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Employee retention and employer branding


The pharma industry is finding it difficult to source and retain its existing talent pool. Thammaiah BN, MD, Kelly Services India, gives an insight on how to solve talent crunch in the pharma industry

The pharmaceutical industry is also referred to as recession-proof industry. In talent terms, this should bode well for both employees and employers. Paradox is that the industry is finding it difficult to source and retain its existing talent pool. Hiring and retention of highly skilled employees is important for pharma sector as employees are the heart and soul of this industry. So, what can pharma companies do, to emerge from this quagmire?

Luckily though, employee retention and employer branding can be achieved through easy and simple steps. Here is a five-point guide for pharma companies to follow to solve their talent challenges:

Expand workforce mix

Employers should hire a mix of permanent and temporary workers besides retirees, alumni, freelancers and consultants such as entrepreneurs and specialists. Such employees bring new skills and perspectives which could lead to improved efficiencies and help in creation of new ideas. Permanent employees may not have all the specialised skills needed for specific projects causing skill gaps, which can be filled in by highly skilled, experienced professionals with expertise in their industries hired on project or short-term basis. The benefits of such a workforce mix are lower costs, better efficiency, productivity and speed to market.

Improve candidate experience

Generally, Candidate Experience (CX) is not a priority for hiring managers. They tend to overlook the fact that a positive CX will help attract new talent and result in favourable reputation via candidate’s word-of-mouth. Even if a potential candidate does not get selected, organisations should make sure the candidate had a fair and pleasant experience. For a candidate to have good interview experience, some of the processes could be outsourced to the experts. Automating hiring processes is the best solution to enhance CX, which will allow candidates to advance themselves through the different steps and activities. Employers should ask employees to fill-in the survey form for their opinion of hiring processes such as what the organisation did well and seek suggestions for improvement. Organisations should also send the rejected candidates a polite mail for being part of interview and inform them that they would be called if there is a relevant opening in the future.

Work on employer branding – celebrate the employees

Employer branding is important to attract skilled talent. Posting employee testimonials, videos of team building exercises, CSR initiatives and showcasing staff accomplishments tells a lot about the organisation and shows that the organisation values its employees. Employees should be encouraged to run an employee engagement forum organising cultural and sports events for employees. Employers should take employees feedback seriously and try to improve the culture of organisation.

Create industry-ready talent

Innovative talent development programmes, guest lectures along with competency and skill development workshops, are important to make students industry-ready and to increase their chances of getting employed. Pharma companies should tie-up with universities and colleges to provide quality education and share key industry know-how basis real life and use-case scenarios. Industry experts should design the syllabus as per the industry standards so that transition from college to corporate is smooth. Universities should encourage internships as this is one of the methods that helps interns to get absorbed by the company. Pharma companies can also consider internships for faculty which help train the trainers. This will also help those companies that are unable to mentor or provide training to student interns due to paucity of resources.

Foster innovation

Employers should recognise the unique qualities of their employees and value them. They should encourage and give freedom to experiment as great ideas could come from any employee. They should proactively recruit entrepreneurially inclined individuals. The freedom to experiment should not only be given to R&D department but should be spread throughout the organisation. Employers should provide emerging entrepreneurs training and professional development opportunities in key areas. The innovative ideas and entrepreneurial behaviour should be financed by organisations which will boost morale of employees.

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