Pharma Recruitment: Empowering Future Talent Strategies

Woman in laboratory watching microscope

The pharmaceutical sector is at the epicentre of a talent war. The fast pace of technology, demands for innovation, and the emergence of disruptors like AI, cloud computing, and advanced analytics have intensified the scramble for top-notch professionals. Companies need to get innovative in their talent strategies. Whether it's fostering an environment of equity, tapping into the global talent pool, or valuing employee wellbeing, it's a race to not only secure the best but also to keep them motivated. As the stakes rise, so must the efforts to ensure the industry's bright future. How is your organisation gearing up for this challenge?

In this article, we will explore the high stakes of talent acquisition and retention in the pharmaceutical sector, unravelling the reasons behind the fierce competition for skilled professionals and delving into the transformative approaches that promise to shape the industry's future.

Reasons for Fierce Competition for Skilled Professionals in the Pharmaceutical Sector

The pharmaceutical sector is currently facing an unprecedented challenge: fierce competition for skilled professionals. With the rapid advancement of technology and the increasing demand for innovative solutions, the need for top talent has reached a critical level. Several factors contribute to this talent scarcity:

  1. High demand for specialised skills: As the industry adapts to innovative new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, cybersecurity, and data science, the demand for professionals with expertise in these areas has surged. These skills are not only essential for pharma recruitment but are also sought after by other industries, intensifying the competition for such skilled individuals.

  2. Talent mismatch: The pharmaceutical sector is witnessing significant disruptors in its operations, primarily driven by new product modalities like cell and gene therapy, digitisation, and advanced analytics. These disruptors have already led to a skill mismatch in a high percentage of pharma-manufacturing companies. More than half of all frontline workers have already felt the impact of these changes in their roles, and an additional 25% expect their roles to be affected within the next five years.
Lady HR manager giving a smiling job candidate a handshake for a successful job application
There is fierce competition in pharma recruitment.

The Need for Innovative Approaches to Attract and Retain Top Talent

To secure future talent in the pharmaceutical industry, it's crucial to use creative methods for attracting and keeping skilled professionals.

  1. Internal talent mobility: Companies should focus on internal talent mobility as a key strategy. By investing in upskilling and reskilling programmes, employers can bridge the skills gap within their workforce and efficiently fill critical positions. This approach boosts employee morale by offering them progressive career paths and opportunities for growth.

  2. Prioritising the talent experience: Keeping employees engaged and motivated is crucial to talent retention. Offering flexible work arrangements, competitive compensation and benefits, and a strong emphasis on employee wellbeing contribute to a rewarding talent experience.

  3. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives: Emphasising diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace fosters an environment where all employees can thrive and grow. DEI initiatives not only attract diverse talent but also create a culture of collaboration and innovation.

  4. Exploring different talent classes and global mobility solutions: Companies can address talent gaps by exploring various talent sources, including hiring temporary help, freelancers, or even retired professionals with valuable expertise. Considering overseas specialists through global mobility solutions can also be a strategic approach. Leveraging talent analytics and market intelligence can help identify the best fit for specific skill requirements while also tapping into a diverse pool of global talent to meet project demands and achieve business success.

Breaking Free from Turnover: Addressing Retention Challenges

Identifying Common Reasons for High Turnover Rates in the Industry

Employee turnover is a pressing concern when it comes to pharma recruitment, impacting both productivity and morale. Identifying the root causes of high turnover rates is critical for devising effective retention strategies.

  1. Lack of career growth opportunities: Skilled professionals in the pharmaceutical sector seek career advancement and continuous learning opportunities. When employees perceive limited growth prospects within a company, they can be lured away.

  2. Work-life imbalance: The demanding nature of the industry, especially during critical projects and clinical trials, can lead to work-life imbalances. Employees may feel overwhelmed, affecting their job satisfaction and leading them to seek better work-life integration in other organisations.

  3. Competitive job market: With the increasing demand for specialised skills in pharma recruitment, employees have a wealth of options to choose from. Companies must compete fiercely to attract and retain top talent.

Uncovering the Hidden Costs and Consequences of Employee Attrition

The consequences of employee attrition extend far beyond the initial departure. There are also many hidden costs.

  1. Financial impact: The cost of recruiting, onboarding, and training new employees can be substantial. The loss of institutional knowledge and expertise with each departure can also hinder productivity and lead to inefficiencies.

  2. Impact on team morale: When talented team members leave, it can have a cascading effect on the morale and motivation of remaining employees. Low morale may contribute to decreased productivity and collaboration.

  3. Disruption in projects: High turnover rates can disrupt ongoing projects, leading to delays and potential setbacks in critical research and development initiatives.

  4. Company reputation: Frequent turnover can tarnish a company's reputation in the job market, making it more challenging to attract new talent in the future.

Innovative Pharma Recruitment Approaches to Secure Future Talent

Cultivating a Culture of Purpose and Meaning

Employees seek more than just a job; they crave a sense of purpose and a connection to a greater mission. Companies give them this by clearly communicating their core values and mission, ensuring that every team member feels aligned with the organisation's overarching goals. When employees understand the positive impact they can make on patients' lives through their work, they become more engaged and committed to the company's success.

Creating a mission-driven work environment puts patient impact at the heart of every decision and action. When employees see the direct correlation between their efforts and improved patient outcomes, their sense of purpose is strengthened. Encouraging regular interactions with patients or healthcare providers can provide first-hand insights into the real-world implications of their work.


Agile Career Development: Unleashing Growth Potential

To retain top talent, pharmaceutical companies must invest in agile career development programmes. These programmes should cater to individual aspirations and strengths, offering personalised growth pathways. Using regular skills assessments and understanding employees' career goals, companies can tailor development opportunities that meet organisational needs and individual ambitions.

