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Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Reward Roundtable – Challenges faced and solutions discussed

Further to the success within the Financial Services Reward Roundtables earlier this year, our next Roundtable was with leaders within the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare sectors. Given their prominence in the media and being at the forefront of this pandemic, we were keen to gain an understanding of their agendas and approaches to the current challenges they are facing.

Key themes that were discussed include:

·      Executive pay and bonuses - to ensure that companies are sending out the right messages and businesses are putting their people first, some firms are redirecting funds to the employee populations and some senior executives have taken pay cuts.

·      Salary and Bonus review – will look very different this year. Some companies have put bonuses on hold this year, others have changed their schemes completely and some are purely discretionary.

·      Benefits – There is an overall feeling there will be more of a focus in the future on total compensation rather than just cash. Benefits are becoming an increasingly key part of an employee’s package where cash and bonuses have been the priority before.

·      Physical and mental wellbeing of employees is a key focus and employers must understand employee’s needs – Communication is even more important now as you are not seeing employees every day and you need to know when they are having difficult days.

·      Flexible working – more firms are welcoming this and the last six months has shown that people can work from home effectively!

·      Recognition for those that can’t work from home - There has been a big challenge across the sector around those that aren’t able to work from home such as key workers and how their risk is recognised. There have been different approaches here, some are offering cash incentives, some are offering softer benefits such as free lunches

·      Communication - Remco has been challenging! Influencing is much more difficult when you can’t grab 5 minutes with execs prior to meetings and watercooler chats are no more. Communication is more important than ever especially when meetings are being conducted from home and not face to face.

·      Burn-out culture – Many are working longer hours at home and there is a tendency to have less downtime when there is little differentiation between home and work life.

·      Annual leave - Managers have had to push their employees to take time off and use their annual leave as many haven’t wanted to take leave if they can’t go abroad. Businesses have had to adjust and review their holiday policies with the anticipation around cost for many carrying their annual leave over to next year.

·      Communication is key – Consistent communication has been at the forefront of many organisation with line managers needing to be more visible online to make up for the lack of face to face contact. Strong leadership from senior management and leadership teams and feeling part of a positive workplace clearly helps to motivate staff, even when the workplace is virtual.

It is clear that the resilience of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare sectors has shown; share prices have bounced back in general and businesses are performing well. It is crucial that staff are recognised for the essential work they are doing, and reward teams are integral for ensuring that this happens. It is also just as important to not only focus on financial recognition but to recognise employees physical and mental wellbeing and ensure that everything possible is in place to support their needs.

Oakleaf will be hosting further roundtables over the coming months and it will be interesting to see how companies continue to manage working through the pandemic. If you are a senior reward professional and would like to register your interest in our next roundtable, please get in touch.

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