By Shivani Maitra, Partner, Consulting


This time of year is always a highlight for me as it sees the publication of our annual Global Human Capital Trends report, based on the views of 10,000 survey respondents across 119 countries. This year’s findings reinforce the views of colleagues in the Life Sciences (LS) team, specifically that LS organisations need to rethink the workforce experience, adapt to a more diverse workforce and transform their approach to leadership development.

Below, I explore some of the headline findings in the Global report, and also the findings from the 171 LS organisations that responded to the survey, to identify the key messages for LS organisations highlighted by our research.

Global Human Capital Trends 2019

What is increasingly evident from our annual survey, is that economic, social and political pressures are intensifying the challenges facing most organisations. In the 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report we described the rise of the social enterprise - organisations whose aim is to combine revenue growth and profit-making with the need to respect and support their environment and stakeholder network.1 This year’s findings demonstrate that the pressures driving the rise of the social enterprise have become even more acute, forcing organisations to move beyond mission statements and philanthropy to reinvent themselves around a human focus.2

When chief executive officers were asked to rate their most important measure of success in 2019, the number one issue they cited was ‘impact on society, including income inequality, diversity, and the environment.’ The social enterprise is about organisations engaging differently – both internally and externally – an approach that goes beyond generating profits to generating ‘profits with purpose’. In other words, their purpose is both generating a profit and delivering a return to shareholders, while improving the lot of workers, customers, and their local communities. Since 2018, many organisations have begun to move in this direction, but more needs to be done.

Moreover, we believe that as well as focusing on their purpose, organisations need to put meaning back into work. With the pace of technology and innovation transforming every aspect of the workplace, ‘meaning’ is getting lost, leading to increased levels of job dissatisfaction. This in turn can have an adverse impact on productivity. Focusing on meaning at work, is about creating a sense of belonging, and sense of purpose that matters to the employee. As our Human Capital Trends survey shows, this focus is currently lacking in most organisations, including LS companies. Our call to action, therefore, is for organisations to reinvent themselves with a ‘human focus’ to ensure they operate as a social enterprise, and return meaning to the workplace.

What this means for LS organisations

I have organised the actions that LS organisations should take to reinvent themselves in line with the findings in the 2019 Human Capital trends report:

  1. The future of the workforce
  2. The future of the organisation
  3. The future of HR.

1. The future of the workforce
The ‘alternative workforce’ (contract, freelance and gig employment) has grown and is no longer supplementary but mainstream. LS organisations have an opportunity to tap into these alternative types of workers across the range of their business functions by adopting more flexible working arrangements.

Over the next three years the majority of LS respondents expect to increase significantly their use of technologies that augment the workforce, such as AI, robotic process automation and robotics. As organisations adopt these technologies, they are finding that most jobs need to change, becoming more digital, more multidisciplinary, and more data- and information-driven. To benefit from these changes LS organisations need to redesign jobs to focus on the human dimension of work. This, in turn, creates new roles or ‘super jobs’ that combine elements of traditional jobs with integrated roles that take advantage of the significant productivity and efficiency gains that can arise when people work with technology.

2. The future of the organisation
Over 80 per cent of LS respondents recognised the need to put employee experience at the heart of what they do, but less than half felt able to respond effectively. While organisations that have moved to more ‘team-based’ working have seen substantial improvements, specifically around employee engagement, siloed, hierarchical structures are still prevalent in many LS organisations. This presents a major challenge for cross-functional leadership and can undermine the employee experience. To improve engagement, LS leaders should develop a better understanding of what motivates their employees and what rewards their workforce value, and then align these rewards with more agile models of performance measurement and management, including models that support team-based working.

3. The future of HR
The HR function is accountable for leading the response to the changing requirements of talent acquisition. This requires innovative approaches to HR development and transformation, both within the HR function and across the enterprise, including adopting digital technology to augment HR processes such as sourcing candidates and boosting recruitment productivity. It also requires HR to identify new ways to mobilise internal resources and find people in the alternative workforce. Leading organisations are in the process of automating advanced talent acquisition (something only 29 per cent of LS organisations reported that they are currently doing). While HR functions within LS organisations are open to increasing their adoption of technology solutions, 84 per cent of respondents cited the need to increase investment in this area over the coming years.

LS companies also need to enable greater mobility within their organisation, although 60 per cent of LS organisations felt they lacked effective mobility processes and that there was management resistance to internal moves. Yet research shows that the main reason people leave their jobs is the ‘inability to learn and grow’. Moreover, the number one global trend for 2019 is the need for organisations to change the way people learn. Three broad learning trends are emerging: becoming more integrated with work, more personal and a shift, albeit slowly, towards continuous learning.

Harnessing the alternative workforce, driving greater employee engagement and improving HR capability will change fundamentally how organisations engage with their workforce and the environment in which they operate. LS organisations need to create meaning – rather than focusing on purpose – and build a sense of belonging for their workplace. Specifically, as highlighted in the Global Capital Trends report, LS organisations should create a workplace where ‘profit meets purpose, talent trumps technology and the social enterprise reigns supreme’. Implementing the above actions, should also enable LS organisations to remain sustainable and become an employer of choice.

Hct The Human Capital 2019 report surveyed 171 LSHC respondents across 36 countries. More details, and the full report can be found at QR

Shivani Maitra - Partner, Deloitte Consulting

Shivani is a partner in Deloitte Consulting’s London office where she leads the Life Sciences team for Human Capital. She has over 21 years of experience in Organisation Transformation and has advised clients globally across Europe, the Americas and South Asia. She is part of the core team of Human Capital partners in Deloitte UK who are developing solutions for clients on the Future of Work and the impact of emerging technologies and ways of working on the workforce.

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