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Main » 2013 » October » 28 » Decline in life sciences engagement hits areas related to innovation—a key area necessary to foster genuine transformation
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Decline in life sciences engagement hits areas related to innovation—a key area necessary to foster genuine transformation
PHILADELPHIA - Thursday, October 24th 2013 [ME NewsWire]

Hay Group’s global database of employee opinions shows a drop in employees’ ratings of management efforts to get ideas from employees, employees’ respect for management capabilities, and feedback provided on performance

(BUSINESS WIRE)-- While one might expect to see engagement levels for employees in the tumultuous life sciences arena plunge in the last five or six years, focusing on where these drops have occurred can help guide organizations as they scramble to confront the biggest change in their industry in decades. According to data from Hay Group’s global employee opinion database, composed of input from over 6.7 million employees surveyed in over 400 organizations worldwide, many of the areas in decline in life sciences organizations are those key to implementing a major shift to a customer focus that shows value. And the lifeblood of this change will be innovation—not just scientifically, but across the entire range of operations. However, Hay Group engagement data on innovation and related areas are those in the steepest decline.

This release is part of a continuing discussion of changes in the life sciences industry and the "human capital solutions” that can most effectively address them—inspired by Hay Group’s White Paper—"Transforming to Succeed: Make Market Access a Competitive Advantage in the Changing Life Sciences Landscape.” Visit: Transforming to Succeed

Some limited positives

On the positive side, some stability seems to have returned to headcount over the last 10 years. Employees are feeling better about their job security (up from 62% favorable in the 2003-2007 period to 72% favorable in the 2008-2012 period). Apparently, those who remain or who have been hired in the past five years are well-positioned in their organizations and have been rewarded well. Satisfaction with incentive and bonus compensation has risen from 51% in the earlier period to 66% in the current period.

"While this is an encouraging sign that may indicate a new stability,” says Ian Wilcox, head of the Hay Group Global Life Sciences Sector, "our other observations and study of actual reward practices in life sciences do not suggest any ’progressive‘ change in how incentives are measured and used to alter behavior. And, in terms of employee opinions, we find many more areas with declining scores—all vital in order to weave innovation into the fabric of the organization and thus spearhead successful transformation.”

Focus on innovation lags

One of the more troubling trends in the database is a ten-point 2003-2007 to 2008-2012 drop in ratings of company efforts at "innovation in developing products and services.” This result is accompanied by a related eight-point decline in ratings of innovation in "how work is done” (using new technologies or creative approaches to improve internal effectiveness).

"Innovation across the board—not just in the purely scientific area—will be required to create organizations that can meet the demands of the changing marketplace,” says Hay Group’s Wilcox. "We envision that people in successful life sciences companies in the future will view their roles, their customers and their organizations through a much different lens than today. We really are talking about a mindset change. Anything less will likely come up short—and that’s why human capital solutions will be premium solutions.”

Factors stifling innovation

Many of the other items in the Hay Group database with scores in even greater decline highlight engagement shortfalls that left unaddressed would likely stifle the growth of a culture of innovation. For instance, the database reveals double-digit declines on vital issues such as "the company’s effort to get the ideas and opinions of employees” (-19 vs. 2003-2007); whether the company "is effectively managed and well-run” (-17); employees’ "trust and confidence in managers” (-11); and the extent to which employees "receive clear and regular feedback” (-12).

According to Mark Royal, Hay Group Senior Principal, "To sustain the high levels of motivation that lead employees to go above and beyond in search of new solutions, organizations will need to give employees confidence that their organizations are well led and headed in the right direction.

"Critical to optimizing work processes, especially in dynamic environments where goals and objectives are frequently changing, is leveraging the ideas and input of employees at all levels and keeping them focused on the right performance goals.”

Engagement for Innovation—and more

Adds Hay Group’s Royal: "These trends from our employee opinion database can help by directing companies’ focus toward key issues—a vital first step allowing organizations to identify specific areas needing improvement.”

Wilcox asserts that while employee engagement is essential for success in almost any business, it is doubly important in a changing industry such as life sciences. The top-to-bottom mindset change that he endorses are not just changes to organizational structure—and will be necessary to kick start innovation.

Wilcox concludes: "Human capital will lead the life sciences resurgence. And an engaged workforce will be a necessity in order to innovate, truly transform and ultimately compete at the highest levels.”

About Hay Group

Hay Group is a global management consulting firm that works with leaders to transform strategy into reality. We develop talent, organize people to be more effective and motivate them to perform at their best. Our focus is on making change happen and helping people and organizations realize their potential. Visit

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