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HR Challenges in the Pharmaceutical Industries

5 min read
Last Updated on 17 July, 2021
HR Challenges in the Pharmaceutical Industries

Society is constantly changing. All of which will imply how the pharmaceutical industry is likely to conduct its business in the near future. How are they going to meet patients' needs and healthcare systems extensively?

The pharma industry has witnessed multiple hurdles in recent years, let alone human resource management. The large population, high demands, and a growing burden of chronic health conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease are some of the added challenges. The increasing number of patients living with multiple health conditions is raising concern at the same time. It pressurizes the healthcare system, both in terms of nature and scale of the demand and healthcare costs and drug development.

Apart from that, there are other challenges from new infectious disease threats, like Covid-19 or other re-emerging infectious diseases and rare diseases.

Now, coming back to the landscape of human resources, pharma industries are a highly knowledge-driven and technology-based industry that mostly depends on their human resources. Be it sales and distribution or product discovery and development. With the constant layoffs, corporate mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical market, and rise in the compensation standards, many businesses have also adopted an outsourcing business model.

There is also the challenge of a high employee attrition rate in this industry. Employee engagement using performance-based incentives, perks, and rewards is essential for employee motivation and retention.

So, let’s look at some of the significant HR challenges in the pharma industry.

Major HR Challenges and Issues in the Pharmaceutical Industries

1. Development in Technology

Technology is a disruptive force, particularly in the pharma industry. With the evolution of new technologies, patients can engage in their healthcare. People now have easy access to various wearable devices and apps, peer support communities, and telemedicine. It has impacted the way health care is provided and how patients engage with the business.

Pharma companies are searching for people who understand how technology can assist people in gaining control of their lives. There is an enormous opportunity for companies willing to adopt big data and machine learning insights and integrate virtual and augmented reality in product testing and distribution. With competitors becoming more innovative and risk-friendly, the upcoming pharma workforce must learn how to adapt to these new technologies. Here, the challenge is to build a more technical-savvy workforce to adjust to this new wave of technological developments in Pharma.

2. Scarcity of Talent

Pharmaceutical roles are mostly research-intensive and do not follow a fixed schedule. It takes years of experience for someone to become an expert in their field. Due to the lack of trained employees and human resources for health, all pharmaceutical firms are vying for the brightest. Firms with more reputation and financial clout attract the best talent, whereas small to medium-sized firms must make do with less.

In recent years, people have witnessed more applicants for research and development positions in non-pharmaceutical companies. It yields immediate results and recognition for the employees.

The WHO Department of Medicines and Health Products believes that the first step in building human resources in the pharmaceutical sector is by identifying the gap in the evidence. They have developed an assessment tool to quantify pharmaceutical human resources and identify critical human resource issues.

3. Employee Retention

Pharma industries face competition both internally and externally. Losing a key scientist or a project head can jeopardize a venture or halt a project for a long time until they find the next right talent.

The ability to attract and retain talent is one of the most difficult challenges within the life-sciences industry. A Forbes report says many people are leaving big pharma companies for new biotech companies.

With the aging population of pharma employees retiring, the focus is more on millennials and Gen-Z employees. They get driven by growth and development and opportunities for new skills. Therefore, they must have the scope of learning and development opportunities.

4. Employee Motivation

Pharma projects need time and patience to see fruitful results. In this industry, it's common to kill ventures that aren't profitable. Not seeing any results in the long-term research projects or ventures is a demotivating factor for anyone. Thus, keeping the employees engaged and motivated is another challenge faced by HR professionals in the pharmaceutical industry.

Employee attrition is a major issue. In the case of a pharma salesperson, their nature of work gets very demanding of achieving targets and is likely to get demotivated quickly. It is crucial to understand and identify their motivation factors and make an effort for an effective employee retention strategy.

Ways to Cope with the Human Resource Challenges in the Pharma Industry

1. Provide growth opportunities

Young employees focus on growth and development compared to mere compensation. There must be ample opportunities for them to learn and grow in the industry. In the long run, this will also help in the scarcity of finding skilled talents for the pharmaceutical organizations.

The older age group employees who are less tech-savvy must be given training and skill development opportunities to enhance their technological skills. It will help them stay engaged and motivated to apply new skills and to improve productivity.

2. Make your Employees Engaged

Everyone likes to feel that they are making a difference. Employees must be involved in their work to produce optimum results. Since the projects in pharma companies last for an extended period, it is likely that the employees get demotivated or feel that their efforts are not recognized.

Recognizing and rewarding your employees can help your employees stay motivated and invested in the company. A simple pat on the back can also go a long way. So remember always to find an opportunity to recognize your workers and appreciate them for their contributions.

Vantage Circle provides an excellent platform to recognize and appreciate your employees, which takes less than a minute.

3. Regular Employee feedbacks

The initial sign of an employee on the verge of quitting their job is disengagement. You must try to assess what and how your employees feel from time to time. Taking regular feedback and suggestions will help you get an idea and build more robust HR strategies that work best. It will improvise your decision-making skills and techniques to improve your employee engagement.

Vantage Circle’s Pulse Survey tool helps you do just that, in a simplified, easy-to-use platform.

4. Competitive compensation

A report shows how pharma executives' growing pay packages have received criticism due to the increase in drug prices. Firms are constantly competing with each other to grab the best talents in the market.

In this war for talent, you must know the market standards concerning compensation. Accompany the compensation with the best perks and benefits to gain a competitive advantage.

You can check Vantage Circle's unique perks and benefits program, which is a win-win situation.

In Conclusion

People's expectations are changing. They want a more personalized approach to their healthcare. They don't want to just pay for new diagnostics or alternative medicines. They want to pay for an outcome. It means the pharmaceutical companies must understand patients better. They must do better target research and clinical trials. Pharmaceutical companies will need to collaborate evermore with others in the healthcare system.

For example, for those who can assist with monitoring patient compliance to treatments, with those who can assist with health education and awareness-raising. They must also be willing to collaborate with organizations that can help with collecting and curating patient data.

Personalized care also means more segmented markets for pharma companies. They must decide what technologies to invest in, what patient types to focus on, and which collaborations to pursue. Due to the rise in personal medication, reorganization of the HRM systems is inevitable.

Gauging the end consumer's market conditions and expectations will help you identify the key challenges and loopholes in the human resource management system (HRMS). With a better understanding and knowledge of the industry, it will surely help you cope with the HR challenges and the moral imperative to save lives.

Thadoi Thangjam is a content marketer and digital marketing executive at Vantage Circle. When she’s not geeking out over content strategies, she is probably hunting for the next perfect track to add to her playlist. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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