How to ‘Flex Work’ in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

What is Flex Work?

Flex work, known also as flexible working, means giving employees more control over when, where, and how they work.

This can include remote working, flexible hours, compressed workweeks, and job sharing. The idea really took off during the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses had to adapt to keep things running smoothly.

Flexible working has become a big deal in many industries, and pharma is no exception. This blog dives into what flexible working is, where it came from, and why it’s important for the pharmaceutical sector. We’ll look at the benefits and challenges, different working models, and how to implement flex work in a way that works for everyone.

I know flexible working is a hot topic, and there’s a ton of stuff out there about it. I’ll focus on insights and tips tailored specifically for pharma companies, tackling industry-specific challenges and opportunities.

Best Way to Implement Flexible Working in Pharma

Bringing flexible working to the pharmaceutical industry takes some thought and planning. Here are some key steps to make it work:

  1. Assess Job Roles and Responsibilities: Not every job in pharma can be done remotely. Figure out which roles can be flexible without hurting productivity or compliance.
  2. Invest in Technology: Make sure employees have the right tech to do their jobs well from anywhere. This means secure VPNs, collaboration tools, and data management systems.
  3. Provide Training: Help employees and managers learn the skills they need for remote work. This includes using digital tools, good communication practices, and keeping a healthy work-life balance.
  4. Set Clear Expectations: Lay down the rules for flexible working. This includes work hours, availability, communication, and performance metrics.
  5. Monitor and Evaluate: Keep an eye on how well flexible working is going. Get feedback from employees and tweak things as needed to make it better.

Should a Four-Day Week Be Considered?

A four-day workweek is becoming popular as companies look to boost work-life balance and productivity. Here’s how it stacks up for the pharmaceutical industry:

Pros:

  • Enhanced Focus and Productivity: Shorter weeks can mean better focus and less burnout.
  • Attracting Talent: A four-day week is a great perk, helping you attract and keep top talent.
  • Reduced Operational Costs: Fewer workdays can cut down on utilities and other costs.

Cons:

  • Potential for Increased Workload: Employees might feel pressured to cram the same work into fewer days.
  • Scheduling Challenges: Coordinating meetings and deadlines in a shorter week can be tricky.
  • Impact on Client Services: Keeping up with client needs and project timelines could get tougher.

Should We Go Fully Remote, Hybrid, or Office-Based?

Choosing the right working model is key. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each:

Fully Remote:

  • Pros: Maximum flexibility, lower overhead costs, and higher job satisfaction.
  • Cons: Challenges with collaboration and maintaining company culture. Some roles, like lab work, can’t be done remotely.

Hybrid:

  • Pros: Best of both worlds—flexibility with some in-office time for face-to-face interaction.
  • Cons: Requires careful planning to ensure smooth transitions. Can lead to inconsistent team dynamics.

Office-Based:

  • Pros: Easy collaboration and access to on-site resources. Great for spontaneous discussions and team building.
  • Cons: Less flexibility and higher operational costs. Might not attract those seeking better work-life balance.

What is the Ratio of Home, Hybrid, Office Within Pharma?

Pharma is leaning towards hybrid models, with many companies adopting a mix of home and office work. The exact split varies, but hybrid setups are the most common as they offer a good balance of flexibility and collaboration.

Case Studies in the Pharmaceutical Industry about Flex Work Models

AstraZeneca uses a hybrid model, with employees working both from home and the office. This setup has boosted productivity and employee satisfaction. They’ve invested in digital tools to support remote work and set clear guidelines for effective communication.

GSK: Offers various flexible working options, including remote work, flexible hours, and part-time roles. These arrangements have increased employee engagement and reduced turnover. They also provide robust training for managers to handle remote teams effectively.

Novartis: Has a “Choice with Responsibility” policy, letting employees choose their work arrangements while meeting their responsibilities. This has created a culture of trust and accountability, leading to more innovation and collaboration.

