How do the people working in pharma feel?

SUMMARY: No company can succeed without employees who care about customers. If pharma doesn’t make an effort to recruit and retain passionate, caring employees than they are in huge trouble.

There was a time when I was proud to wear my branded pharma shirts when I traveled. I had heard, first hand in research, how patients were leading more productive lives because of the prescription drugs we manufactured and sold. Whenever I proposed new eMarketing initiatives the focus wasn’t on ROI it was helping patients. It seems like such a distance memory.

Today Eli Lilly is a much different company. The really great marketing people I worked with have all left. Older employees have been offered severance packages while younger employees are being recruited. Employees over-60 are better educated than their forebears and considerably more durable. Experts say older employees outperform younger ones on almost every measure of job performance. They are more conscientious, less absent and have better social skills. Yet pharma is slowly weeding them out and replacing them with people who love spreadsheets.

If we measure an industry by what its potential customers have to say pharma is in deep trouble but we don’t do that. Pharma is measured by profits and pipelines. That is the fault of senior management.

Walk into any pharma HQ and you’re likely to see a company mission statement that has to do with helping people. Work on any floor and you’re more likely to see people locked in back-to-back meetings focusing on ways to make more money. In the meantime online health seekers have to spend hours searching the Internet for quality health information.

So let me ask you a basic question? Are you really happy working in pharma or are you chained to that big paycheck and find it hard to leave?

A company, or industry, is only as good as the people who work there. It’s been my experience that award chasing employees are more content to sit in open offices and become part of the system than rock the boat and challenge the status quo. One of the reasons that pharma’s reputation has slided so much is because too many people who wanted to focus on patients have left.

Besides new drugs for pipelines pharma has a huge problem; recruiting people who care and are passionate about what they do. If it continues the industry is in even deeper trouble.