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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Eschewing the Escalation of Salaries as Safety Professionals Grow Scarcer

How to retain relevant, experienced safety and regulatory talent has arguably never been higher up the list of conversation topics in life sciences than it is today, as younger professionals’ ambitions for a broad base of experience conflict with firms’ needs to hang onto the expertise they have invested in. The challenge appears to be a global one too, judging by the wide spectrum of comments at the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference in London last November. There, attendees from both sides of the Atlantic gave voice to their concerns and swapped ideas for combatting the talent shortfall and the risk of skilled practitioners moving on to seemingly greener pastures.

Biotech companies are disproportionately vulnerable, unable to match the salaries and ‘on-paper’ benefits of the global pharma giants. Too often, these more modest-sized organisations provide new graduates with a firm foundation in pharmacovigilance (PV), only for a larger brand to poach them – wooing them with a more senior version of the same role and a 20% hike in salary.

Money Isn’t Everything

There is a growing realisation among life science employers that they must come up with new and creative ways to foster and hold on to rising talent to stay competitive. Whatever the care needed when generalising about ‘millennials’ as a single category of employee, it is clear that there has been a shift in values among those in the earlier stages of their working life. As well as being hungry for a greater range of career experiences, for example, newer graduates are reputedly less influenced by salary than previous generations. Freedom to explore, create, innovate, and experiment at work are often among their personal priorities, along with the ability to protect their work-life balance, which may mean being able to apply for extended periods off work to fulfil extracurricular ambitions, work from home, or have more control over their working hours.

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Alan White is CEO at Arriello, a specialist global provider of innovative, high-impact market access, regulatory affairs, and pharmacovigilance solutions and services for pharma and biotech firms primarily in Europe and North America.
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