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How can pharma create an engaged workforce?  


Beth Gaudin, Senior Consultant and Pharma Lead at Forster Communications, explores how pharma can create an engaged workforce.
Editor: Olivia Martins Last Updated: 25-Apr-2019

An engaged and motivated workforce is near the top of the wish list for almost any employer. It improves turnover, sickness and presenteeism rates, and research has shown that companies with an engaged workforce outperform those without by a whopping 202%[1].


For many businesses, this ambition does not always meet up with the reality. Worldwide just 15% of employees are engaged with the work they do[2]. It’s a constant source of concern not just for HR teams, but for entire companies. No wonder then, that a recent survey found that for 40% of HR professionals thought employee engagement would be one of their biggest challenges for 2019[3].


Recruitment and retention is becoming more and more critical for the pharmaceutical industry.  Millennials – who will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020[4] - have consistently shown that they are set on careers that do more than offer job security.  More than 90% of current business students are willing to sacrifice some of their future salary in order to work for a socially responsible employer[5].


The combination of a talent pipeline that cares about their employer’s impact on the environment and communities, and an industry sector that is consistently challenged around how it ensures access to treatments spells trouble – and reiterates the need for change.


The good news is that as an industry, pharma has a head start over other industries with a core purpose to protect and improve lives through its products. Indeed, many businesses are going further than this, with strong patient education programmes, innovative charitable giving and cost and carbon saving environmental programmes. 


The bad news is that few people are aware of everything the business is doing to tackle diseases. The different programmes are siloed and communicated as separate initiatives rather than elements of a shared goal and holistic, patient-centred approach. 


Sustainability needs to be placed at the heart of pharmaceutical businesses to enable all the work that is taking place to be joined up, and the overall positive impact that is being made shared and celebrated. 


Encouragingly, there are examples of companies that have realised the potential of sustainability and are going above and beyond the basics. GSK not only includes charitable giving and access to medicine in its reporting, but also the governance of its organisation and maps its progress to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. While Johnson and Johnson’s Health for Humanity 2020 Goals focuses not just on the people who they help, but also their local environments, as well as the processes the organisation runs under. By pulling these ambitions into one place, both companies are able to track and report on their process, as well engage their stakeholders in the impacts they have.


There is a real opportunity for pharma companies to transform how their workforce feel about working for them – and the time is now.


Forster Communications helps organisations to turn their social change ambition into reality. Their strategic communications services tackle the barriers that are preventing progress and create tangible value for clients, their stakeholders and society. For more information about Forster Communications contact Beth Gaudin via