More than half pharma employes want to leave

2014 engagementEmployees in the U.S. biotech and pharma industries express significant interest in accepting or seeking out a new employment offer, according to a new Randstad Pharma Engagement Study.  The study reveals that within the next six months one-half (51%) of biotech/pharma workers are likely to seek out a job in a different company or organization, as compared to 38 percent of all employees polled.  Furthermore, should they receive an enticing job offer from another company, 66 percent of biotech/pharma employees are likely to accept, compared to 44 percent of all employees polled.

Why the Potential Turnover? To illuminate why this sector is likely to experience higher than average turnover, the Randstad survey reveals the top reasons employees would leave their current organization:

  • Inadequate pay (36%)
  • Lack of opportunity for advancement (34%)
  • High stress levels/difficult relationships with managers/co-workers (29%)
  • Difficult relationships with managers/co-workers (29%)


The biotech/pharma professionals surveyed are very clear on what their employers can do to impact employee engagement and improve retention.

  • Recognition: Recognize employees for their contributions and achievements (38%)
  • Flexibility: Be flexible or accommodating in terms of hours or working arrangements (37%)
  • Reward: Offer promotions/bonuses to high-performing employees (36%)

While this study is within pharma it self my guess us that within DTC marketing you’re going to see that more and more marketers are willing to leave the industry.  Over the last 2-3 years the number of really good marketing people who have left DTC marketing has been staggering. Most leave because of the frustration of acknowledging informed and educated consumers or because Directors are too interested in their own political careers than in doing what’s right for employees.  In the area of digital marketing organizations are too busy hiring people who will fit rather than hiring people who can transform the organization into a digital powerhouse. I have personally seen, for example, people who are asking basic questions like “who owns the product website?” rather than “how can we make our product website more effective?”.


The talent drain is a concern and biopharma has to be cautious about providing “golden handcuffs” which attract and retain people because of greater salaries rather than looking to hire people who can really lead great digital marketing.

6 thoughts on “More than half pharma employes want to leave

  1. /rant=on

    Interesting post Richard. I’ll be frank. I left the industry during the patent cliff restructuring in 2010. The “reasons” for leaving cited above are interesting and woefully disconcerting.

    The suggestion that the industry is motivating leave for inadequate pay is simply dumbfounding. The pay for accountability ratio in the industry is remarkably high and I would suggest that pharma seek strategies to elevate the value they currently receive from the salaries they are paying before throwing more money on the proverbial fire.

    Lack of opportunity has some merit but one has to recognize that the industry model itself supports a highly disenfranchised operational workforce. Head offices and labs are highly centralized and there are few employees working within the industry that do not understand career development likely necessitates moving from the comfort of your home town to the head office. The reality is many pharma companies try VERY hard to bring talent to the office but face rejection from the field at the suggestion to move. Lateral moves within your local market will not “fix” career advancement. Therefore… I call BS.

    Difficult relations with management – now that has bite. Perhaps this may be the real rub. In my observation, pharma management comes in two flavours… 1) charismatic transient, and 2) change agent. Charismatic transients are your political visionaries vested solely in the great idea above the great execution. They will be long gone before real metrics flow in for any of their initiatives. Change agents are more frequent in the field. Often these are representatives whom have elevated themselves beyond the sentiments of rep entitlement; they have seen the discouraging waste in the field and worked hard to rise and try to change things. They become management and dare to try and improve the pay for accountability ratio. Increasing accountability creates stress for the field. It violates entitlement and motivates turnover.

    …. I wonder how we can honestly ask – and honestly receive – an answer on how many employees in pharma are considering leaving because the metrics look softer elsewhere.


  2. This post really is a clear indication that there is something wrong within our industry. I agree that pharma pays very well so I am hesitant to believe it is pay. My thoughts are that managers within the industry are getting to used to gaming the system and thus securing their positions within the organization. The fact that there are people like you that haven’t been recruited for open emarketing positions tells me that they don’t want people who can rock the boat and lead, they want good employees to sit in open offices and fit in.

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  5. Great article clearly outlining the top reasons for the lack of employee retention in the medical and healthcare industry. In the past 10+ years, I have either spoken directly to or reviewed written communications from literally tens of thousands of sales professionals in the healthcare / medical sales industry regarding their interest in exploring the potential of new opportunities.

    Much of the talent across this industry is seeking out their entrepreneurial spirit within and going independent, whether as independent sales reps, independent consultants or independent contractors. The independent role offers the missing pieces for many highly talented professionals relative to compensation, flexibility, rewards and self-recognition for their own personal/business accomplishments. As a founder of MedCepts – an industry leader supporting innovative, flexible and out-of-the-box performance based compensation within a relationship-based or niche talent-based culture we have been developing the Largest Network of Independent Consultants, Independent Contractors, Independent Sales Reps, Independent Distributors and Independent Healthcare providers, exclusive to the medical and healthcare industry. This is certainly a little disruptive in the pharma world for sales, but well recognized and accepted with medical devices and healthcare related service providers. It’s a growing trend for more than a decade.

  6. This article gives a pretty clear insight into the industry and the problems within it. Everything is moving online and the people are becoming more important to various industries thus the need for more personal relationships. The bigger companies are the ones that struggle the most with this. Thanks for the read.

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