not just what an employee achieves, but also how he or she achieves it. It is critical to our company that the annual incentive bonus is determined, in part, by demonstration of our leadership behaviors.

Throughout the year, managers discuss with each of their employees his or her strengths and development opportunities to align on ways to grow capabilities and skills.

Leadership Development Center
The Leadership Development Center is a website that features videos, articles, program announcements and resources for leaders and managers. Resources are aligned to our leadership behaviors, professional competencies and functional competencies, and are available in the following formats: “on-demand” web-based modules, classroom programs, articles, books (including audio books), webcasts and suggestions for “on-the-job” development activities.

Our partners
Through careful consideration, partnerships have been formed with global diverse thought leaders to support the Key Talent Portfolio. We work with these external partners to provide the highest quality and impactful learning experience.

Working in partnership with others, including:
  • General Management Acceleration Program: ?What If! Consulting, part of (Accenture) and Duke Corporate Education
  • Business Leadership Program: Duke Corporate Education
  • MSD Leadership Pathway: Saïd Business School and the University of Oxford
  • Women’s Leadership Program: Cornell University
  • Diverse Leader Program: Center for Creative Leadership
  • Executive Acceleration Experience: ?What If! Consulting part of (Accenture)

The company has won multiple awards for programs that elevate our employees’ capabilities and skills. Chief Learning Officer magazine awarded us a Learning in Practice, Bronze Excellence in Partnership Award, for our Management Foundations Program. This award recognizes learning leaders who demonstrate excellence in the design and delivery of workforce learning and development programs.

In addition, we received the Verdantix International EHS Innovation Award for innovation and impact in our Manufacturing division’s Safe by Choice program for the use of an artificial intelligence powered micro-learning platform. The program has resulted in a dramatic improvement in safety training across sites globally.

We also received four Brandon Hall Excellence awards in three categories. These awards recognize organizations around the world that have successfully deployed programs, strategies, modalities, processes, systems and tools that have achieved measurable results. These awards included:

  • Two Gold Excellence in Technology awards
    • Best Advance in Leadership Simulation Tools for the Business Leadership Program, and,
    • Best Advance in Online Coaching Tools for the Human Health Virtual Reality Coaching Toolkit Simulation
  • Gold Excellence in Leadership Development for Best Unique or Innovative Leadership Development Program for the Diverse Leader Program
  • Bronze Excellence in Talent Management for Best Advance in Corporate Culture Transformation, for the Business Leadership Program

Performance data

Training and education2016201720182019
Total course completions for all employees (in millions)
Hours of training for all employees (in millions)
Average course completions per employee60484355
1Based on average of 30 minutes per course.
Performance reviews20152016201720182019
Middle management100%100%100%100%100%
Line supervisors100%100%100%100%100%
1"Executives" refers to the first two levels below the chief executive officer.
2Includes all "non-managers" (previously "individual contributors") who are not subject to a collective bargaining agreement (unions).
Promotion metrics12019
1Breakdown by gender, of all regular employees promoted during the fiscal year. “Regular employees” is defined as full and part-time employees only.
Key talent programsPost-Program RetentionLateral MovesPromotions
General Management Acceleration Program (Cohorts 1-5) (n=69)94%14%86%
Business Leadership Program – For graduates who completed the program 12 months ago or longer (n=590)91%44%28%
Diverse Leader Program 2018 (n=25)96%24%40%
Diverse Leader Program 2019 (n=25)100%24%12%
Women’s Leadership Program – For graduates who completed the program 12 months ago or longer (n=509)77%58%32%
Enterprise Leadership Program 20181 – For graduates who completed the program 12 months ago or longer (n=447)82%60%33%
1Program was paused during 2019.