How can biopharma attract, hold on to talent?

Unknown-1KEY TAKEAWAY: The biggest challenge facing the Biopharma industry is the continued exodus of talent from its ranks.  Great companies are made great, not just by products, but by great people who care about what they do and a desire to leave their organizations in a better place.

I have spent a lot of time working in the biopharm area and have a lot of contacts.  Late last year I talked with people in the industry, as well as people that had left the industry, and asked them “what would make you want to stay in pharma?”.  Here are their answers..

1ne: Leadership whose job is to develop more leaders-by far this was number one.  Almost everyone said that there was a major disconnect between senior executives and the rank and file. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”null”]Most felt that CEO’s, especially were too cozy with Wall Street[/inlinetweet] while earning tens of millions of dollars in compensation.

2wo: Lack of job security-While everyone understands that the days of job security are long gone, laying off thousands of employees because drugs lose patent or to improve the balance sheet is seen as short sighted.  “I gave my heart and soul to the company at the expense of a personal life and family and the thank you was a pink slip” said one person who used to work for Amgen.  Still another said “they are laying off good people while retaining bad managers and people who only care about their paycheck and titles”.


3hree: Company culture – All day, back to back, meetings seem to ne a way of life within most Biopharma companies and it’s taking its toll.  The other aspect is that there are people making key decisions who lack the experience and knowledge, thus resulting in a “cover your ass” atmosphere.

4our: Too many hours – It’s common, said one former employee, to see people working well past 7PM every night which in turn is leading to burn out.  “Management seems aware that people are overworked, but doesn’t do anything to try and address the situation”.


5ive: Bad managers – This was something that was mentioned more by people still in the industry than those who left.  Most said that their managers would often take credit for their work, use passive aggressive behavior towards them  and were more interested in bending in the wind than doing what was right.

6ix: Open offices – No, open offices don’t inspire people to collaborate more.  Employees are sick of open offices and desire a space that allows them to “nest”.  “Having a little bit of privacy tells me that the company respects me, as a person”.

7even: Lack of empathy towards patients. [inlinetweet prefix=”null” tweeter=”null” suffix=”null”]”It’s not about patients, it’s about making numbers at the expense of patients”.[/inlinetweet]

8ight: Not being allowed to work from home enough – Two people informed me that they were pinged for missing an important meeting during a major snowfall last year in the Boston area. At what point in time does a manger say “stay home, we’ll reschedule the meeting?”

9ine: Lack of work/life balance– “If the industry is going to attract new talent than this has to change” said a VP.  Two weeks vacation a year is not enough which is why we shut down operations between Christmas and New Years as well as the July 4th week and don’t count it as a vacation.


10en: Recognition – “When we did a good job managers would routinely hand out AMEX reward certificates and it was a nice acknowledgement that we went above and beyond. Now, as a reward, we get more work”.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?