Facilty Design & Management

The Highest — and Lowest — Ranked Places to Work in Big Pharma

How pharma companies fair on Glassdoor.

By Meagan Parrish, Senior Editor

If you want to really know what it’s like working at a company, checking out the employee reviews on Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job sites, can often provide the answers. Although some of the comments — positive and negative — can seem extreme, Glassdoor has taken strides to make sure it provides balanced feedback about the company (such as requiring users to provide a review in order to see other reviews). 

When giving a review, Glassdoor lets users give an overall rating for the company (from 1 to 5 stars), provide written feedback about the pros and cons of working there, and then again give a 1 to 5 star ranking for career opportunities, compensation, work/life balance, senior management, and culture and values. All of the reviews are anonymous, and they can also provide helpful insights on interview questions and the hiring process.  

Most of pharma’s top dogs fair pretty well overall in employee feedback, scoring near 4 out of 5 stars — but pharma’s marks are still not as high as other industries. On Glassdoor’s list of the “Best Places to Work in 2019,” the No. 1 ranked company, a management consulting firm called Bain & Company, scored 4.6.  And all of the top 100 companies on that list scored 4.2 or higher. So although major pharma companies generally get positive scores, they still have work to do to be more competitive. 

Because there are well over 6,500 pharma and biotech companies with reviews on Glassdoor, this list has been narrowed down to companies with 1,000 or more reviews. Of those companies, here are the highest and lowest ranked places to work in pharma.

labman

Photo: Unsplash

The highest ranked companies: 

10. Merck 

Glassdoor score: 3.8
Reviews: 3.2k 
74 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Merck is a great company. Upper management is working hard to be inclusive and provide opportunities for women and minorities. They care about their employees and provide a lot of options for training and advancement. Great work/life balance.Cons: Lots of lateral moves required to be able to move up.”

 9. Eli Lilly

Glassdoor score: 3.8
Reviews: 1.7k
75 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Good pay, good benefits, smart and talented employees. Cons: Treating your experienced employees as though they cost too much will create compliance issues in a highly regulated environment.”

 8. Bayer 

Glassdoor score: 3.8
Reviews: 1.9k
77 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Fast-paced, demanding but very rewarding in that you can work autonomously. Your fellow employees are what make it a great place to work!Cons: Very high expectations and sometimes left without enough information to complete tasks.”

7. GlaxoSmithKline 

Glassdoor score: 3.8
Reviews: 4.2k 
77 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: People and talent, amazing products and solid clinical data! A company to be proud to work for based on the science and integrity. Higher end of pay for salary. Great benefits. At the forefront of doing the right thing in an industry finding its way. Cons: Lots of change. Trying to reinvent itself after the corporate integrity agreement. Having a hard time focusing on improving culture as they focus on sales performance.”

6. AstraZeneca

Glassdoor score: 3.8
Reviews: 1.9k
77 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Great employee benefits and perks, we have a very nice facility with awesome services, the company spends so much on employees in training and development.Cons: Work is very fast paced and some seasons it's hard to have a work-life balance.”

5. AbbVie

Glassdoor score: 3.8
Reviews: 1.1k
80 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Great culture; innovative; continues to try to raise the bar on performance.Cons: Can be hierarchical; needs more diverse talent.” 

4. Roche

Glassdoor score: 3.9
Reviews: 2.3k
79 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Most of the areas I worked in had a good culture and working environment. There were a few flighty ladder scramblers, but most of the people were solid hard-working folks who made working there a pleasure. The pay and benefits were very good, which I belatedly realized I'd taken for granted! Cons: It's tough when you work for a company's largest market (US) and are still managed from afar. This frustration is compounded when strategies, tools, and programs are developed in the company's much smaller and different home market to apply everywhere.”

 3. Pfizer 

Glassdoor score: 3.9
Reviews: 3.3k 
81 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Top quality brands and talent. The organization is committed to training and challenging the Marketing function to learn and move outside one's comfort zone.Cons: Corporate downsizing and reorganization has led to a challenged work environment and low morale.”

 2. Johnson & Johnson 

Glassdoor score: 3.9
Reviews: 4.9k 
81 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Reviewer comment: “Pros: Good culture, good benefits, dynamic, high focus on training and personal development, opportunities to get promotions, high company diversity, stock options. Cons: Very busy, not unreasonable but something to be aware of/expect, relatively steep learning curve, not the highest payers in the industry.”

1. Genentech

Glassdoor score:
Reviews: 2.3k
79 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Reviewer comment: “Pros: Great benefits, great culture, and focus on employees. Cons: Large organization struggling to adapt to new development paradigms. Next few years will be critical for long term success.”

labpour

Photo: Unsplash

The lowest five ranked companies: 

Sanofi

Glassdoor score: 3.5
Reviews: 3.1k 
68 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: The work/life balance is great in most departments with the ability to work from home up to 2 days a week and use flex hours, however this is dependent on manager discretion and some teams do not allow full use of the policy.Cons: The pay increases are tiny every year so it's very difficult to grow your salary unless getting promoted, which is also very difficult to do unless you have a higher up in your corner pushing for you. The management seems a little lost about their path forward which leaves a lot of groups in limbo often.”

PPD

Glassdoor score: 3.4 
Reviews: 1.2k
64 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Great coworkers, good pay, good benefits, given all tools needed to do job (ie computer, laboratory safety equipment, etc.) I personally had an excellent manager. Cons: Too many people in charge, protocol changes suddenly, and the software is a pain in the butt.”

Boehringer Ingelheim

Glassdoor score: 3.4
Reviews: 1.2k 
63 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Flexible hours, good starting pay and benefits, great PTO. Cons: No chances for advancement, management stays in place for 10-30 years with no openings to move up in your job regardless of work ethic, drive, skill or accreditations.”

Teva Pharmaceuticals

Glassdoor score: 3.2
Reviews: 1.1k 
48 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Strong foundation to keep company moving forward. Cons: Top management needs training to 'motivate' their teams.”

Shire

Glassdoor score: 2.7
Reviews: 1.1k 
37 percent of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend

Recent reviewer comment: “Pros: Good benefits. Salary was OK. Cons: Very unorganized. No training system in place. Politics and favoritism were big time. Some people were nice and friendly but some were there to report people. Management was also a mix.”

Like this article? Sign up for the Daily Dose and get articles like this delivered right to your inbox.