Merck Pharmaceuticals has again been confirmed as one of the UK’s top employers, following the publication of Pf’s Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey for 2005.
THE STUDY, which shows Merck’s standing among UK sales professionals, has risen to 12th position, is the sixth survey in the past two years to commend the company as a leading employer. Last year, Merck secured a top 20 position in the prestigious Guardian–sponsored “Britain’s Top Employers 2005” poll. It was also placed in the top 50 of the FT’s “Best Work Places” lists for 2004 and 2005, and was earmarked at number five as a “rising star” in the Pharmafocus 2006 Careers Survey. These superb accolades are a model of consistency for the West Drayton-based, German pharmaceuticals manufacturer and are the combined result of successful brands, a thriving pipeline and, crucially, a long-term commitment to understanding what is important to its employees.
The pharmaceutical industry is accustomed to moderately high levels of staff turnover, particularly in the competitive sales environment. According to the Pf survey, less than five percent of Merck’s field force is seeking to find employment within alternative pharmaceutical companies in the next year. This is a vastly superior to the industry average of16% and reflects the efforts Merck has made to engage with its staff to develop and improve its performance.
That so many of Merck’s workforce are keen to stay put should come as no great surprise. Merck compares favourably with the rest of the industry, performing ahead of the industry average in 12 of the 16 satisfaction factors surveyed in the Pf study. Furthermore, Merck has also performed well against fellow Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) – companies whose revenues sit somewhere between £20 million and £100 million. Merck outperformed a large sample of the best-known SMEs in all but three satisfaction categories.
Jim Golby, HR Manager, believes the latest figures underline the company’s efforts to work in partnership with its employees and respond to their needs. “We have invested heavily in seeking to establish what’s important to our field force. Not only have we conducted several internal and external studies within this area, significantly, we have acted upon the findings. All too often, employers fail to listen. We have kept asking, kept listening and, most crucially of all, we have done something about it. The loyalty of our sales professionals proves that we are now reaping the rewards. Our teams have returned some outstanding performances and are renowned for going the extra mile with customers. That only happens when a team is truly motivated, feels appreciated and wants to make a difference.”
The survey results represent just one aspect of a highly successful year for Merck. The company eclipsed its record sales revenues in 2005, both in the UK and globally – making it the most successful year in Merck’s 337 year history. This is no mean feat, as revenues in 2004 had themselves beaten all previous records. Global group revenues in 2005 were 5.9 billion. Growth was driven by the sustained success of Glucophage-SR, which has been acclaimed as the most successful launch for Type-II diabetes in the UK. David Garmon-Jones, Head of Pharma Sales, said: “UK sales grew by an impressive 17% in 2005, buoyed by successful product launches and the continued success of established high profile brands. The pharma sales force has really enjoyed launching Glucophage SR. It’s an excellent, innovative product which delivers real tangible benefits for our customers and, most importantly, patients.”
Merck was also boosted by the success of Erbitux metastatic colorectal cancer. The product was the first drug to emerge from Merck’s oncology pipeline when it gained approval for launch in the UK in 2004. It recently received marketing authorisation for the treatment of head and neck cancer by the EMEA. Denise Richard, Head of the Oncology Business Unit, said: “2006 looks like being yet another exciting year for Merck Oncology with our launching of the new head and neck cancer indication for Erbitux, our ground breaking mono-clonal antibody product. We will also launch Uftoral, another new addition to the Merck Oncology portfolio.”
In fact, Merck’s current portfolio is strong, comprising drugs for diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases – in particular hypertension, lipid management and angina – and gastroenterology. Neil Dugdale, Head of the Gastroenterology Business Unit, commented: “Our Gastro sales team continues to go from strength to strength. 2006 looks like being another superb year for our highly professional sales team.”
Merck’s pipeline is also healthy, with compounds in late-stage clinical development in the areas of cardiometabolic, oncology and neurology.
The Pf survey earmarked “Company Culture” as a key aspect of importance for sales professionals across the industry. Survey respondents from Merck, totalling almost half of the company’s UK field force, commended the organisation’s culture. In fact, satisfaction ratings for the ‘Company Culture’ at Merck were, impressively, almost double the industry average. Now that really tells you something!
Merck’s philosophy is clear from the outset of any placement within the company. Trainee reps, for example, receive more than 30 days of dedicated training within their first year. John McIlree, Head of HR, Training and Development, explains how the development of employees lies at the heart of the company’s culture: “Merck is committed to life-long learning and provides many ongoing initiatives that develop employee potential, both for current roles and further opportunities,” he says. “A career with Merck means an investment in your future development.”
The company encourages its employees to innovate across all areas of the business. Clearly the satisfaction of its field force is testament to a long-term innovation programme aimed at understanding its employees and delivering measures that improve performance.
Merck KGaA aims to be number one in its core businesses through, it says, “innovations created by talented and entrepreneurial employees.” So are you an innovator? Have you the skills necessary to thrive in a growing company that consistently satisfies its field force and remains committed to its development? If so, there’s a company in West Drayton that would be delighted to hear from you. It’s nice Merck, if you can get it.