Pharma has a huge problem beyond revenues

  • According to the Conference Board worldwide, only 13 percent of workers feel “engaged”—meaning enthusiastic at work and committed to their companies—according to Gallup, which has tracked this since 2000.
  • Employees are merely the fuel that generates sales growth.
  • If you’re living in fear of losing your job, then all of your decisions and actions are geared to preserving your job rather than taking risks.

Pharma has a bigger issue than the massive changes coming to health care.  It’s the loss of good employees who are either being laid off or leaving because of the stress of working in big pharma.

One of the people in my consulting group was a senior VP at a large biotech company and has over 25 years experience.   He recently talked with me about the number of good people within the industry who have either left or are planning to leave.  Many of these people were part of highly successful product launchs and the loss of their experience is not something that can be replaced with a new hire.

Working in pharma has been never easy, but helping patients is extremely rewarding.  However, today it’s all sales and ROI not patients.  Employees are merely the fuel to generate more revenue.

The job market is very good right now and I would guess that more than half of the people that I work with are “actively looking” for new jobs.  They’re sick of raises being neutralized by higher health insurance costs. They’re sick of CEO’s earning 350X what they make and they’re sick of the consistent focus on sales over the welfare of patients.

The loss of great people like this is the biggest threat to pharma companies. Some turnover is expected, but when you lose people who successfully launched brands and know your culture you’re losing a lot.

When I was at Lilly and we lost the patent on one of our top selling drugs it was a very stressful time.  Meetings with senior people and HR popped up on everyone’s calendar which would determine if you were staying or being shown the door.  I vowed to never go through that again, but imagine how the people at Pfizer feel right now with the threat of layoffs?

Motivated People Perform words in newspaper headline to illustrate findings of study or survey revealing that recognized or rewarded employees have better efficiency and productivity

Your organization is only as good as your employees.  If you’re living in fear of losing your job, then all of your decisions and actions are geared to preserving your job rather than taking risks.  Preserving your job in pharma means more of the same old things versus the willingness to take risks to engage patients.  Clearly the industry is in trouble.

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