Other Case Studies

Pharmaceutical organisations like MSD, Medtronic, Roche, Novartis, and UCB have been at the forefront of implementing effective hybrid working practices even before the pandemic. These companies operate as matrix organisations, with cross-functional and project-based teams rather than permanent teams.

Key takeaways from their experience:

  • Clear Framework: It’s essential to establish a clear framework for remote work. This includes defining rules (such as minimum or maximum days for working from home) that everyone can align with. Communicating this framework creatively, such as through podcasts or webinars, helps ensure consistency.
  • Balancing Management Styles: Managers need to strike a balance between nurturing team members (checking in on well-being) and focusing on output (deliverables). Adopting management by outcome—setting clear objectives and empowering individuals with autonomy—can lead to sustained success.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) – Sustained Implementation of Hybrid Working

  • The RPS developed a robust hybrid working strategy with the help of experts. Their step-by-step roadmap facilitated a smooth transition from the concept of hybrid working to its sustained implementation.

Flexible and Hybrid Working Practices: Case Studies by CIPD

  • The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) explores various aspects of flexible and hybrid working through case studies. These include transitioning to new ways of working, stakeholder engagement, technology adoption, managing hybrid teams, maintaining relationships, supporting well-being, and focusing on performance outcomes.

These case studies provide valuable insights into how pharmaceutical organisations have successfully embraced hybrid working models.

What next with Flex Work?

Pharma faces unique challenges and opportunities with flexible working. By understanding different models and implementing best practices, companies can create a work environment that supports both business goals and employee well-being. Whether it’s a four-day week, a hybrid model, or balancing remote and office work, the key is to stay flexible and responsive to the needs of the workforce.

In the end, flexible working isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Each pharma company needs to figure out what works best for them. By doing so, they can boost productivity, attract top talent, and ensure their employees are happy and healthy, driving the industry forward in a changing world.

OUR FOCUS ON LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIPS

At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework
please get in touch with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

Please visit our website to see more of our knowledge hub: https://refind.co.uk/

Women Leading the Way in Aviation

In the typically male-dominated world of aviation, women have often been left on the sidelines. But as the industry grows, especially in emerging markets, there’s a noticeable increase in female pilots, engineers, and executives who are reshaping the sector.

My blog looks at how these trailblazing women are key to its future.

How did we get here?

The male dominance in aviation is like many other technical and engineering fields. Historically it stems from a mix of societal norms, educational opportunities, and professional barriers that were skewed against women. Here’s a rundown of the main reasons why aviation has traditionally been a boys’ club:

  • Historical Norms and Perceptions: Back in the day, jobs that involved physical labour, machinery, and tech were seen as no-go areas for women. This was thanks to outdated gender stereotypes. Aviation, mixing mechanical engineering with hefty physical demands, especially in the early days, was no exception.
  • Educational Barriers: For a big chunk of the 20th century, women often had limited access to the science and tech education needed for a career in aviation. These educational paths were pretty much designed for and marketed to men, creating a hefty barrier to entry for women.
  • Legal and Institutional Restrictions: In many places, women were legally barred from certain jobs or working conditions. For instance, female pilots were often kept from flying commercial or military aircraft until well into the latter half of the 20th century.
  • Cultural Bias and Discrimination: Even when it was legal for women to join in, cultural biases often discouraged or outright excluded women from getting into or moving up in the field. This discrimination could come from within the industry through hiring practices, within training programmes, or socially through pressure and expectations about what jobs were ‘suitable’ for women.
  • Visibility and Role Models: A lack of female faces also keeps the cycle going where young women have fewer role models in the field. This lack of visibility can turn off interest and keep the gender imbalance going as fewer women enter the field, succeed, and act as role models for the next generation.
  • Work-Life Balance Challenges: Careers in aviation can involve weird hours, lots of travel, and long periods away from home, which can be extra tough for women who often take on bigger caregiving roles in their families.

How do we keep making aviation more inclusive?

