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Leading the way in employee engagement: Biotech and pharma

Biotech and pharma is leading the way in employee engagement, which is having a marked impact on bussiness performance

Although employee engagement is sometimes treated as a vague concept, its impact on the working environment and bottom line is anything but. In our new insights report, Great Place to Work has shown how our clients in the biotech and pharma sector have reaped the benefits of having higher than average levels of employee engagement.

Our insights show these benefits include increased profits, better retention, and enhanced productivity. More than 80% of employees in the sector plan to stay in their current role, for example. This is an impressive statistic given that in other well-performing sectors like retail and healthcare the figure sits at 69% and 65% respectively.

Perhaps more impressive is that this staff intention is also backed up by reality – the sector has a median annual turnover rate of just 10%. A further notable impact of employee engagement is not just retention but physical presence. The rate of absenteeism is just 1.8 days per year; less than a third of the national average of 6.3 days. We can infer from these findings that pharma is attracting, keeping and motivating employees – objectives that should figure highly in any employer’s wish list. Added to this, 71% of organisations we worked with reported growth in total net profit during the last financial year, showing they are reaping the financial rewards of an engaged workforce.

So what is the pharma sector doing so right? I believe there are two key drivers of the success the sector is enjoying. The first is the emphasis placed on employees. In our work with business across sectors we consistently note that organisations that put their employees at the heart of what they do flourish. The pharma organisations we work with have benefits packages that make a difference to employees – almost all the firms that took part in the research offered flexitime as standard, and a good proportion had generous packages in place for parental leave.

Beyond this, specific schemes that matter to employees are put in place, such as the summer hours programme at AbbVie. This allows staff to flex their hours during the summer months with no restrictions so people can pick their children up from school, attend sports days, or generally have some time away from the office and enjoy the summer.

The second key driver of employee engagement is purpose. As an industry dedicated to saving and improving lives, pharma workers demonstrated a clear sense of purpose and a motivation to achieve: 80% of our clients in the sector’s workforce believe their job is meaningful, and a further 88% state they are proud of what they accomplish. These impressive statistics display the power of clearly showing the impact your employees are having, not just in the day-to-day running of your business but also in society.

Our insights and continued work with the biotech and pharma industry shows the sector is leading the way in employee engagement, which in turn is having a marked impact on performance. At Great Place to Work we know from experience that employee engagement isn’t a nebulous concept – it is a key driver of successful business indicators like recruitment, retention and productivity. Every business should consider putting its employees at the heart of what it does; especially if it wants to reap the rewards already experienced by the biotech and pharma sector.

Tom O’Byrne is CEO of Great Place to Work