How employee volunteerism is affecting innovation at GSK

PULSE volunteers work with a variety of partners around the world.

Each year, our PULSE program matches as many as 100 full-time employees with various non-profit organizations for up to 6 months to help solve healthcare challenges at home and abroad. The three-fold mission of the program is to:

Change NGOs and the communities they serve through donation of the volunteers’ expertise and knowledge

Change employee volunteers’ leadership skills, global perspective and ways of working

Change GSK by bringing the “outside-in” and enabling us to stay in step with society

Since PULSE started in 2009, our NGO Partners have consistently agreed that our volunteers are making a significant positive impact on their operations and, in turn, the communities they serve. Additionally, it has been evident that our employee volunteers continue to go through profound leadership development in their experiences. However, achieving the third aspect of our mission has always been the biggest challenge.

The question: How can we best receive and capture novel ideas from former PULSE volunteers?

The answer: Upon the return of the employees in January, run an annual business-led innovation challenge that has clear terms including process, timeline, application selection criteria, an appropriate judging panel, and prizes for winners.  

The outcome: Five PULSE alumni's innovation proposals were named as winners, given their promise to deliver both business and social benefit. Below I have included an audio clip from each of the winners describing their ideas. I’m looking forward to building on this year’s success and can’t wait to hear the ideas brought forward in our 2015 PULSE Innovation Challenge.