The pharmaceutical’s industry biggest challenge

QUICK READ:  If you start to lose key people, you won’t be able to keep the business you do have, and things will go from bad to worse.  Companies who see their good employees as “replaceable” are wrong. Good employees are not replaceable. Pharma cannot afford to let good people leave without so much as an exit interview to try and retain them.

A colleague recently decided to leave her organization to join another pharma company. She didn’t leave because of money or lack of opportunity; she left because her manager took her for granted and there were no growth opportunities. By all accounts, the people who worked for her really liked working for her and were very disappointed to see her leave. The sad part? Her employer didn’t lift one finger to try and retain her.

Business leaders who adopt the attitude that anyone is replaceable, thinking they can simply hire someone with a greater skillset or someone with a more prestigious pedigree, are fooling themselves, especially in an industry that needs people with unique skillsets.

Good employees carry deep institutional knowledge of the organization. They have extensive product, systems, and process knowledge. They hold client relationships that have been built over many years. They carry tremendous experience on what has worked and what hasn’t worked for the company in the past. And great employees have camaraderie and influence with their coworkers, which when lost, has an impact on the corporate culture. When they leave the organization suffers but within the pharma industry it seems to be “who cares if you leave?”.

I don’t see revenue management as the biggest challenge facing pharma. To me, it’s the continuing loss of talented people who understand how to work in a regulated industry and excel. There are still too many “empire-building” managers that only care about their own power rather than retaining people they see as competition.

When a company loses a great employee it causes the other employees to have reason for pause, thinking, “Why would that person leave the organization, and why would the organization let them get away?  In Debra’s case her past direct reports have called asking her to let them know if there are any openings at her new company.

Employee turnover already costs US companies $160 billion a year. Replacing an employee can set your company back as much as 2x their annual salary. And with high performers delivering approximately 400% more in productivity than the average employee, losing even a few of your star workers can have an astronomical impact on your bottom line. 

Not only do high-performers cost more to replace, new research by SAP and Oxford Economics shows that less than half of them are satisfied with their jobs, and 1 in 5 say they’re likely to leave in the next six months.

The pharma industry is under attack from all sides despite the development of a Covid vaccine. They desperately need employees with a good moral conscience to help guide the company. Allowing good people to simply leave, without reaching out to ask “what can I do to keep you?”, is unconscionable.