Cross-functional experiences can enrich employees' skill sets and perspectives. Encouraging employees to explore different roles within the organisation allows them to build versatile expertise and adaptability. Skill diversification not only enhances an employee's value to the company but also boosts employee satisfaction.


Flexibility: Unleashing Work-Life Synergy

In the wake of the pandemic, remote work has become a viable option for many industries, including pharmaceuticals. Embracing remote work options and offering flexible schedules can empower employees to achieve better work-life synergy. This approach can reduce stress, increase job satisfaction, and improve overall wellbeing.

Work-life balance is crucial for employee satisfaction and retention. Companies should proactively support employee wellbeing by offering wellness programmes, mental health support, and stress management resources. Demonstrating a genuine concern for employees' health and happiness builds trust and loyalty.

Group of pharma scientists working together in a lab
Provide agile career development to keep top talents.

The Retention Ripple Effect: Securing Future Talent

Employer Branding: Crafting a Magnetic Presence

A strong employer brand is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. To stand out and keep employees engaged, companies should showcase a unique culture that fosters collaboration, innovation, and wellbeing.

To ensure talent retention, the journey begins right from the onboarding process. Employers can create an employee-centric onboarding programme that goes beyond the basics and offers a personalised and immersive experience. This approach offers a sense of belonging and purpose, making new hires excited about their roles in the organisation.

Promoting inclusive leadership is essential for creating a diverse and supportive workplace. Companies should encourage open communication and actively listen to employees from different backgrounds and experiences. Implementing initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion fosters a sense of value among employees.

To nurture employee growth, companies should provide clear career paths and professional development plans for all staff members. Offering access to training programmes, workshops, and mentorship opportunities empowers employees to enhance their skills and expertise.

Engaging employees in social impact initiatives that align with the company's values can also strengthen retention. Encouraging participation in volunteer work, charitable partnerships, and sustainability efforts allows employees to see the positive impact of their work, increasing their commitment to the organisation.


Strategic Partnerships: Nurturing Talent Pipelines

Establishing strategic partnerships with educational institutions, research organisations, and industry associations can create a robust talent pipeline and bridge the gap between academia and the pharmaceutical industry. Collaborate on joint initiatives, research projects, and knowledge-sharing programmes to engage with emerging talent early on, creating a sustainable talent pipeline for the future.

Employers might also consider creating comprehensive internship and mentorship programmes that provide hands-on experience to students and recent graduates. Pairing them with experienced professionals helps guide and inspire them on their career paths, making it easier for them to integrate seamlessly into the workforce.

Scholarships and career sponsorships can also be effective in demonstrating commitment and support to high-potential individuals in relevant fields. Investing in employee education and development encourages them to consider long-term careers with the organisation, fostering loyalty and dedication.

Group of happy employees giving thumbs up signs
Prioritise a positive talent experience and empower employees to encourage long-term commitment.

Revolutionising Retention Metrics: Measuring Success

Identifying Key Retention Indicators and Benchmarks

Measuring the success of retention strategies is important to identify and track key retention indicators and benchmarks. These metrics provide valuable insights into which strategies are working and which ones aren't.

  • Retention rate: The most fundamental metric is the overall retention rate, which indicates the percentage of employees who remain with the company over a specified period. Tracking this rate regularly helps identify trends and potential areas for improvement.

  • Turnover rate: The turnover rate represents the percentage of employees who leave the company within a specific timeframe. Understanding the reasons for turnover can guide targeted retention efforts.

  • Engagement levels: Employee engagement is a crucial factor in retention. Measuring engagement levels through surveys and feedback mechanisms can offer valuable insights into employee satisfaction and motivation.

  • Career progression: Tracking the career progression of employees can help assess the effectiveness of career development initiatives and identify opportunities for growth.

Implementing Feedback Mechanisms and Continuous Improvement Initiatives

To enhance retention efforts, organisations must actively seek feedback from employees and continuously improve their strategies based on the insights gained.

  • Anonymous surveys: Conduct regular anonymous surveys to gather honest feedback from employees about their experiences, challenges, and suggestions for improvement. This creates a safe space for employees to voice their opinions and concerns.

  • Exit interviews: Conducting exit interviews with departing employees can provide valuable information about the reasons for their departure. Analysing this feedback can lead to targeted retention efforts to address common pain points.

  • Stay interviews: Stay interviews with current employees also help identify their reasons for staying with the company and areas where improvements can be made.

  • Actionable insights: Ensure that the feedback collected is translated into actionable insights. Implement changes based on the feedback to demonstrate that the company values employee opinions and is committed to creating a positive work environment.

  • Continuous learning and development: Invest in ongoing training and development opportunities to upskill employees and keep them engaged. Learning and growth opportunities are crucial factors in employee satisfaction and retention.
A group of pharma employees gather around a boardroom table with their team leader
Invest in ongoing training and development opportunities.

Conclusion: Retention as the Catalyst for a Bright Future

Securing talent retention is paramount for the future success of pharmaceutical companies amid increasing demand and intense competition for skilled professionals. A strong talent retention strategy not only ensures stability but also enhances the company's reputation as an excellent workplace. Innovative approaches to talent attraction and retention are essential to navigate talent shortages and disruptions. Cultivating a magnetic employer brand and nurturing talent pipelines through strategic partnerships are vital ingredients for success. By fostering agile career development, offering flexibility, and prioritising a positive talent experience, organisations empower employees and encourage long-term commitment. 

Unlock the expertise of Brunel - your strategic partner in talent retention and acquisition. With more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, we're committed to securing top talent for your business. Rely on Brunel's proven track record and experience to confidently navigate the complexities of talent acquisition. Our dedicated team is here to support and empower your workforce, ensuring seamless project execution and personal growth.

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