To make sure the aviation industry becomes fully inclusive and keeps moving forward in gender diversity, we can take several proactive steps. These strategies focus on systemic change, education, policy implementation, and cultural shifts, and can be grouped into these subsections:

Education and Visibility:

Boost STEM Education for Girls: Encourage and support girls from a young age to explore science, tech, engineering, and maths (STEM) through school programmes, extracurricular activities, and community initiatives.

Scholarships and Financial Aid: Offer targeted scholarships and financial support for women entering aviation training programmes to help overcome financial barriers.

Spotlight on Success: Regularly highlight the achievements of women in aviation through media, seminars, and industry events to boost visibility and inspire the next generation.

Recruitment and Workplace Policies:

Inclusive Job Ads: Make sure job postings use welcoming language and clearly state that the organisation values diversity.

Diverse Hiring Panels: Use varied recruitment panels to help cut down on unconscious bias in the hiring process.

Flexible Work Options: Roll out flexible working hours and remote working options where possible to help employees manage work-life balance.

Fair Parental Leave: Offer fair parental leave for all parents, encouraging shared responsibilities at home and supporting women’s career continuity.

Professional Growth and Cultural Change:

Equal Opportunities for Advancement: Set clear, merit-based criteria for advancement to ensure women have the same chances to climb to senior roles.

Ongoing Training: Offer continuous training and professional development programmes to all employees, helping women gain the skills and qualifications needed to move up.

Anti-Discrimination Policies: Enforce strong policies against discrimination and harassment, with clear reporting mechanisms and consequences for misconduct.

Inclusive Culture Initiatives: Build an inclusive culture through workshops, training on unconscious bias, and regular chats on diversity and inclusion.

Industry-Wide and Community Initiatives:

Collaboration and Partnerships: Work with other companies, governments, and non-profit organisations to promote gender diversity across the industry.

Standards and Benchmarks: Set up and stick to industry-wide benchmarks for diversity and inclusion, with regular reporting and accountability.

Support Advocacy Groups: Partner with organisations that promote women in aviation, offering support through funding, resources, and joint initiatives.

Community Engagement: Get involved with local communities to educate and raise awareness about careers in aviation for women.

Breaking New Ground:

For years, the image of aviation professionals was pretty uniform—typically male. But this image is changing, especially in emerging markets like India, China, and parts of Africa, where more women are getting into aviation careers. Educational institutions and training programmes are pulling in more female talent, showing that the sector is ready to embrace diversity.

Empowering Change:

Several governments and aviation bodies in these markets are actively pushing for gender diversity. Initiatives like scholarships for female students, mentoring programmes tailored for women, and networking events are making a real difference. These efforts don’t just support individual women—they enrich the entire industry by bringing in new ideas and approaches.

Trailblazing Pilots:

The rise in the number of female pilots is one of the most visible signs of change. Women are now flying for both commercial giants and boutique carriers, and they’re doing so with exceptional skill and resilience. Their growing presence is not only inspiring but also crucial in breaking down outdated stereotypes.

Engineering the Future:

Beyond the cockpit, women are also leading innovations in aviation engineering and technology. From aerodynamic design to sustainability solutions, they are at the forefront of modern aviation challenges. Their contributions are vital in driving technological advancements and enhancing safety protocols across the industry.

Overcoming Challenges:

Despite these advances, women in aviation still face significant hurdles. Issues like gender bias, fewer opportunities for advancement compared to male counterparts, and the struggle to maintain work-life balance are still widespread. Addressing these challenges is essential for building a truly inclusive industry.

New Horizons:

An emerging topic of interest is the role of women in the development of sustainable aviation technologies. Now the industry focuses on reducing its environmental footprint. And female engineers and leaders are playing critical roles in crafting eco-friendly innovations.

Looking Ahead:

The future of aviation in emerging markets looks increasingly female. Encouraging inclusivity, diversity, and equality will unlock vast potential and drive significant growth within the industry. By supporting and promoting women in aviation, we can ensure a robust, dynamic, and equitable future.

