It’s said that most people spend more time with their work colleagues than they do their loved ones. Clearly, it pays to pursue a career you enjoy. So how happy are you in your job? Do you whistle while you work? Or do you just get no satisfaction? Pf’s Editor, Chris Ross, gets all ‘Captain Sensible’ and indulges in some Happy Talk.
Back in the day, Happiness was ‘a cigar called Hamlet’. These days, that kind of happiness won’t be seen in TV commercials or permitted in your nearest public house. But the pursuit of happiness remains the philosophical challenge of the modern day, having troubled generations of academics, playwrights, authors and poets since the dawn of time. An anonymous Spanish proverb claims that happiness is transient, and rests only briefly in our lives, before moving on: “There is no happiness, only moments of happiness,” it says.
“With a clear impact on the bottom line, improving workplace happiness is rising up the business agenda and employees cannot afford to ignore it”
Well Spain won Euro 2008 and Wimbledon this year – that’s quite enough happiness for now. But if happiness is indeed fleeting, how many of these passing moments occur where most us spend the vast majority of our active lives – in the workplace? This month, Pf examines the Holy Grail – the pursuit of professional happiness. Can it be found? Or is it Utopia?
In the wrong game?
If you want to be happy, become a hairdresser. That’s the surprising statistic emerging from the City & Guilds annual ‘Happiness Index’, which over the past five years has shown that hair styling has consistently represented a career of contentment. Obviously, where other industries work in fear of cuts, this is one profession that gets true enjoyment from them! According to the Happiness Index, hairdressers have ranked in the top two positions in every poll apart from 2006 – when they were displaced by DJs. This year, hairdressers were knocked off the top of the charts by Beauty Therapists, who themselves have ranked in the top three for the last four years.
Because they’re worth it
So what is it about these two professions that generate the feel-good factor? Well, apart from placing great value in having a genuine interest in what they do for a living, both hairdressers and beauty therapists attribute their contentment to the strong relationships they enjoy with their colleagues. In addition, over 90% cited that being made to feel appreciated for what they do made a huge difference. Conversely, secretaries, PAs and administrators – alongside others working in business support – feel the least appreciated and are among the unhappiest professionals.
The Happiness Index shows that vocational workers are far more likely to go to work with a smile on their faces than traditional ‘white collar’ workers. Lawyers, Bankers and HR Managers consistently feature among the least happy professionals.
Can’t buy me love
The presence of high-earning lawyers and bankers among the unhappiest professionals adds weight to an often quoted, yet equally often disputed, claim: the size of your salary does not guarantee happiness and fulfilment at work. According to the City & Guilds 2008 survey, financial rewards are not the solution to job satisfaction and motivation.
Having an interest in what you do for a living is the number one factor in achieving on-the-job contentment. The poll showed that:
• 57% of workers remain with their employer because they have a strong interest in what they do for a living
• 56% stay because they have good relationships with their colleagues
• 48% of the UK’s workforce appreciate their work/life balance
• Only 44% remain in their job as a direct result of their salary.
“With a clear impact on the bottom line, improving workplace happiness is rising up the business agenda and employees cannot afford to ignore it,” says Bob Coates, Managing Director of City & Guilds. “Companies can no longer rely on those established reward and recognition policies that fail to resonate with employees and do little to combat stress levels in the workplace. By taking such a blinkered approach, they risk the rise of an unmotivated and unproductive workforce, and even potentially losing their staff to competitors.”
|Top 5 Happiest Professions
Professor Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, who worked with City & Guilds to analyse the findings of the Happiness Index, says the study provides food for thought for employers. “The Happiness Index provides a call to action for the business community to rethink its reward and recognition strategies and consider employees’ needs on an individual basis. It marks the end of an era for organisation-wide HR policies. From now on, a flexible approach is needed if businesses are to create a happy, and by association, productive workforce.”
Karma in Pharma
And so, against this backdrop, how do medical sales professionals fare in the happiness stakes? Which roles are currently the most satisfied? And from which particular aspects do sales professionals gain most satisfaction? As always, Pf ’s Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey provides a unique insight into the current mindset of pharmaceutical sales. Figures from the latest survey, published in 2008, but based on perceptions of 2007, show that medical sales professionals do not necessarily match the profile presented by the City & Guilds Happiness Index.
In 2007, according to the CIPD, the national staff turnover in the UK was just over 18%, with staff turnover in the private sector averaging 22%. This means that, on average, around a fifth of a company’s workforce will find alternative employment during the course of the year. As revealed last month, Pf ’s survey found that, across the pharmaceutical industry, only 13% of sales professionals expect to change companies in the next twelve months – well below the national average. This suggests that morale across the sector remains fairly high, despite challenging market dynamics (See Figure 1).
