How To Attract, Retain And Develop Employees In Life Science

As a result of the rapid accelerations prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, 2022 seems to be a year where the competition for talented candidates is particularly fierce. Most of the conversations we are having with our customers in life science revolve around their struggle to identify and attract the right people to support their growth. So the challenge is finding the right people, but also developing and retaining your team. Here are our best practices for attracting, retaining and developing employees in life science:

  1. It may sound counterintuitive, but my first piece of advice is to hire on cultural fit and not just on skills and ability. In some instances, this will mean literally ripping up the hiring rule book and looking for the unpolished diamonds – the people that your competition won’t consider, even though they could be the best. In my experience, most of the instances of employees being let go will normally come down to ‘cultural fit’, and yet managers will gear their recruiting strategy towards skills and technical assessments. My advice would be to hire people who have the willingness and attitude to do the job. They may not prove a perfect fit, but if you find someone from a transferrable industry and give them a chance, you could be amazed at the results.
  2. Be a truly progressive employer. It seems simple, but creating glass ceilings or blocking development routes is a big factor behind people moving on, even in huge blue-chip establishments. Therefore, you can stand out as an employer by giving people opportunities they wouldn’t get elsewhere. This is particularly appropriate in start-up companies where people are often expected to cover multiple roles: this is an opportunity to create engagement that people may not receive elsewhere. 
  3. Offer employees clear communication and regular career discussions. In a world where your competition would hire your best people in a heartbeat, you need to keep talking to your employees about their goals and what they want to achieve. How often have we all seen the best salesperson being promoted because of their sales figures, but managing people isn’t what that person wants to do. Promotions are important, but they should ideally match the motivations of each individual.
  4. Be as competitive as possible with your salaries and benefits. This does not mean healthcare, dental and 50 holidays per year. This means giving your team what they need to be comfortable, refreshed and supported. During the pandemic we have been forced to re-evaluate our work-life balance and businesses have shown that working from home can be done to a great standard and in a way that works around childcare, for example. If you want to develop and retain the people you have, think outside of the box and listen to what is important to your staff. You never know, the best idea might just be something that doesn’t cost anything to implement but is critical to your retention strategy.
  5. Invest in training. Investing in your people is crucial to any development. This doesn’t have to mean spending thousands on career coaches or industry trainers, it may instead be a case of investing in the time for them to develop their skills. Perhaps you have a salesperson who wants to deep dive in to your technology and would benefit from spending time with the development team to understand the product, or maybe you have a HR partner who could benefit from a day with a Service Engineer to understand what happens out in the field. People who feel that they are invested in are more likely to have a sense of loyalty to you and your business.

 To find out more about how we have implemented these strategies in start-ups through to global leaders, just reach out to one of our team.

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