The landscape of aviation across emerging markets is undergoing a profound transformation. Thanks to the relentless efforts of pioneering women, the industry is not only meeting the challenges of the 21st century but is poised to redefine what is possible. Their achievements pave the way for future generations, ensuring that the sky is no limit.

OUR FOCUS ON LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIPS

At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework
please get in touch with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

Please visit our website to see more of our knowledge hub: https://refind.co.uk/

HR Transformation: Everything You Need to Know

As businesses evolve and grow, their HR practices must keep pace, here is everything you need to know about HR Transformation and what I have learnt over the past 15 years on working in this market… hopefully this article should give you insight of everything you need to know to land your HR tansformation programme successfully.

HR transformation is a process of overhauling an organisation’s HR practices, systems, and structures to meet the changing demands of the business. The goal of HR transformation is to create a more agile, efficient, and effective HR function that aligns with the organisation’s overall goals and objectives.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about HR transformation, including the benefits, the key HR systems that are implemented, the models that can be used, the potential challenges, and the consulting firms that can help. We’ll also discuss how interim managers can play a valuable role in supporting HR transformation programs.

HR transformation can bring many benefits to an organisation, including:
  1. Improved HR processes: HR transformation can streamline HR processes, making them more efficient and effective. This can reduce administrative burdens, freeing up time for HR professionals to focus on more strategic initiatives.
  2. Better HR systems: HR transformation can involve implementing new HR systems, such as HR information systems (HRIS), talent management systems, and recruitment systems. These systems can improve data accuracy, increase efficiency, and enhance the employee experience.
  3. Increased agility: HR transformation can help organisations become more agile by creating a more flexible and adaptable HR function. This can help organisations respond more quickly to changes in the business environment and market conditions.
  4. Improved employee engagement: HR transformation can lead to a more engaging employee experience, with streamlined processes, better communication, and improved access to HR services.

HR Systems Implemented as Part of HR Transformation Programs

There are several HR systems that are commonly implemented as part of an HR transformation program. Some of the key HR systems include:

  • Human Capital Management (HCM) Systems: These systems are used to manage employee data and automate HR processes such as recruiting, onboarding, performance management, and payroll.
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS): These systems are used to deliver training and development programs to employees and track their progress.
  • Talent Management Systems: These systems are used to manage employee performance, succession planning, and career development.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): These systems are used to manage the recruiting process, from job posting and candidate screening to hiring and onboarding.
  • Time and Attendance Systems: These systems are used to track employee hours worked and manage time off requests.
  • Employee Self-Service (ESS) Systems: These systems allow employees to manage their personal information, access HR policies and procedures, and request time off.
  • Business Intelligence and Analytics Systems: These systems provide HR leaders with data and insights to help them make more informed decisions about talent management, employee engagement, and workforce planning.

Who are the key global HR systems providers?

There are several key global HR systems providers who offer a wide range of HR software solutions. Some of the major HR systems providers include:

  • SAP SuccessFactors: A cloud-based HCM solution that offers modules for core HR, talent management, workforce analytics, and more
  • Workday: A cloud-based HCM solution that offers modules for HR, talent management, payroll, time tracking, and more.
  • Oracle HCM Cloud: A cloud-based HCM solution that offers modules for HR, talent management, payroll, and more.
  • ADP: A provider of cloud-based HCM solutions for payroll, time and attendance, HR, talent management, and more.
  • Cornerstone OnDemand: A cloud-based talent management solution that offers modules for learning and development, performance management, and more.
  • Kronos: A provider of cloud-based HR solutions for time and attendance, workforce management, and payroll.
  • Ultimate Software: A cloud-based HCM solution that offers modules for HR, payroll, talent management, and more.
  • IBM Watson Talent: A suite of HR software solutions that includes modules for talent acquisition, learning and development, and more.

