Building a Good Experience-led Retention Plan around Rising Retiring Workforce 0

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In an exclusive interview with All Things Talent, Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Active Pharma Sciences Limited talks about how the Pharma industry is going to see a major churn due to Covid, both in terms of talent and business.

Q. What is the present work model for Solara Active Pharma Sciences Limited?

A. The plant is working at full capacity. In the offices, we do have some flexibility like a three or four times a week work model. We would certainly like to have more people in the office. Earlier, meetings were held on teams. Now, we have it more in-person. Covid-19 norms are in place – masks, sanitisers, temperature checks, declarations, and others. We had allowed up to 50% of the people on the premises till September. Now, we have increased it to 70%. We have also devised a roster. Since we are present at multi-locations, we have asked our people to report to any of the offices located near their homes. The focus now will be keeping the workforce healthier – mentally, physically, and socially.

Q.What is the biggest change that pandemic has brought in, in terms of the Pharma sector?

A. The Pharma industry is going through a churn. It is always in an ethical human dilemma. Typically, the industry makes money when people require medicines to treat their illnesses. Right now, because of Covid, hygiene standards have gone up in the world. So, the cases of sickness or illness have come down. What it means is, while chronic illnesses will continue to be treated, there will be extra pressure on Pharma companies to innovate and speed-up new products which will cater to a new set of illnesses that might occur in the future.

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Pharma will go through a churn in the business and product portfolio. It will also have another cycle where the talent movement or talent churning will also happen. I think like any other manufacturing setup, Pharma may also be looking at creating a cost-optimisation or a more efficient way of producing. The mantra will remain the same – how to do more with less i.e. manpower utilisation, capability, and hiring plan.

“Pharma will go through a churn in the business and product portfolio. It will also have another cycle where the talent movement or talent churning will also happen.”

Q.You mentioned that you would like to have more Gender Diversity in the firm. Can you please elaborate on it?

A.Typically, Pharma has two sectors – API and formulation. For API, since it’s hardcore manufacturing, you don’t see gender diversity on the shop floor. However, there’s some diversity around in Quality and Support functions. So, we are looking at having women on the shop floor but that’s more of a long-term plan.

Q. How will the churn impact talent in the industry?

A. I think that the retiring population in the Pharma sector will increase. If you look at Pharma talent profiles, the key part is R&D and that quality comes with experience. Many times, there has not been a regular intake and there is a limited attraction in people to make a career in Pharma.

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So the experienced people will be much more in demand and retaining them will be of main importance. While retaining the high-potential employees will remain the core of our Talent Retention Program, as an industry, we will also be looking at making those employees stay who have spent 6-7 years in the company. That’s where the experience resides. A good experience-led retention plan is what I think will be the next focus.

Q.What is the one trend that you foresee which will set the course for the sector in the coming days?

A. During this COVID period, a lot of new Pharma startups have sprung up. It will be a big test for them to survive now in the non-Covid scenario and product range. If you are a one-product company, what would you do now since Covid is under control? You will either have to expand or get consolidated. Larger companies will take over smaller ones. I would say that in the post-Covid era, there would be a lot of consolidation and M&As.

“While retaining the high-potential employees will remain the core of our Talent Retention Program, as an industry we will also be looking at making those employees stay who have spent 6-7 years in the company. That’s where the experience resides. A good experience-led retention plan is what I think will be the next focus.”  

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Rajeev Singh is the CHRO at Solara Active Pharma Sciences Limited. He has held leadership roles in the HR function across several sectors like Energy, Manufacturing, and Consulting. He recently joined Solara Active Pharma Sciences Limited from ATC Tires. 

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