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Case Code: CLHR053
Case Length: 4 pages 
Period: 2012-2013  
Pub Date: 2020
Teaching Note: Available
Subject : Human Resources/ Organization Behavior
Organization :Sanofi Canada
Industry :Pharmaceuticals & Biotech
Countries : Canada, France

Sanofi Canada Overcomes Resistance to Change through Change Ambassadors



The case study “Sanofi Canada Overcomes Resistance to Change through Change Ambassadors” brings to light how organizations can bring about organizational and behavioral changes without much resistance from employees if they make the employees active participants in the transformation process. Sanofi Canada (SC) had been witnessing a drop in revenues since 2005 when its exclusive rights to a number of medicines started to expire and patients began to switch over to low-cost generics . Consequently, SC laid off employees and in 2011 decided to sell off its dermatology business, Dermik. The sale also included the company’s existing 45-year-old head office building. These developments had an adverse impact on employee morale, leading to higher attrition rates.

Jon Fairest (Jon) took over as CEO in 2012 and was immediately tasked with shifting the head office to a modern facility with an open-plan working environment. Further, Sanofi’s global management saw in this an opportunity to change the working culture from a closed, non-collaborative one to one that was more open and collaborative where employees did not withhold information but shared it for mutual benefit. Jon along with a steering committee that comprised top management members and personnel from the Communications and Human Resources teams developed a year-long change management campaign. The change leadership strategy focused on empowering employees to actively take part and support the forthcoming change.

In line with this strategy, 30 employees were roped in as Change Ambassadors to educate their peers about the transitions. The Change Ambassadors were split into three groups of 10 employees and each group was assigned with distinct tasks. One group handled technology issues, the second one behavior change, and the third managed environmental change. To get employees used to an open-plan working environment where employees freely shared their ideas, the Change Ambassadors conducted many initiatives such as “Open Door Challenge,” and “Getting to Know You” sessions. The team also issued behavioral guidelines for engendering a friendly, collaborative working culture. Employees were allowed to voice their opinions on furnishings and workstations. Photos of the new buildings with the furnishings chosen by the employees were regularly posted on the walls. This created a positive feeling among the employees. The employee-inclusive campaign ensured a smooth transition to the new building and the employees expressed satisfaction with the collaborative work culture. Attrition dropped to 0% post the transition.
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  • How organizational and behavioral changes can be successfully implemented by overcoming resistance to change.
  • How active participation of employees leads to higher motivation and commitment and lower attrition levels in companies.
  • The importance of interactive communications in organizations.
  • Advantages & disadvantages of an open-plan office space.
  • Importance of change agents.
Since 2005, the revenues of Sanofi Canada (SC), an affiliate of Sanofi , had been dwindling as its exclusive marketing rights to a number of medicines began to end and inexpensive generic drugs started eating into its sales. To counter falling revenues, SC implemented a number of downsizing initiatives, including employee lay-offs. In 2011, it decided to sell its dermatology business, Dermik, which included the company’s existing 45-year-old head office building. These actions adversely impacted employee morale and, as a result, the attrition rate peaked to 15% in 2012. Jon Fairest (Jon) took over as the CEO the same year and was immediately tasked with shifting the company’s headquarters from the antiquated 45-year-old building with closed offices, insufficient natural light, and shortage of open meeting spaces at Saint-Elzéar Boulevard West in Laval, Quebec, to a modern building with an open-plan working environment in Laval’s Biotech City, Greater Montreal....


Change Management, Leading Change, Communication Strategy, Leadership Style, Leadership & Values, Stress & Motivation, Team Management

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