Using Data to Close Workforce Gaps in Life Sciences Companies

Using Data to Close Workforce Gaps in Life Sciences Companies
Workforce Resilience

05 of 10

This insight is part 05 of 10 in this Collection.

November 1, 2023 14 mins

Using Data to Close Workforce Gaps in Life Sciences Companies

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Life sciences companies lag other industries in addressing the physical and mental health of employees and getting them future-skills ready. Here are actions to address these gaps.

Key Takeaways
  1. A third of life sciences companies provide programs to support employees’ physical and mental health — 10 percent lower than the global industry average.
  2. The continued demand for highly skilled employees squeezes the talent pipeline across life sciences firms.
  3. Companies should establish sustainable skills frameworks and use data to bolster their future skills readiness to drive innovation and growth.

Every industry has its own human capital challenges unique to its specific circumstances. Analyzing data from three Aon research programs, we identified sector-specific resilience risks that are facing organizations today.  

Our research shows that the two most pressing workforce challenges for life science companies are protecting the physical and mental health of their employees and securing future skills. How can companies tackle these big issues? Below are some actions to take.

  • 3,000

    We analyzed holistic HR data from over 3,000 organizations around the world.

    Workforce Resilience Diagnostic Insights

  • 1,700

    1,700 organizations completed a workforce resilience risk assessment.

    2022 Aon Workforce Resilience Risk Benchmark

  • 1,300

    1,300 organizations told us their workforce wellbeing priorities.

    2022-23 Aon Global Wellbeing Survey

Improving the Physical and Mental Health of Employees

The life sciences industry is 10 percent behind other industries when it comes to providing advanced mental health support, based on our research. 

Given this gap, life sciences companies should spend more time on refining their employee wellbeing programs. Our data finds a degree of mismatch between currently offered programs versus the programs that would meet the perceived needs of employees. Now that the dust has settled from the pandemic, companies are noticing that the programs they have implemented aren’t moving the needle as much as they’d hoped. That may well be because traditional programs are designed to address clinical issues like anxiety, depression and substance abuse, whereas the pandemic revealed the prevalence of conditions like burnout and languishing — which do not warrant immediate clinical attention, but still affect many employees. 

Aon partnered with a leading pharmaceutical company to measure the ROI of their wellbeing programs. We found that moderate improvements in wellbeing resulted in a 5 percent productivity gain — more than offsetting the cost of wellbeing initiatives.

The right wellbeing program will target microstresses that occur in the workplace to prevent burnout. Furthermore, our 2022 Health Survey found 47 percent of employees in the United States live in areas with limited access to mental health services. With mental health an acute concern among life sciences firms, employers should focus on ensuring increased access within their healthcare plans.

Life sciences companies should also focus on ways to reduce healthcare cost pressures, particularly in the U.S., where cost and affordability of healthcare is a huge concern for both employees and employers. Value-led healthcare strategies allow employers to lower costs while improving affordability and quality of care. Even more, they don’t require major changes to healthcare plans. These can include advising employees on optimal providers as costs can differ, reducing cost uncertainty with predictive analytics and integrating support by bringing different vendors together. 

Aon partnered with a global biopharmaceutical firm to measure and close the pay equity gap. Over three years, the company closed its pay gap completely in North America and has an action plan for closing the gaps in other locations.

Equipping Employees with Future-Leading Skills

Future skills readiness is on the agenda for many life sciences companies, with 71 percent saying they plan to increase this focus. This is especially true since many organizations still struggle to hire and retain employees in the ongoing competitive market for skilled talent. We see this in the industry’s continued high turnover. Median voluntary turnover among life sciences companies in the United States, for example, is above 10 percent in every region but the mid-Atlantic, according to Aon’s Salary Increase and Turnover Study from October 2023.

Preparing the workforce for future skills includes initiatives such as, employee training and development, upskilling and reskilling programs and preparing managers to lead their teams. This is necessary to drive the innovation and growth that characterizes the life sciences industry. Artificial intelligence in particular is reshaping the need for skills and highlighting the need for life sciences companies to understand the talent potential and gaps in their workforce.

There are two main actions life sciences companies should take to improve the future skills readiness of their organization:

  1. Boost employee mobility by establishing a sustainable skills framework — and then connect that framework to your job architecture and current HR processes.
  2. Increase productivity by using data to understand cost implications and benefits of different talent decisions (e.g., invest in reskilling versus new hiring).

How Aon Can Help

Ready to get started? Download our Measuring Workforce Resilience for Better Business Outcomes Guide or get in touch with one of our life sciences experts to discuss how to help your organization improve workforce resilience. 



A third of life sciences companies provide programs to support employees’ physical and mental health — 10 percent lower than the global industry average.

Source: Aon’s workforce resilience data

General Disclaimer

This document is not intended to address any specific situation or to provide legal, regulatory, financial, or other advice. While care has been taken in the production of this document, Aon does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the document or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way by any person who may rely on it. Any recipient shall be responsible for the use to which it puts this document. This document has been compiled using information available to us up to its date of publication and is subject to any qualifications made in the document.

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