Is a dispensable labor force is indispensable to pharma ?

6a00d83451c01469e20120a5b1d8af970c-320wiThe belt tightening within pharma continues when Lilly announced that it was laying off 30% of its sales force because of the patent expiration on Cymbalta later this year. This part of a pattern within pharma as of late but besides the real cost of laying off people I believe that pharma companies are going to be paying a huge price in being able to attract and retain talented employees.  When people feel they are dispensable they don’t give 100%, mistakes are made and more times than not pharma takes a hard punch in the gut.

Any talented marketer or sales person who would want to work for big pharma has to have a screw loose.  Most often than not you have to rotate your job every two to three years and if you are working on a brand that comes off patent you are informed that it’s up to you to find a new position within the company.  Some companies like Amgen inform new employees that Amgen is a right to work company which is a legal way of saying that at any time for any reason we can call you into a room and give you 15 minutes to clear out your desk because we don’t want you anymore.  Then there are companies who promote talented people into a new position only to tell them a few months later that the position they have been promoted to is no longer on the org chart.   Welcome to working in big pharma.

Now to be fair I realize that there is no such thing as job security but when you consistently treat your employees like dispensable assets do you really think that you’re going to get the best out of them ?  According to PWC “51% of top executives report that hiring has become more difficult than before.  HR must be more tightly integrated to R&D organizational decision making and a strategic function in all cases.”  Make no mistake about it this is a problem made worse by big pharma business model of massive layoffs and closed loop hiring. I mean who in their right mind would work for an industry that doesn’t value their employees ?


When we see that 1,000 people are going to loose their jobs we think in terms of statistics but behind those statistics are people who worked hard and because of circumstances beyond their control they are now looking for work.  A top priority for pharma executives has to be to change this paradigm and find a way to attract and keep talented marketers and sales people.  Above all the organization model has to change because the current model is in direct conflict with the emphasis to allocate more dollars to digital marketing to help reduce costs.

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