Pharma staffers feeling insecure and 'overloaded'

While we're on the subject of job performance and layoffs, let's consider the psychological toll. As payrolls have been shrinking, pharma employees are working longer hours but feeling less secure, according to a survey by Pharmaceutical Manufacturing magazine. Nearly two-thirds of workers in pharma manufacturing fear for their jobs, the survey found, up from 42.7 percent in 2007.

But don't assume that it's the current economic environment causing that insecurity, pharma analysts said. Layoffs started several years ago, as drugmakers started prepping for patent expirations. And cuts are ongoing not just because of the economy, but because of the frenzy of M&A, which has been fueled by Big Pharma's attempts to refill its pipelines.

Feeling insecure has prompted some workers to take on more projects. Some--47.5 percent--have been forced to because fewer staff remain to do the same amount of work. Managers who answered the survey lamented the fact that cutting headcount has burdened remaining employees. "We're doing more with less time with overloaded workers," one said. "This cannot give good results."

Meanwhile, with layoffs past and present, the survivors are suffering, too. A study of the physical and mental effects of surviving layoffs found that the workers remaining on the payroll often find their physical health deteriorating--they eat poorly, smoke and drink more, call in sick more often, and tend to get depressed. Workplace injuries also tend to increase. Distrust lingers, stressing people out. And workers find themselves waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.

- see the Pharma Manufacturing release
- check out the survivor story from the Los Angeles Times