One consequence of The Great Resignation (where employees are voluntarily leaving their organizations) is that the power dynamic between the organization and its employees continues to shift. In the current landscape where there is high demand for talent, employees see the potential options for work increasing and desire greater flexibility. Similarly, organizations that provide fully remote or hybrid-style work increases their access to a wider range of talent.

Retaining talent continues to be a major challenge for almost every pharmaceutical and life sciences organization. Losing critical talent can jeopardize customer relationships, impact business continuity, and result in millions of dollars lost.

Why Retention is Important

The Great Resignation demonstrates the response by employees to the shifting organizational and employment landscape. As a result of this recent trend, organizations must be prepared or risk facing potential declines in productivity, loss of key customers, and declining profitability.

The costs (financial and otherwise) associated with voluntary turnover are significant. Costs to consider include severance, recruitment, hiring, training, reduced productivity, lost opportunity costs, and others.

Estimated employee replacement costs for the average organization:

  • For entry-level employees, between 30% – 50% of annual salary
  • For mid-level employees, upwards of 150% of annual salary
  • For high-level or highly specialized employees, costs can rise to 400% of annual salary

The Great Resignation has taken a toll on organizations and the working population at every level.

Organizational Level

  • Partner with leadership and HR to develop talent management programs that address career development and advancement (e.g., competency models, career pathways, and shared understanding of career development)
  • Identify, understand, and address critical factors leading employees to leave
  • Focus on building and emphasizing a positive and engaging culture and use program offerings to reinforce company values
  • Leverage Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DEI) initiatives to build loyalty and commitment with women and minority groups
  • Use live events to strengthen relationships amongst participants and reinforce company culture

Manager Level

  • Ensure you maintain a positive work environment characterized by open, two-way communication, mutual respect, fairness, and the ability for your people to provide honest and actionable feedback
  • Leverage the performance management process (e.g., goal setting, performance appraisal, coaching and feedback, and rewards and recognition allocation) in a gender-neutral fashion
  • Identify at-risk employees, learn how to “re-recruit” employees, and how to “make a save”
  • Seek out training on research-validated blind spots or deficiencies (e.g., vision, recognition, inadequate networking opportunities)

Individual Level

  • Seek out development that aligns with career aspirations and interests
  • Seek out and plan for professional development and career advancement
  • Take advantage of L&D programming and other development resources
  • Focus on developing learning agility and creating a learning culture
  • Seek out or serve as a mentor/sponsor to other individuals seeking to develop

Final Thoughts

In response to The Great Resignation, most organizations have heightened their focus on talent retention. Proactive organizations can build a competitive advantage by solidifying their brand as an “employer of choice” to attract new talent and build loyalty and commitment among existing employees.

WLH Consulting and Learning Solutions combines our knowledge of industry trends, retention, and human capital expertise to help organizations retain high-performing talent.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

NewslettersTalent RetentionGreat Resignation