Work-life balance is a core value for many of us and its recognition amongst employers is increasing. Silicon Valley figureheads, such as Google and Intel, have implemented various wellbeing schemes and allowances to keep their staff happy and healthy. Whilst some industries have been fast to adopt, the pharmaceutical industry has been slower to offer flexibility.
A recent study conducted by the global unified communications company, Fuze, 95% of workers say work-life balance is an important factor when searching for a new job. Similarly, a report from Virgin highlighted that 76% of workers don’t work as remotely as they’d like.
With life sciences job seekers looking for more flexibility and pharmaceutical companies aiming to attract and retain talent, is flexible working in quality assurance jobs possible?
Hobson Prior’s lead quality assurance recruiter, Steven Fuller, shares 5 core insights into how the quality assurance job market is being impacted by the increasing demand for flexible working and how quality assurance job seekers can make the most of this trend.
Modern life is demanding. The traditional 9-5 doesn’t always apply to QA roles as is, but the ability for QA professionals to balance the demands of work with the stresses of modern life, like appointments or missing their children’s bedtimes, would certainly be well received.
As a lead quality assurance recruiter, Steven has seen many senior quality assurance managers and responsible quality persons reject high-paying jobs at global pharmaceutical companies.
The head of quality may have parent’s evenings to attend. A QA analyst might have elderly parents to care for. Your quality assurance team leader might have to pick the car up from the garage.
“Almost every other industry is offering it; why shouldn’t a quality assurance manager have the same flexi-time as their friends in finance or marketing? I’ve had candidates turn down well-paid roles at world-renowned companies because there is no flexibility offered”.
It’s always harder to establish a consistent company culture in a global company: if you allow flexible hours for your offices in Cambridge, you’d be pressured to do the same for your site in Basel. Pharmaceutical start-ups are less restricted and more open to flexible working to attract top talent.
That said, large pharmaceutical companies want to remain competitive to attract top talent in quality assurance positions.
“When a global pharmaceutical company offers flexible working hours for a quality assurance job, the others need to adapt their offerings to be more appealing to attract the best candidates. There’s more opportunity to negotiate work life in quality assurance than you may think”.
Plus, with work-life balance becoming an expectation of millennial culture, pharmaceutical companies are promoting flexible hours in quality to encourage the next generation of QA managers, heads of QA and QA auditors more.
Whilst many would appreciate the opportunity to adapt our contracted hours to suit our busy schedules, it may not be possible to offer the same work-life balance structure for all quality control and quality assurance positions.
“It depends entirely on the role: a QA systems engineer may be able to access the eQMS systems from home, so working from home in QA can be an option.
"Alternatively, a senior manufacturing GXP needs to be onsite where the manufacturing and distribution take place. Their company may not be able to offer working from home, but may be able to negotiate flexible hours or a shift allowance to increase work-life balance for their QA team.”
Some quality jobs can be fully home-based, such as a GxP quality assurance job that focuses on eQMS and CAPAs. That said, a GCP QA manager would need to visit sites from time to time to ensure quality best practice. Travel commitments are often unavoidable in QA careers, making it difficult to secure a fully home-based role; different GXPs have different options.
If flexibility is what you are looking for, a QA recruiter will have the right connections.
Homeworking is a popular trend across the life sciences job market, but it is not always a feasible option. Pharmaceutical companies have needed to be creative to create opportunities for their QA teams to make sure they can still tackle the demands of QA job with work-life balance.
“Benefits packages, such as shift allowance offer an alternative to the traditional Monday-Friday, 9-5 that may suit some QA professionals better. Shifts allow for more control over what days in the week they work, with potential financial benefits for traditionally unsociable hours, whilst also allow QA professionals to have slightly more freedom and flexible working”.
Flexible hours and homeworking in quality assurance are growing, but it is not always as readily available to job seekers.
“As the lead quality assurance recruiter for Hobson Prior, it’s my job to understand your career requirements and make sure I connect you to roles that tick those boxes”.
Just because a job doesn’t overtly offer flexible working, does not necessarily mean it cannot be included. QA recruiters build relationships with pharmaceutical hiring managers, HR and talent acquisition teams and have a unique insight into which companies offer flexible working and which are more reluctant, saving you time in your job search.
“It is often the senior QA jobs that allow flexibility. A senior QP holds a great deal of responsibility and will often need to be available onsite. It can be tricky to negotiate flexible hours in QA management jobs, but it is certainly possible.”
Defining a balance between managing demands of work with family and social life is hugely for personal wellbeing. The life sciences industry is adapting to these demands and many businesses are offering new and inventive benefit packages to help keep their employees motivated and healthy.
As a quality assurance recruiter, Steven has seen the rise in childcare allowance, flexi-time, shift allowance, gym lunches and working from home opportunities. These are not specific to the quality assurance job market, but we are seeing more requests from QA job seekers and an understanding from companies hiring quality assurance professionals.
If flexible hours and a strong work-life balance is something you’re looking for, contact our quality assurance recruitment team who will help you find a QA job that suits your requirements.