So what happens when we drill deeper and look into satisfaction levels within individual roles? The Pf survey collates data from a variety of roles across the pharmaceutical sales arena – reflecting the breadth of career opportunities open to individuals within the sector. The roles break down as follows:
• 1st Line Sales Managers
• NHS Liaison/ Health Care Development
• Hospital Specialists
• Key Account Management
• Dedicated Field Trainers
• Nurse Advisors
• Primary & Secondary Care Representatives
• Primary Care Representatives
• 2nd Line Sales Managers
The Key Account Management role is a new addition to the Pf Survey, reflecting the industry trend in this direction. Likewise, the growing significance of Hospital Specialists is reflected in the sample size – with almost a third of respondents to the survey performing this role. A further fifth work in a combined Primary & Secondary Care representative capacity.
According to the survey, Nurse Advisors are the happiest with their employers, while Dedicated Field Trainers are least satisfied. Almost a quarter of the Dedicated Field Trainers who completed the survey are looking to move companies, while all of the Nurse Advisors who participated are happy to remain where they are. In addition, only 13% of Nurse Advisors expect to change role in the coming year, whereas 37% of Second Line Sales Managers and 30% of NHS Liaison/HCD anticipate changing jobs.
As we’ve seen, the City & Guilds Happiness Index (2008) provided a clear indication that Salary is not generally cited as the most important factor in enjoying a job – a statistic supported by trends dating back five years. As ever, the pharma industry likes to buck the trend. Pf ’s Survey shows that, almost across the board, Salary ranks as the most important motivational aspect for sales professionals. The only roles that did not indicate Salary as the most important factor were Nurse Advisors and 2nd Line Sales Managers, who graded it second. For Nurse Advisers, Job Security was most important, which explains why none of our sample expected to move companies in the coming year., while Company Culture was most significant for 2nd Line Managers.
It is perhaps unsurprising that sales people seem to be most motivated by money – after all, revenue generation is at the core of these roles, and success, failure and personal reward is most commonly linked to this.
When it comes to assessing the areas that sales professionals are most satisfied with, as we learned last month, Salary does not figure in the top 10. Is this surprising? Perhaps not. Would anyone ever realistically claim that they earn too much? Despite this, the Pf Survey shows that the majority of sales professionals believe that their remuneration is appropriate – even though they would most likely want to earn more!
Clearly, pay structures differ from company to company and are based on a number of complex factors. The Pf Survey gathers and analyses remuneration in a variety of ways, but for the purposes of this article, we have focused on the ‘median’ figure for salaries. There is an important distinction to be made between ‘average’ and ‘median’ figures – median is simply the value in the middle when all values are put in order from the smallest to the largest. The figures used in this article do not represent the average salary (see Figure 2)!
After salary, the most commonly important motivational aspect for most roles is Job Security. Eight out of the nine profiled roles cited it among their top five motivational factors – the only exception being NHS Liaison/ HCD. So how secure do these individual roles feel?
The answer is not encouraging. In the majority of roles, their desires for perceived Job Security are not being met satisfactorily. Since the industry currently finds itself at the centre of a prolonged bout of consolidation and restructuring, and the global economy is being plagued by the credit crunch, confidence is undoubtedly low.
Just over half (52%) of 2nd Line Managers, Hospital Specialists, Key Account Managers and Primary & Secondary Care Representatives are satisfied with Job Security. 50% of NHS Liaison/HCD were satisfied, while the rest are less content. Least impressed are Dedicated Field Trainers and Nurse Advisors (38%), followed by Primary Care Representatives (43%) and 1st Line Managers (44%).
Where is the love?
Despite this, there are areas where the industry is delivering high levels of satisfaction across all roles. One area where there is plenty of love in the room is ‘Relationship with Manager’. Virtually every job profile shows a high degree of contentment in this category with Nurse Advisors (86%) happiest, followed by 2nd Line Managers (85%) and Primary Care and Primary & Secondary Care Representatives (78%). This is reassuring for the industry – since selling can be a lonely life, with large chunks of a working week spent alone, on the road. The importance of strong managerial support cannot be underestimated.
Likewise, the industry appears to have plenty of belief in its present products. 87% of Hospital Specialist are happy with their brands, followed by NHS Liaison (86%) and Primary & Secondary Care Representatives (80%).
Who is happiest?
Determining which role in the whole field of pharmaceutical sales is the happiest in the current market is open to interpretation. Analysis of how each particular role graded their satisfaction levels in the five areas they had highlighted as the most important in terms of motivation, it would appear that 2nd Line Managers are most happy with their working environment. At the other end of the spectrum, it seems that Dedicated Field Trainers are not being satisfied in the areas that motivate them most.
The findings of the Pf Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey, as well as the City & Guilds Happiness Index, are only based on a sample of the market. Opinions on the various aspects polled will vary wildly, with perception and satisfaction a very subjective and individual belief. Despite this, analysis and interpretation always makes interesting reading and offers much food for thought for employers and employees alike.
This month, Pf launches an annual publication dedicated to the Employer of Choice aspect of its survey. The publication, free with this month’s Pf, outlines many of the attributes and cultures associated with being a leading organisation, and also details the top 20 Employers of Choice, as perceived by respondents to the Pf survey.
Wherever you work, here’s hoping that in the coming twelve months, you’ll be as happy as a hairdresser.
For further information on the Pf Survey, or for details on how to take part next year, please contact Heidi Sharland, General Manager at HSP on 0870 609 2834 0870 609 2834 .