What are the key components of a successful HR model

There are several HR models that can be implemented as part of an HR transformation, depending on the organisation’s specific needs and goals. The most common being the Ulrich HR model or iterations of this. Here are a few examples:

  • HR Business Partner Model: The HR Business Partner model is designed to align the HR function with the strategic goals of the business. In this model, HR professionals act as strategic advisors to business leaders, working closely with them to understand their needs and align HR strategies and practices with business objectives.
  • Shared Services Model: The Shared Services model involves centralising HR services and functions in a shared services centre. This can help organisations achieve greater efficiency, consistency, and cost savings in HR service delivery.
  • Centres of Excellence Model: The Centres of Excellence model involves creating specialised HR teams to support specific areas of HR, such as talent management, employee relations, or HR analytics. This model allows organisations to develop deep expertise in specific areas of HR and provide targeted support to the business.
  • Holistic HR Model: The Holistic HR model involves integrating HR practices with other key business functions, such as finance, operations, and marketing. This model recognises that HR is an integral part of the overall business strategy and seeks to align HR practices with other key functions to achieve a more integrated approach to business management.
  • Agile HR Model: The Agile HR model involves creating a more flexible and responsive HR function that can adapt quickly to changing business needs and market conditions. This model emphasises the importance of collaboration, experimentation, and continuous improvement in HR practices.
  • Digital HR Model: The Digital HR model involves leveraging technology to improve HR processes, enhance the employee experience, and provide better HR analytics and reporting capabilities. This model recognises the importance of technology in modern HR practices and seeks to leverage it to achieve greater efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation in HR service delivery.

What can go wrong during an HR transformation programme

Ulrich HR

Like any major organisational change initiative, HR transformation programs can encounter several challenges that may result in difficulties or failures. Here are a few examples of things that can go wrong during an HR transformation program:

  • Poor Change Management: HR transformation programs require significant changes to HR processes, systems, and organisational structures, which can be disruptive to employees. If change management is not handled effectively, employees may resist the changes, resulting in decreased engagement, productivity, and morale.
  • Lack of Executive Buy-In: Without strong executive buy-in and support, HR transformation programs may struggle to gain momentum and resources, resulting in delays or budget overruns.
  • Insufficient Planning: HR transformation programs require careful planning to ensure that the right HR processes, systems, and structures are put in place. Insufficient planning can lead to misaligned goals, unclear expectations, and inadequate resources.
  • Ineffective Communication: Clear and effective communication is critical for HR transformation programs to succeed. Without effective communication, employees may not understand the changes, leading to confusion, resistance, and reduced engagement.
  • Poor Vendor Selection: HR transformation programs often require the use of external vendors to implement new HR systems or processes. Poor vendor selection can result in delays, budget overruns, and inadequate solutions.
  • Lack of Flexibility: HR transformation programs require flexibility to adapt to changing business needs and market conditions. A lack of flexibility can result in outdated HR processes, systems, and structures that do not support the business.

Which consulting firms can help your HR transformation programme

There are many consulting firms that specialise in HR transformation and can help organisations plan, design, and implement their HR transformation programs. Here are a few examples:

  1. Deloitte: Deloitte offers a range of HR consulting services, including HR transformation, HR technology, HR operations, and talent management. They work with organisations to develop HR strategies and implement HR transformation programs that align with business goals.
  2. PwC: PwC offers HR consulting services that cover a range of areas, including HR transformation, talent management, HR technology, and workforce planning. They help organisations design and implement HR transformation programs that improve HR processes, enhance the employee experience, and support business objectives.
  3. Accenture: Accenture offers HR consulting services that focus on HR transformation, HR technology, talent management, and change management. They work with organisations to develop HR strategies and implement HR transformation programs that drive business growth and improve the employee experience.
  4. KPMG: KPMG offers HR consulting services that cover a range of areas, including HR transformation, talent management, HR technology, and organisational design. They help organisations develop HR strategies and implement HR transformation programs that support business objectives and improve HR service delivery.
  5. Mercer: Mercer offers HR consulting services that focus on HR transformation, talent management, HR analytics, and HR operations. They work with organisations to develop HR strategies and implement HR transformation programs that align with business goals and improve HR service delivery.

