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If you want to do right by your employees, and be truly innovative when it comes to benefits and development opportunities, you have to start by understanding that employees have a wide variety of needs. They are looking to advance their careers, take care of themselves and their families, and build relationships with their co-workers and leaders.

And insight into your employees’ needs isn’t going to come from the outside. It’s going to come from them.

The best companies rely on their HR teams to listen and gather insights from employees to really understand their needs. Then those companies look for meaningful solutions.

That’s what we do at Abbott. And that’s why our commitment to innovation in the areas of employee benefits and employee development has landed us on the 2018 LinkedIn Top Companies list.

Recently, we set out to improve what we offered to our employees. We did this not because we felt we were lacking in what we offered already. But because we believe that just as our business needs timely research and development to sustain growth, so does human resources. We need to innovate and improve our products just as much as our business does.

This starts by listening to employees and gathering real insights. Employees told us that they are working longer; many are caring for their parents as well as their children; and that navigating the healthcare environment has gotten more complex. We also know that the competition for talent is increasing.

Our HR teams used these insights and designed some innovative programs to address diverse needs. And that is the key to true innovation – making sure you are addressing real needs. A cornerstone to our benefits philosophy is to offer what’s needed in our various markets and businesses rather than provide the same thing to all people, everywhere.

A few of the innovative programs that we launched specifically in the U.S. include:

·        CarePartner, a free benefit that helps our “sandwich generation” employees coordinate care for elderly parents or other family members

·        Our Speak to the World program, which allows any employee to learn a new language, for free, and for either personal or business reasons

·        A vacation buy program that lets employees purchase additional vacation days for greater flexibility and improved work-life balance

·        Teladoc, a service that provides 24/7 phone and video access to a physician for non-emergency consultations

·        Care Coordinators, a network of nurses, claims experts and other professionals who help employees find health care providers and assist with authorizations and billing

·        A health and fitness app that helps employees earn rewards for healthy activities like exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep

I’m proud of these programs because of the way they were developed. We depended on our HR teams who knew what people needed and knew how to solve problems.

All that said, none of these great new programs would have any value if they weren’t built on the strong foundation of health and wellness benefits, retirement savings, and training opportunities that Abbott provides.

Every day our employees work to create new life-changing technologies for people who need and rely on our products. We take that same drive to innovate and focus it on how we can positively impact the lives of our employees. We don’t offer generic solutions. We want to understand what our employees need and then do our best to deliver the programs that meet those needs. That is what true innovation looks like.

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