Pharmaceutical engineering and the millennial workforce


The entry of millennials into the workforce has been the biggest revolution the employment landscape has seen in decades. Millennials are a world apart from the generations that came before them. Having grown up in a technologically connected world, disruption, change, fluidity, innovation are all concepts they’re familiar with at a granular level. Their whole persona has been shaped by being able to adapt quickly to remarkable changes. Consequently, millennials are always open to innovation and a new way of doing things.

Bucking convention comes easy to millennial workers today who are abandoning the notion of staying at 9 to 5 jobs for years at a stretch. They prefer the freedom of owning their careers. They want to be passionate about the companies they work for and the work they do. It’s why a number of them prefer to opt for careers as solopreneurs or freelancers. The excitement and thrill that comes with continuous fresh challenges and new projects are what drives them.

Health is also at the forefront for millennials. 94% of them regularly discuss health and wellness regularly with friends and family. An overwhelming 69% of them want to be the first to know and share information around health and health trends. Spending on healthcare – health foods, supplements, fitness – comes easily to them.

Millennials are also more ecologically and socially conscious and many of them feel pharma profits should be capped, with the excess pumped back into R&D efforts or in subsidising the needs of the economically vulnerable. Having said this, millennials know, understand and appreciate that the pharmaceutical industry produces medicines, vaccines and cures for all.

The pharmaceutical engineering industry needs to get better at demonstrably communicating the globally competitive advantages of working in the industry to recruit the talent we need. We need to showcase the diversity of roles and the continually evolving career paths and emphasise on how these career paths are saving lives across the world.

One obvious solution is to appeal to the altruistic nature of millennials. Millennials want careers that positively impact their communities and the world. They like collaborative work, are very comfortable using new media, especially social channels and are easily the most tech-savvy generation yet. These are all attributes our industry needs right now.

The increasing use of automation over decades means that the pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical engineering industries are among the most high-tech industries in the world. Further, these industries are engaged in real work that actively and positively impacts the world.

So how do we engage?

Understanding the different focal points, especially in health and wellness, in the millennial perspective is key. The millennial pursuit of health and wellness is enhanced by their technology fascination. But this fascination doesn’t come at the cost of their human roots. They want to stay connected with the world. They want to feel empowered to make a difference without feeling like they are owned by their work or employers.

Self-reliance is the ultimate millennial aim. Helping millennials realise their goals while being open and engaging about pharmaceutical engineering’s innovations to support them in their health ambitions will help create a relationship with mutual trust and respect.

Meaning and Purpose

Millennials are not looking only for a job or even a career. They want their work to having meaning and for it to impact the world. They want work they’re passionate about. They want to give back to society and Corporate Social Responsibility is a huge influencing factor. To entice millennials into the pharmaceutical industry, we need to objectively communicate how their work will make a difference across the world. We need to spell this out for them early and clearly.

Opportunity & Challenge

Millennials thrive on challenging opportunities and assignments, especially if they come with the opportunity to travel. Another strategy to enlist ambitious millennials is mentoring. Mentoring is not high on cost and the impact a well-planned mentoring initiative can have is significant, provided it is rolled out with appropriate training and organisational support.

Timely, Honest Communication

Millennials are rarely content sitting on their laurels. They’re constantly looking for avenues to expand and grow and are always looking for feedback. As tech-savvy as the generation may be, they value in-person feedback and interactions. Early and frequent feedback is what works best with them.

Interest in Personal Career Path

This is true not just for millennials. Knowing that the organisation and management are interested and involved in someone’s personal career path works no end in boosting their motivation and performance levels. Millennials especially see this as an environment where someone is looking out for them. Millennials are more likely to participate in assessment programs with development at their core, viewing them as an investment in their future leading to opportunities for growth.

Values & Vision

Millennials don’t look only at the public brand of a company. The company’s employer brand is equally important in attracting millennials. They prefer working with companies whose values mirror or resemble their own.

Attentive Management

Millennials want to be listened to and it is very important for them to be able to share their inputs. Having management that takes a genuine interest in them, their ambitions, their interests, their values is what resonates with them. More frequent reviews – quarterly instead of annual, for example – might work better with millennials, giving them increased opportunities to share inputs and receive feedback.

Terms & Conditions

Unlike previous generations, money does not matter to the same degree for millennials. They will willingly forego financial remuneration for more meaningful or impactful work or for a more flexible lifestyle. A workplace that provides learning opportunities and personal growth coupled with flexible work and autonomy will work better at engaging millennial talent.

Any company looking to attract millennials – any company anywhere in the world now actually – needs to ensure their value proposition to candidates matches the needs and values of the millennial generation.

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