At TLD Group, we’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months considering the massive changes that are taking place in the health ecosystem, as well as the leaders whose jobs are changing every day because of these disruptions. This month, we’re honing in on the state of life sciences and its impact on executives, specifically leaders in the pharmaceutical sector, who play a critical role in the health ecosystem through researching, developing, and distributing vital treatments.
In this blog, we cover the top three challenges facing life sciences leaders in 2023:
- Heightened consumer awareness of the pharmaceutical industry.
- Increased competition for talent.
- The rapid pace of change in the life science industry.
And three ways that leaders can step up to perform their very best and bring out the best in their teams:
- Build innovative programs and services that increase engagement and access to therapies.
- Retain top talent by investing in career development.
- Learn to anticipate change and how to navigate new regulations.
1. Heightened Consumer Awareness.
The pharmaceutical industry has been under a magnifying glass over the last three years. Consumers watched eagerly in 2020 and 2021 as BioNTech and Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson worked to develop vaccines to fight against COVID-19, and mainstream media covered the industry more than ever before. And just within the last couple of weeks, Eli Lilly cutting the price of insulin became major news.
This isn’t surprising: with the cost of goods rising and increasing concerns about health and wellness, consumers are pushing for cost-effective treatments, and life sciences leaders must be prepared for questions, feedback, and criticism as they work to develop therapies that meet consumer demands.
How to Thrive in an Environment with Heightened Consumer Awareness
Increased consumer awareness isn’t anything to fear. In an environment like this, trust and connection to the consumer are paramount, and educated customers can also become more loyal ones. To support consumer awareness and trust, leaders in life sciences should consider developing innovative programs and services that build engagement and increase access to therapies. Even more broadly, members of the industry should consider shifting their mindset from research “on” patients to research “with” patients. Engaged patients provide meaningful feedback to improve clinical trial design in the interest of finding treatments that work medically and fit into their lives without undue impact.
In a recent TLD Group leadership academy, an action learning team of mid-level leaders across R&D worked to determine steps to improve the patient experience by reducing patient burden while also considering factors like compliance, privacy, and cost of the solution. The participants determined that patients and their caretakers experience frustrations when involved in clinical trials. Contributing factors included pain, invasiveness, harmful exposure, hospitalization, anxiety, and time.
The participants designed and proposed a 1-2 question assessment for patients and caregivers, an optional post-study dialogue to assess the efficacy of innovative approaches, and collective data sharing to refine protocol design and support ongoing improvement. The new program resulted in engaged patients and caregivers and added value for life sciences leaders to thrive among heightened consumer awareness.
2. Increased Competition for Talent.
Employee turnover increased following the “Great Resignation.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, 38.6 million resignations occurred between January and September in 2022. At the same time, one-third of respondents from the life sciences and pharma sector in a survey on 2022 Talent Trends said that talent scarcity is a major pain point for them. The competition to recruit and retain top talent is growing, and leaders from the life sciences industry must be prepared to overcome the challenge of keeping their best employees and offering their consumers the best service.
How to Retain Top Talent Amidst Competition
In our 2023 Trends to Watch Report, we explored how leaders across the health ecosystem can optimize existing talent during an economic downturn. A large part of optimizing talent within your organization is investing in career development for high-potential employees, including executive coaching, strategic succession management, and leadership academies.
According to the 2022 LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Report, employees believe that professional development is the number-one way to improve company culture. Another report found that 86% of professionals would change jobs if a different company gave them more opportunities for professional development. Investing in leaders’ and teams’ professional development and providing opportunities to learn new skills can increase employee satisfaction and increase retention.
TLD Group client Jazz Pharmaceuticals has demonstrated a commitment to retaining their top talent by offering executive coaching to leaders who are taking on increased responsibilities. Their customized coaching programs are designed to impact leadership performance and succession management, creating a win-win for organizations and their employees.
3. The Rapid Pace of Change.
The life sciences industry is experiencing rapid change. The COVID-19 vaccine was developed in record time, and some researchers in the health ecosystem are wondering if other therapies can be even further accelerated. But while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relaxed regulations to address interruptions and needs that arose during the pandemic, regulations are beginning to revert back to normal.
Additionally, all organizations, but especially those in pharmaceutical Research & Development (R&D), are focusing on drug development for underserved communities. In April 2022, the FDA released new guidance to enroll more participants from underrepresented racial and ethnic populations in the U.S. into clinical trials. This is great news, and with it comes additional and evolving responsibilities for leaders to consider as they design and implement R&D protocols for new therapies.
How to Manage the Constantly Changing Environment
To stay ahead of the curve, leaders must learn to anticipate change and how to navigate new regulations from both a business and team perspective. When new guidance or regulations are released, it isn’t only the business that’s impacted — expectations placed on your employees are also affected.
Leadership skills like empathy, communication, agility, and navigating ambiguity are critical to supporting employees during change. Leaders can also prepare by staying informed about current regulations and providing clear guidance and support to employees when other changes take place.
Step up your leadership game in 2023.
As changes continue to arise, the most effective leaders will be the ones who are innovative, confident change agents, and the coaches and consultants at TLD Group are committed to developing and equipping life science leaders to be on their A Game through business challenges. Visit our website to learn more.