Great Resignation: Top 5 Challenges in Pharma

  • Published:
    Jul 11, 2022
  • Category:
    White Paper
  • Topic:
    Life Sciences

In 2021, 47 million Americans quit their jobs. This worker trend, known as the “Great Resignation,” continues to gain momentum. Resignation rates in 2022 are at an all-time high, with more than four million people voluntarily leaving their jobs each month. 

This begs the question: how long will the Great Resignation last? And more importantly, what does it mean for the life sciences industry? 

In this article, we’ll explore what the Great Resignation is and how it’s impacting life sciences. Let’s get started! 

Jump to…

Great Resignation: An Overview

What is the Great Resignation?

Also known as the “Big Quit,” the Great Resignation is an economic trend ushered in by COVID, whereby workers are quitting their jobs in pursuit of better opportunities. In particular, people report leaving for

  • Higher pay
  • Improved benefits
  • Flexible work
  • Better work-life balance
  • More opportunities to advance

How did the Great Resignation begin?

On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID a global pandemic. In response, federal and local governments imposed various restrictions including:

  • School and non-essential business closures
  • Reduced operational capacity for essential businesses
  • Social distancing requirements
  • Travel restrictions

An economic downturn ensued, with 10 million Americans losing their jobs. But where there is chaos, there is also opportunity. 

As non-essential businesses shifted to remote work, creating a better work-life balance, workers across all industries began to rethink their priorities. With flexible work schedules and more time to dedicate to family, friends, and self-care activities, a work-from-home revolution began. 

How is the Great Resignation impacting life sciences?

While business growth remains steady, forward-thinking life science organizations are restructuring candidate offerings, as well as the working conditions, to recruit and retain talent.

Growth in the life science industry continues to trend upward, remaining unscathed from the pandemic. Eighteen top pharma and biotech companies, including Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, created tens of thousands of new jobs during this period. As such, it comes as no surprise that drugs and pharmaceuticals account for the majority of new opportunities (35%).

However, it’s not always sunny in Philadelphia.

In many cases, there are more open roles than there are candidates to fill them. To attract and retain top talent, life science companies have to restructure their offerings. In addition to increased flexibility, workers also expect competitive pay and better working conditions.

Now, Let’s Dive into the 5 Top Challenges Facing Life Science Companies Due to the Great Resignation:

Challenge #1: Labor Shortages

Compared to 2020, 2021 noted a 3.6% increase in life science workers resigning. This worker exodus directly correlates with the pandemic, and its resulting burnout on the pharma and manufacturing professionals working on the frontlines throughout COVID. 

High vacancies have caused drug development and manufacturing bottlenecks. Without adequate staff, production time is increased, and output reduces. This creates a ripple effect, leading to nationwide drug shortages which poses a significant risk to the people who rely on medications to manage various conditions. 

Among increasing resignations, the demand for talent remains high. According to a recent survey, 71% of life science companies plan to increase their workforce in 2022. 

To combat labor shortages and keep up with the next-gen workforce, it’s increasingly important for pharma and manufacturing companies to rethink outdated processes. Lack of modern conveniences (such as updated tech) causes: 

  • Decreased worker efficiency
  • Unnecessary stress
  • Increased pressure

Over time, these factors compound leading to higher-than-normal quit rates, the implications of which are felt nationwide.

Challenge #2: Employee Retention

There’s no question about it — it’s a worker's market. Across the US, there are currently more than 11 million job vacancies. These openings, coupled with the number of people who are resigning each month, make employee retention a real challenge. 

Unlike other fields that can pluck and train recent graduates, pharma and manufacturing organizations rely on skilled workers with years of experience. Talent replacement costs alone average 2.5 times the salary of the employee, making attrition a main priority. 

But workers aren’t immune to the allure of more attractive opportunities, even those who identify as happy in their current roles. 

Flexible, inclusive environments that offer better advancement opportunities will continue to attract top-tier talent. Additionally, younger generations expect new technologies and more efficient processes in the workplace.

