How is The Great Resignation Affecting the Pharma Industry?

Written by: Lucy Walters
Published on: 23 Dec 2021

The Great ResignationBeginning in 2021, The Great Resignation is a trend whereby large numbers of employees are voluntarily resigning from their jobs. Brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, this trend can be seen across numerous industries, particularly within the health care and technology industries.

According to Microsoft, in 2021 40% of the global workforce considered leaving their employer. The pandemic has given workers an opportunity to reassess their careers and reconsider what’s important to them when it comes to their jobs. It has heightened existing frustrations held by workers, and employers must now make changes in how they attract and retain a modern workforce.

In this article, we look at how the Life Science industry is being affected by The Great Resignation, with advice on what you can do to retain your employees and attract new, high-quality talent…

Lifestyle Changes and Work-Life Balance

The pandemic has changed how workers value their time at home and with family, with many now seeking a healthier work-life balance. In Jobvite’s 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report:

  • 35% of workers have declined/would decline a job offer that required them to work full time on location, in an office or at a worksite
  • When searching for a new job, 24% of job seekers said that work-life balance was a top influence, with this percentage being higher than quality of work, healthcare, and other benefits

85% of managers believe that having teams with remote workers will become the new norm. With so many more companies moving towards a hybrid way of working, and with large pharmaceutical companies including GSK, Pfizer and Novartis leading the way, Life Science employers can’t afford to not offer employees some degree of flexibility post-pandemic.

Employer Values and Impact on Society

During the pandemic, many workers were left questioning their relationships with their manager and looked to their employers for more empathy and support than ever. Especially true for Millennials and Gen Z, many workers are now wanting their employers to make a positive impact on society and are looking for companies whose goals align with their own personal values.

Although pharmaceutical companies are working hard to improve the quality of life for people across the globe, workers are still waiting for widespread change in these areas:

  • Sustainability and environmental impact
  • Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • Mental health support in the workplace
  • Gender and income equality in the workplace

To retain a modern workforce, employers must demonstrate more compassion and consideration for both their workers and wider society, and lead positive change rather than getting left behind by it.

Health and Safety in the Workplace

People have become hyperaware of the consequences of poor health and are doing more to protect both the physical and mental health of themselves and those around them. 58% of workers would decline a job offer if the employer didn’t have clear COVID-19 protocols in place, proving just how important health has become to employees when finding the right employer.

Retain your employees by providing access to benefits such as health insurance and helping them to feel comfortable in the workplace. Listen to concerns about coming back into the office, especially for employees who fall into a high-risk category, and prove your commitment to keeping everyone safe.

An Aging Workforce

21.45% of the current population are baby boomers who are predicted to age out of the workforce within the next 10 to 15 years. Many of these people fall into the high-risk group for COVID-19, creating hesitations about returning to work. Health concerns, big changes to the workplace environment and the desire for a better work-life balance are prompting many from this group to take early retirement.

This group of workers are the most experienced and can’t be so easily replaced. Rather than losing employees from this group early, consider offering more flexible work, including part-time work and remote working options, and address concerns about staying safe in the workplace.

Training, Development and Career Growth

Many workers also feel that their careers have stagnated during the pandemic. A 2021 HowNow survey found that 52% of working professionals in the UK have received no training at all since the pandemic began, with 23% having seen training and development opportunities significantly decrease.

In the survey, less than 25% of workers said they had seen a promotion in their team within the past year, with survey results also showing a 48% drop in promotions between 2019 and 2020. To retain your employees, ensure everyone is given appropriate training and development opportunities and is encouraged to continue their career growth within your organisation. 

Candidate-Driven Job Market

The Life Science job market has become more candidate-driven than ever. So many new roles within the industry have been created to meet the demands of the pandemic that in many cases, there are more openings than there are qualified candidates to fill them.

Life Science companies must therefore do more to compete for the best talent, including offering highly competitive packages that sit above the industry standard. Workers who weren’t actively job seeking are being drawn in by these attractive opportunities, and are also beginning to seek out a job that also comes with their ideal lifestyle.

Not all pharma companies are in the position to offer the highest salaries or the biggest bonuses, but as we have outlined, job seekers will be looking for more than this in 2022, and it’s up to employers to stay on track with job seeker needs to stay ahead in the competition for talent.

Workers Reaching Breaking Point

After months of high workloads and other pressures created by the pandemic, many workers are resigning from their jobs simply because they have reached their breaking point. In a Microsoft survey, 54% of workers said they feel overworked, with 39% feeling completely exhausted.

In the healthcare sector, the number of employees who quit their jobs in 2021 was 3.6% higher than in 2020, and this is thought to be down to being overwhelmed at work and overworked on the frontline for so many months.  

Pent-Up Resignations

The Great Resignation is also down to employees who delayed quitting their jobs in 2020 due to the uncertainty around job security caused by the pandemic. This has created a boost in resignations in 2021 which is explained by over a year’s worth of pent-up resignations.

This is especially prevalent in the Life Science industry which offered higher levels of job security than most due to the increased pressure the industry was suddenly put under.

What Does The Great Resignation Mean for Pharma Employers?

The Great Resignation means that it’s more important than ever for employers to present themselves as an Employer of Choice, and to provide more than a job for workers across the industry.

Now is the time to strengthen your employer branding, and to give workers more than a job with a salary. To retain a modern workforce, employers must be willing to make a positive difference to the lives of employees, and to steer clear of using a ‘one size fits all approach’ when it comes to transitioning to a new, post-pandemic ‘normal.’

With the Life Science job market busier than ever, employers must be adaptable to changing job seeker needs and be proactive when it comes to seeking out new ways of retaining a modern workforce.

Visit our Recruiter Blog to see the latest industry news and for more tips and research on recruiting within the Life Sciences industry.