The New Customer: Your Workforce - Pharmaceutical Executive

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The New Customer: Your Workforce
Pharma companies create consumer loyalty by promising to improve quality of life. The same strategy may work for employee retention.


PE Careers


Recruiters at pharmaceutical companies face a similar situation. During the time from open position to hire, recruiters are faced with large pools of candidates. This means the ability to pick and choose, but it also means sifting through lots of unqualified candidates. The goal during this period should be identifying candidates whose values align with your company's culture.

A note of caution, though: Top talent at one company doesn't always translate at another. A job applicant whose skill set appears perfect on paper may not necessarily be the right fit at your organization. For example, if your company considers teamwork its highest priority, hiring a candidate whose previous firm valued competitiveness above all else could create a conflict.

Expectancy The period from hire to start can be overwhelming. To make it easier, fellow employees, or ideally, future team members, can help a new employee transition into the company and serve as catalysts for his success. Even a gesture as simple as introducing team members and their positions can be greatly beneficial; the employee will feel comfortable asking about future projects and assignments.

Formative Days Just because you held a welcome party on your new hire's first day doesn't mean your job is done. The first two weeks are a period of adjustment and growth. An orientation that informs your new employee of what he needs to work on is expected, but even more beneficial is an explanation of how to work and succeed at your company. Include team members in the orientation so they can demonstrate how the team works, and what tools are used to succeed. This way your new employee is prepared to do the job in a way that is in line with your needs.

Growth Enablement After six months, the new employee will no longer be "new" and the job may become routine and unchallenging. Create career development initiatives, such as job-related training and senior mentoring, to keep employees challenged. Employees are always looking to develop new skills, but if you don't provide the means, they will look elsewhere.

Development As the employee continues to grow with the company, it's crucial to provide constant encouragement and support. The six-to-24-month period is a time when employees develop greater job autonomy. It's a good idea to continue mentoring programs through this stage, to help the employee maintain good work habits. Bad habits are hard to break.

Work/Life Actualization You think that since employees have been with a company for two years they're in for the long haul? Not so. From this stage forward, you must continue working hard to give employees reason not to look elsewhere.

Companies are realizing how important it is to support an employee's personal growth. Tuition reimbursement, flextime, and on-site childcare are great ways to reward employees. This is the phase when it's most important to think about work/life balance; firms that do not understand this end up with staff members who are often dissatisfied, unmotivated, and disengaged.

Separation Regardless of the employee-firm relationship, you will have star employees who leave. Instead of dwelling on feelings of betrayal, identify the root causes of separation and use them to strengthen your future retention strategy. Employees complain about feeling cast off at the exit interview; use it as an opportunity to solidify a working relationship.

Strategies and Solutions

Gaps can exist at each stage so it helps to clarify which has the most impact on your workforce. Who better to ask than the people who are most directly affected? Employees know from the front lines what is going right and wrong, and what can be improved upon. Having in-person conversations with employees—hearing it from the horse's mouth, so to speak—can be a more efficient way of realizing systemic gaps, and formulating solutions.

Outside vendors are sometimes helpful, but be wary of canned solutions—answers to your retention issues must align with your company's unique goals.

Avoid problems by keeping strategies fresh. Periodically reassess your needs to ensure that your company is able to progressively change with the evolving workforce environment.

By focusing on all eight stages, you'll be able to retain a solid workforce and provide an environment that fosters productivity and commitment. With 77 million baby boomers on their way to retirement and only 44 million potential workers to replace them, how will the shortage of top talent affect your company? Don't wait to find out.

Chason Hecht is president of Retensa. He can be reached at


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