The pharmaceutical industry is a vital sector in the UK, a fact that – if ever it were needed – has been visibly demonstrated this past year. Covid-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the WHO (World Health Organization) in March 2020. At the time, Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the ABPI (Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry), said: “As part of the health community, pharmaceutical companies want to play as big a role as possible in the response to Covid–19.”
More than one year on, the pharmaceutical industry continues to play an essential role in the response against the virus. Alongside developing tests and vaccines against the coronavirus, the industry has also had to consider and respond to other areas affected by the pandemic. For instance, ensuring medical supplies and treatments unrelated to Coronavirus continue to reach patients has been of the upmost importance.
But pharmacists, as extraordinary as they are, are not super-human and for many, the pandemic has taken its toll. A study by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the charity, Pharmacist Support, found that the pandemic has had a significant and detrimental impact on the wellbeing of the pharmaceutical workforce.
Burnout and mental health concerns are becoming significantly more prevalent with 72% of people admitting that their work is having a negative impact on their mental wellbeing. Additionally, more than one-third (34%) said they had considered leaving the pharmacy profession because of the stress caused by the pandemic, with 89% stating they were close to burnout.
Pre-pandemic problems intensified
To say the pharma industry has been busy since the outbreak of Covid-19 is an understatement. However, pre-pandemic surveys reveal that many HR issues already existed and as such, the outbreak has simply served as the straw to break the proverbial camel’s back.
According to the ABPI, the UK pharmaceutical industry directly employs around 67,000 people. As with many specialised sectors, there is a limited pool of qualified talent. Pharmaceutical companies therefore often find themselves vying for the attention of the same candidates. With the inevitability of roles remaining unfilled, understaffed departments become fatigued and overstretched.
Additionally, once appointed, maintaining an engaged workforce is often cited as pharma’s other significant HR concern. Lengthy projects often yield little by way of results in the short term and risk becoming monotonous. Developing methods that engage your people during the more uneventful times is essential to the long-term prospects of the organisation.
Given the crucial role that the pharmaceutical industry plays in keeping the world’s population safe, it is paramount that the same care is given to the remarkable people working tirelessly on our behalf. Pre- and post-pandemic HR issues are strikingly similar. However, there are practices that you can put in place to safeguard your exceptional talent.
In the following industry overview, we discuss each of the 9 factors that science has shown to determine success through people and explore these in the context of the unique challenges currently being faced by employers in the pharmaceutical sector.