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Transformational HR: The Human Connection

01:31 EDT 18 Oct 2016 | Eyeforpharma

With an industry-wide call for pharmaceutical companies to become more patient-focused, the role of human interaction has been placed at the forefront of human resources. In order to provide the best service to patients and other customers, pharma must first embody human-centric principles and behaviors within individual organizations – a task that the HR function must respond to immediately.

As Angelika Tzemou, Head of HR at Bayer in Greece, says, “HR functions have gone through several transformations over the last few years in order to step up, evolve, and play a greater role in developing better-prepared organizations for current and future challenges.”

With 17 years of HR experience, Tzemou shares some of the key HR trends that are emerging in the industry and her thoughts on how and why companies can respond in the areas of technology, leadership, and HR strategy.

Operational efficiency through technology

Technology has made tremendous strides in the marketing, sales, and R&D functions of pharma. Now, it is also making advancements in the HR function in terms of achieving operational efficiency.

According to Tzemou, advanced technology platforms have enabled the creation and use of shared service models for transactional HR activities. “The consistent and streamlined business processes, along with improved control and compliance, help companies achieve the desired operational effectiveness,” she explains.

Shared service models are essentially software or platforms that help centralize certain HR activities so that services are consistent, simplified and standardized. These models can be applied to tasks that are principally administrative, such as recruitment administration, payroll management, benefits and pension administration, and more. Additionally, these can be used to deliver information, training, support, or coaching services to employees who are linked to the centralized system. Shared models accelerate the delivery of HR services and therefore also help cut down on costs and time.

HR success today seems to rely more on the HR team’s capabilities to understand business needs, foster innovation, drive change, and create collaborative high-impact decisions.

Tzemou explains that in the past, HR functions used to be at odds with each other regarding whether activities should be centralized. However, this is no longer a key concern. What has become more important is whether they have the key ability to be responsive. “The constantly changing business environment is requiring HR departments to be flexible and agile enough to allow frequent and quick adaptive movements of their operating models in line with the size of the operation and its emerging needs,” she says, adding that a centralized approach tends to reinforce overall organizational effectiveness.

Driving business outcomes with HR analytics

Technology has been playing a more elaborate role than simply providing administrative and operational support to HR departments. With the emergence of Big Data and analytics, some HR functions have already begun to use data about individuals and organizations to better understand and optimize employee performance.

According to Tzemou, “HR success today seems to rely more on the HR team’s capabilities to understand business needs, foster innovation, drive change, and create collaborative high-impact decisions.” To arrive at more relevant, informed decisions and data-driven solutions, however, HR departments must develop sophisticated workforce analytics and have the skills to leverage workforce data.

Some organizations are increasingly seeking to make the most of the mountains of workforce information stored within their data warehouses (such as performance appraisals, employee surveys, productivity reports, and turnover statistics, to name a few). With the use of special analytics such as predictive analytics, which can establish patterns and create algorithms that predict outcomes, HR departments can provide performance and financial insights that are crucial to the decision-making of senior executives.

We see workplace values shifting towards a more transparent, trustful and collaborative working culture – one that can motivate employees to invest discretionary effort in delivering business results.

HR data analytics is something Bayer is investing heavily in – moving away from simply reporting HR data to using it to predict key insights and drive innovative business decisions. “High-impact HR departments are now familiar with gathering and analyzing HR data using metrics that are aligned with strategic goals. This data-driven systematic approach can provide an accurate view into today’s performance, as well as forecasting insights for the future. It can provide the business with those helpful performance insights that enable better business decisions and quicker actions,” explains Tzemou.

High-Impact HR is a model that strongly links HR activities with business outcomes and is founded on the principle that high-performing organizations are built by, and with, high performing individuals and leaders. If pharma organizations want to meet their patient-focused and financial goals, they must ensure that the performance of each of their organizational members is making a positive impact on those goals.

An engaging culture led by trusted leaders

A highly engaged workforce can potentially spell the difference between a high-performing company and a low-performing one, and is therefore, to be treated as an opportunity to create competitive advantage. “We see workplace values shifting towards a more transparent, trustful and collaborative working culture – one that can motivate employees to invest discretionary effort in delivering business results,” says Tzemou.

With performance insights and a deeper understanding of employee behavior, pharma companies can develop targeted solutions to improve workforce engagement. Additionally, a company that understands its employees and knows how to best support them also tends to attract smart and motivated workforce members who are seeking to trust their employers. According to Tzemou, “High trust levels lead to a greater sense of self-responsibility, more effective relationships, and more collective action toward achieving common goals.”

The ability to deliver results alone has historically dominated the selection of leaders, but today, trustworthy leadership seems like an essential [element to] competence when discussing the development and selection methods of senior leaders.

High-performing employees also have expectations of organizations, which partly form their basis for selecting which companies to work for and excel in. This increases the expectations for leaders to strive to be consistently trustworthy in the eyes of employees, abandon old leadership styles, and determine ways to influence the workforce to create an impact on business outcomes.

These evolving leadership expectations are also giving HR departments the opportunity to revamp the methods and criteria for measuring competence among managers and leaders. “The ability to deliver results alone has historically dominated the selection of leaders, but today, trustworthy leadership seems like an essential [element to] competence when discussing the development and selection methods of senior leaders,” explains Tzemou.

With the changing pharma and healthcare markets, organizations must tailor their skills, capabilities, and cultures as well. HR departments are expected to attract and retain talent, engage the workforce, and link employee performance with real business outcomes. With workforce data, analytics and openness to transformation, pharma organizations can optimize their HR functions to achieve strategic and leadership alignment with their primary business objectives.

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In part 2 of our HR series, technological & cultural transformations are becoming necessary to achieve competitive advantage.
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