Which companies have successfully implemented an HR transformation programme

Many companies have successfully implemented HR transformation programs to improve their HR processes and better align HR with their business goals. Here are a few examples:

  • Unilever: Unilever, a global consumer goods company, implemented an HR transformation program to simplify and streamline its HR processes and better support the company’s growth strategy. The program involved the implementation of a new HR operating model, the consolidation of HR systems, and the creation of a new shared services centre.
  • IBM: IBM undertook a major HR transformation program to create a more agile and responsive HR function that could better support the company’s strategic goals. The program involved the implementation of a new HR service delivery model, the adoption of new HR technologies, and the creation of a new HR analytics function.
  • Procter & Gamble: Procter & Gamble implemented an HR transformation program to create a more customer-focused HR function that could better support the needs of the business. The program involved the implementation of a new HR service delivery model, the adoption of new HR technologies, and the creation of a new HR shared services organisation.
  • Nestle: Nestle implemented an HR transformation program to create a more standardised and efficient HR function across its global operations. The program involved the implementation of a new HR operating model, the adoption of new HR technologies, and the creation of a new HR shared services centre.

How can interim managers help an organisation during an HR transformation programme

Interim managers can play a valuable role in helping organisations during an HR transformation program. Here are a few ways they can assist:

  • Expertise: Interim managers are experienced professionals who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise in HR transformation. They can help organisations navigate the complexities of the transformation program and provide guidance on best practices.
  • Flexibility: Interim managers can be brought in at any stage of the HR transformation program and can be hired for a specific period of time. This flexibility allows organisations to scale resources up or down as needed.
  • Objectivity: Interim managers provide an outside perspective and can help organisations identify areas for improvement or potential roadblocks. They can also provide an objective assessment of the program’s progress and offer recommendations for improvement.
  • Leadership: Interim managers can take on leadership roles within the HR transformation program, providing direction, guidance, and support to the team. They can help ensure that the program is aligned with the organisation’s overall goals and objectives.
  • Implementation: Interim managers can help organisations implement new HR processes, systems, and structures, ensuring that the program is completed on time and within budget.

What are the key HR transformation job roles and what are their responsibilities

There are several key HR transformation job roles that play an important role in driving the HR transformation process. Here are some of the key roles and their responsibilities:

  • A HR Transformation Manager: Responsible for developing and implementing the HR transformation strategy, overseeing the project team, and ensuring successful delivery of the HR transformation program.
  • HR Business Partner: Acts as a strategic advisor to business leaders and ensures alignment between HR initiatives and business goals.
  • An HR Process Analyst: Responsible for analysing existing HR processes and identifying opportunities for improvement and streamlining.
  • HR Data Analyst: Responsible for analysing HR data and providing insights to support decision-making related to talent management, workforce planning, and HR policies.
  • HR Technology Specialist: Responsible for identifying and implementing HR technology solutions that support the organisation’s HR strategy and business objectives.
  • Change Management Specialist: Responsible for managing the people-side of the HR transformation program, including communication, training, and change adoption.
  • HR Project Manager: Responsible for managing the HR transformation project, including scope, timeline, budget, and resources.
  • HR Communications Specialist: Responsible for developing and implementing internal communications strategies that support the HR transformation program and engage stakeholders.

Our Focus On Long-Term Partnerships

At re:find Executive Search we are specialists in HR transformation. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. By building long-term relationships with our clients, we help them to find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

Every organisation is unique and we feel that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. re:find offer bespoke recruitment solutions, that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We commit to providing our clients with the highest quality service. We take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills needed for each campaign.

For more information please get in contact with our Managing Director, James Cumming.