Challenge #3: Retiring Boomers 

The biopharma market is expected to reach a CAGR of 7.32% from 2022 to 2027, and reach a valuation of $534.19 billion. This rapid growth comes with the promise of new treatments for life-threatening, chronic, and rare diseases. 

But there’s one major problem: COVID didn’t just open the floodgates to the Great Resignation, it also created an early retirement boom in the US. Millions of Boomers are retiring sooner than expected across all industries. 

In pharma, as seasoned experts retire before their roles are filled, they leave gaps in the industry. As a result, current employees are expected to pick up the slack. This creates a vicious cycle where workers may feel overwhelmed, stressed, and more prone to burnout. Plus, exhausted workers are more likely to make mistakes that impact the entire organization. 

To maximize speed while reducing pressure on existing employees, forward-thinking pharma companies are leveraging unified, cloud-based tech. This tech reduces resource waste and empowers teams to easily capture and share video calls and trainings. These insights provide a two-fold advantage: new hires can get up to speed quickly, while seasoned employees can brush up on best practices anytime.

Challenge #4: Digital Disruption

Transformation within pharma and manufacturing is happening at an accelerated pace, thanks in large part to the pandemic. But it may not be enough. 

Many companies still rely on antiquated systems, like paper, to maintain batch records and record processes. This is essentially the equivalent of writing a book by hand when a computer is readily available — it’s not appealing to younger generations. 

91% of Gen-Z workers report a company’s tech will influence their employment decisions. This generation, raised with smartphones and tablets, expects to work with cutting-edge technology. 

To future-proof operations and remain competitive, it’s important for organizations to adopt modern, AI-powered tech and cloud-based systems. Empowered with this technology, companies can increase productivity, reduce the likelihood of errors, and keep employees engaged.

Challenge #5: Distributed Workforce

Remote and hybrid work arrangements are no longer “nice to have perks” for workers. Instead, these offerings are an essential, and expected, aspect of post-COVID work. According to a recent survey, 60% of US workers want to continue working from home. Employees who aren’t offered flexibility are quitting in droves. 

In order to attract and retain talent, pharma and manufacturing companies need to be forward-thinking. This means embracing remote collaboration, even in a post-pandemic world. Success boils down to having the right tech in place, which is why 80% of the top US pharma organizations are leveraging cloud-based tech

This AI-powered tech enhances:

  • Productivity
  • Collaboration
  • Workflow 

Equipped with the right technology, remote collaboration is a breeze! 

Closing Thoughts: Top Talent Expects Top Tech

COVID disrupted everything about how people live, work, and think about their lives. 

As workers shifted to remote and hybrid environments, they started to rethink their careers, mental health, financial goals, and self-care schedules. This transformation ushered in the Great Resignation. 

To streamline recruitment and keep attrition low, leading organizations are implementing: 

  • Hybrid work environments
  • Cutting-edge technology 
  • Remote collaboration 
  • Competitive offerings 

Skilled employees and new market entrants are prioritizing their well-being more than ever before. As such, they expect to work with top tech that promotes collaboration, increases productivity, decreases friction and stress, and allows for flexible work arrangements.

Keep Up with the Next-Gen Workforce 

Want to keep retention up? That was a trick question — of course you do! 

Start by adopting top tech to keep your team happy. Remember, in a post-COVID world, workers expect to have a better work-life balance. 

Plus, 91% of new Gen-Z entrants specifically mentioned technology will influence where they choose to work. As such, it’s important to implement cutting-edge technology that empowers your employees to work smarter, not harder. 

Our Tempo Manufacturing Cloud allows your team to operate in real time from a single shared system. Plus, it combines both manufacturing and lab execution systems, optimizing speed and accuracy. 

To learn more about how cloud-based technology can help you keep up with the next-gen workforce, get in touch. Our team of experts is here to help. 



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