Pharma Employee Job Stress on Rise

Pharma Employee Job Stress on Rise

March 19th, 2012 // 3:36 pm @

Source: Pharmalot

With the overwhelming and ongoing number of job losses across the pharmaceutical industry, few would be surprised that many employees are anxious about the future. Each drugmaker has slashed research projects and marketing budgets, sending scientists and sales reps overboard at eye-popping rates. Also high on the list: the people who get the drugs out the door, thanks to plant closures.

Slightly more than half report that their job satisfaction is either high or very high, but at the same time, nearly two-thirds say they worry about job security, which is down from 70 percent the year before, but similar to responses in prior years. But what exactly do they worry about and what is the fallout among the survivors?

A new survey shows that most – nearly 40 percent – remain concerned about internal cost cutting more than anything else, and that’s up from 21 percent in the previous annual survey from PharmaManufacturing. Almost 30 percent worry about external financial pressure on their employers, down from 47 percent in the previous year.

Outsourcing remains troublesome, but no more or less so than in the past – roughly 8 percent have cited this is as an issue over the past four years. However, there is much less concern about a plant closing now – 8.3 percent listed this as worrisome, compared with 14.2 percent last year and 13.9 percent the year before. Why? Well, perhaps there are fewer plants left to be closed?

pharm-manuf-layoff-chart-twoMeanwhile, when asked about the biggest changes at work, nearly half say that on-the-job conditions are worse – 49.5 percent cited increased workloads due to staff cuts and nearly 49 percent report a new team or organizational structure. Nearly 18 percent say they are burnt out most of the time and 55.4 percent are burnt out some of the time. Almost 39 percent complain this is a real issue that is hurting productivity. And 45 percent say they have to pitch in to do things outside their domain.

Interestingly, when asked how the economy has hurt their employer recently, the responses indicated some improvement – nearly 38 percent report a hiring freeze, down from nearly 50 percent the year before. Similarly, 41 percent named layoffs, compared with 53 percent in the prior year. Salary freezes were cited by 19.4 percent versus 29.2 percent, and 24.7 percent pointed to outsourcing, down from 33.8 percent.

Of course, this may reflect a couple of trends. As noted above, the cutbacks have been so severe that some employees may feel that there is less likelihood that further expense slashing would match what has already taken place. This is uncertain, though, given patent expirations on big-selling drugs that are on the way. Wall Street analysts speculate AstraZeneca, for instance, may cut still more.

Another issue is the recent crackdown by the FDA on manufacturing plants as the agency attempts to improve oversight of the supply chain and emphasize product safety. Some drugmakers may experience more production disruptions and hire outside consultants, but ultimately, greater investment will be required in quality control and design, among other things.

Those who responded to the survey, by the way, included employees from manufacturing and operations; research and development; quality control and quality assurance; plant engineering and design; corporate management; regulatory and process control and validation, along with facilities and maintenance. Nearly three quarters have worked in the industry more than a decade and 35 percent supervise at least five people.

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