KEY TAKEAWAY: The changes in healthcare are not the biggest challenge facing pharma companies, it’s the continuing loss of talented, passionate people who continue to leave bad managers and bad organizations.

Turnover, in any company, is to be expected, but when you loose smart, passionate people who drive success because they are empathetic to patient needs your company is in trouble.

I come into contact with some very good, talented people working as a consultant, but what has me worried is that people are still leaving pharma in droves. They are leaving for three reasons:

  1. They’re tired of an environment where all they do is attend is meetings and nothing productive gets accomplished.
  2. Regulatory and legal people have too much power and are killing innovation before it can take root.
  3. There are too many bad managers hiding in management whose focus is only on sales and make decisions based on what’s best for the sales force rather than what’s best for patients.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 71% of Millennials Are Either Not Engaged or Actively Disengaged at Work. I would suggest that number is higher for those who work in pharma companies. When I recently guest lectured at an Ivy League MBA school not one person in an audience over 125 said they wanted to work in the pharmaceutical industry. If I were a pharma CEO I would be very worried.

Pharma executives try and throw money at new hires, but when people work for just money they lose part of their soul. The whole hiring process has to be revamped from the way companies recruit to the interview process. I only know two people who have said the job they are in now, within pharma, is what they expected. Others are starting to realize that a big paycheck is not enough to compensate for a job vs. a career.

Organizations are only as good as the people they hire and retain. Right now pharma is bleeding talent and there isn’t a bandage in sight.

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