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Pharma companies look to boost employee retention

Published on 27/11/15 at 11:09am
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Sun Pharma is one of several companies exploring new recruitment strategies

Drug firms in India are devising novel 'benching' models to manage employee turnover.

Attrition rates for pharma companies in India are as high as 25%, which has prompted companies to take action to prevent further losses and retain staff. Firms are increasingly working with recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) companies to maintain a pool of readily available people in pharma industry specialities – such as R&D and sales and marketing – to fill vacancies quickly and avoid losses while positions remain vacant.

The Indian pharmaceutical market reported growth of 13% in 2015, and to take advantage of the growth, Novartis, Abbott, India’s Lupin Pharmaceuticals and Sun Pharma, Pfizer and Mankind are all signed up to similar agreements.

"Bench concept means keeping buffer or additional resources with anticipation of more business demand or to manage attrition. A pool of experienced applicants is created through passive or active hiring and this pool is absorbed based on the demand," Hussain Tinwala, assistant vice president at Team-Lease, a provider of HR services, told India’s The Economic Times.

The change was prompted by new regulations – drug price control order – introduced in India in 2013, Tinwala says. "In the pharmaceutical industry, any position vacant in a territory is a loss of business to the organisation. Firms are now recruiting more people within a territory segment to ensure the business continuity. The bench model reduces the time spent on the entire hiring cycle in case of exigencies," he said.

The RPO trend is gaining traction in the Indian drug industry – one of the world’s largest. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals executive vice president and global head of human resources Rajendra Ambekar said the largest shift is being seen in the salesforce.

"Attraction of talent to the pharma industry is a challenge as it is not most sought after. It is also critical to have the feet on ground most of the time or the space would be taken away by competitors. In this scenario, the turnaround time for hiring becomes extremely critical. In this background creating a bench staff helps a lot in immediate staffing of vacant positions."

Lilian Anekwe

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