Responsible Business, Better Future
Mobile Menu

BITC Ireland (Abbott) - Life Navigation

Added on 22-03-2013




BITC Ireland



Business challenge

Abbott in Ireland and Norway participate in the annual ‘Best Workplaces' survey, with results informing workplace strategies. The 2007 survey revealed that employees value work-life balance, an important element to energize our business as well as enhance employee recruitment and retention. Managing workloads and prioritising projects were challenges for staff as work is task-oriented. Specifically, Life Navigation addresses:

  • Recognizing each employee has different energy rhythms and creating flexibility to work during the most effective times or in an energising and inspirational environment (not necessarily the office).
  • Creating productive work environments where interruptions are minimised.
  • Time management for better productivity. Life Navigation teaches time skills for both during and outside of work.


  • Abbott benchmarked best practices across Europe and identified a Life Navigation organisation in Denmark to create an innovative programme for Abbott, comprising a 15-hour course, physical changes to office space, and office culture changes. The programme challenges the industrial mindset where to be seen is to be working. Life Navigation aims to empower people to take responsibility for managing their time, design an individualised space and time for work, and create social acceptance for different work rhythms.
  • A successful pilot in 2008 led to all employees across 4 divisions completing Life Navigation by September 2009.
  • There are five sessions in the Life Navigation course (delivered in half-day increments) that: Empower employees to prioritise their work-life balance; Set personal life goals; Provide time management tools; Break stereotypes on office "presenteeism"; and Respect different styles of work (i.e. working 11-7 instead of 9-5, or in environments that provide energy and inspiration).
  • Abbott has committed 1,800 hours or 2½ days per employee, for staff to participate in Life Navigation programme. Financial resources for meeting space, external consultant, and computer and IT upgrades for working remotely are facilitating a Life Navigation culture. Other investments include videos, posters, and Ipods to every employee for pod-casting meetings.
  • Abbott Ireland's annual All Employee Day in 2009 was devoted to Life Navigation, a departure from the typical focus on business performance. Sessions included "Personal Development," "Toddler Management," and relaxation/massage. One employee said, "I hope that I am expressing fully how much I enjoyed the whole experience. It was innovative, thought provoking, and great fun."


  • Processes, systems, and documentation need to reflect the new work-life rhythms in our organization including: Policies and procedures; Employee Handbook; Forms and templates; and IT connectivity (wireless / laptop upgrades). A cross-functional strategic team will review and update these processes.
  • We are working to enable traditionally office-based employees, such as customer service, to have the opportunity to implement all aspects of Life Navigation including working remotely.
  • Maintaining the Life Navigation culture and keeping it fresh. Six months after completing the Life Navigation course, employees will have a follow-up session with the consultant to reinforce its implementation.
  • Spread Life Navigation to other Abbott affiliates.

Challenges/Lessons learned:

Abbott Ireland:

  • Reduced employee turnover, falling from 11.4% to 4.3% between September 2007 (Life Navigation start) and December 2008.
  • Named to 2009 "Best Workplaces in Ireland" list for seventh consecutive year.
  • Received 2009 "Wellbeing Award" from Great Place to Work Institute Ireland.
  • 20% increase in employees believing "people are encouraged to balance their work life and their personal life" at Abbott.
  • Increased employee morale. One employee said: "Knowing that Abbott are proactively encouraging employees to concentrate on getting a balance in their lives is a very positive message and makes me proud to work in such an organisation."

Abbott Norway:

  • In "Best Workplaces" ranking, Abbott went from 9th in 2009 to 5th in 2010.
  • 96% of employees feel encouraged to balance their work life and their personal life.
  • A survey found employees highly appreciate the flexibility allowed by Life Navigation. It stimulates creativity and innovative thinking and increases focus.

Solution submitted by

Please login to view this information. If you don't have an account? Request a membership