A young bearded man with thick-rimmed glasses with arms aloft with the word ‘Commit’ emblazoned on the wall behind.
Billy Bolton, an EHS lead at Shire. Image: Shire

In the future of work, giving employees purpose will be vital

4 Oct 2018

We spoke to Billy Bolton, an EHS lead at Shire, about how the sense of purpose at Shire attracts the best and brightest minds to the world of biotech.

We’ve reached a critical turning point in the working world. Soon enough, the workforce will be primarily dominated by ‘millennials’. This generation has time and time shown that it has entirely different values than the ones that came before. Millennials have also shown that they will vote with their feet when it comes to work – if a workplace’s values don’t align with their own, they’ll find somewhere that does.

We spoke to Billy Bolton, an EHS lead at Shire, about how the biotech firm is gearing up for the future of work and why the sense of purpose makes all the difference.

What challenges and opportunities face the workplace and workforce of the future?

There is a significant influence from the new employee’s expectations of work and the workplace. How people are tangibly rewarded, the ‘greater purpose’ of their career and good career development opportunities are all front of mind. At Shire Dunboyne, we are spending time not only thinking about what the workplace will look like but, more importantly, what it will feel like.

Our people are one of our greatest assets so, when we see the demands of the modern workforce, we see the opportunity to build a workplace that can create great development opportunities for people.

What key trends do you foresee in relation to intra-team behaviour, management-employee interactions or other workplace dynamics?

I foresee management-employee interactions becoming more like employee-employee interactions. At Shire, for example, the physical workplace is becoming more open-plan. It results in interactions becoming more transparent, casual and relaxed, which leads to stronger relationships and greater trust. Gone are the days where meetings happen behind closed doors.

The dynamic of how teams interact is vital. Accountability of the individual and of the team itself will ensure success. Being results-driven is also a factor that drives the team’s successes and, ultimately, the patient benefits.

Our teams at Shire always endeavour to take an optimistic and constructive stance when challenges arise, and we drive for solutions.

How will the workplace change as the Baby Boomers and Generation X age out of the workforce, and it becomes millennial-driven?

By 2025, roughly 75pc of the global workforce will be ‘millennials’. The culture of the workplace will be directly shaped by this generation’s habits and expectations. An environment needs to be created where people feel valued and feel connected to the day-to-day workings of the business.

Today, there is a lot more focus on the ‘why’. Employees seek the connection to their work – their ‘purpose’. In Dunboyne, we focus on being champions for our patients who have rare diseases. We have a unique opportunity to support them. I joined Shire after I heard the stories of how connected the organisation is to the patients we support. It is not just because of the products that we make for them, but also how we make them, as well as what we do after people have received their life-changing medicines.

At the same time, employees expect that there is a level of care for their wellbeing, and that means more than just how the workplace might affect their health. ‘Thrive’ is a programme that we have at Dunboyne that focuses on wellness – not just physical wellbeing, but emotional, financial and social wellbeing, too. We ensure that employees are challenged to learn and grow by providing a supportive environment.

What part will diversity and inclusion play in the make-up of the workforce of the future?

In Dunboyne, we value diversity to ensure we have the full picture; to ensure that we have all the right input and different perspectives before making decisions that affect our patients. Business resources groups have been created to identify and harness as much value as possible across the Shire organisation.

Work-life balance is arguably central to job satisfaction. How can it be better achieved?

We all lead very busy lives with many demands on our time. As a result, the workplace has had to change. In Dunboyne, our work priorities are driven by need. We define the need through our business programmes. All work should always cascade from this.

We’ve seen immense increases in salary, particularly in tech. Do you think salaries in your sector will trend upwards or will we start to see other benefits coming to the fore?

Salary is just one piece of the picture. In today’s world, other benefits such as job satisfaction and a greater ‘purpose’ make jobs more interesting and attractive to the new generation of employees.

How valuable a business is to the new generation now includes the impact that business has on the world.

We’re currently deep in the world of data. What part will data play in developing the future of work?

At Shire, everyone is encouraged to be curious and innovative. Gathering data, both internally and externally, is key to our success. Curiosity drives the data-gathering process and, the more we have, the better and more effective the solution can often be to an issue. It can also help us improve a process.

We’re looking at a more automated future, as AI and bots become more sophisticated. How do you think this will affect roles in your sector?

Machines powered by AI can complete many tasks but, at the same time, I believe that they can’t totally replace humans. The human brain is incredibly creative and agile – something that machines have yet to master.

Strategic thinking and ‘the how’ cannot be replaced. Although the machine can deliver in the tactical space, it still needs guidance. The knowledge and aptitude of people and their amazing minds will still be very much needed.

What are the sectors of the future? Where do you believe we will we be seeing job growth and development?

I believe that the biotech sector is and will continue to be a wonderful place. At Shire, we are driving breakthrough science in our R&D and we use serial innovation to discover new disease mechanisms to develop the latest treatments for patients with rare diseases. This is an area that is very exciting and I believe will continue to grow and develop in the future, creating new and interesting roles for people.

What will companies need to do to attract and support the best talent?

In Dunboyne, we value learning as a way to motivate and engage. Development in a career path is very important to employees and this also keeps talent engaged and motivated in the organisation.

How do companies need to change right now to be ready for the future of work you have envisioned here?

I believe that companies need to spend more time and resources on providing learning opportunities for employees, and also adapting to the changing external environment.

Want to work at Shire? Check out the Shire careers page for current vacancies.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading