By Josh Needle, Managing Director – Life Sciences

The life sciences field has grown explosively amid the pandemic, making finding and retaining top talent critical to meet the high demand for vaccines, treatments and supplies. Turnover is simultaneously rising, in part because employees who face increased workloads are pursuing other opportunities. 

U.S. employers across all industries expect to pay an average 3.4% more to workers in 2022 due to this kind of talent scarcity. These conditions, combined with an already limited pool of talent are creating significant talent acquisition challenges. 

To solve for this, life sciences organizations need to take a multi-faceted approach that involves rethinking TA strategies and investing in existing employees. Here are four methods employers can use to develop a more agile workforce: 

Understand What Your Employees Want

Leaders must uncover the reasons behind turnover. In the age of the “Great Resignation,” employees are choosing to leave their roles for reasons beyond pay – reevaluating what matters to them and wanting employers to recognize their unique circumstances. 

Issue engagement surveys to uncover what employees value, such as manager relationships, the type of work, and the perks and flexible work options that make them feel valued. Many companies today are investing more resources in “stay interviews” to find out what makes current employees choose to stay and where their strengths lie. 

It’s also important to take inventory of your existing talent pool’s current skills, strengths, and their desired skills and career aspirations. Technology can help HR teams compile this data to create robust employee profiles that paint a better picture of what your workforce looks like. Ultimately, companies must think as deeply about their people as they do their customers.

Commit to New Hiring Frameworks

The life sciences companies successfully attracting talent in 2022 are those that have reconsidered standard hiring practices. Often, hiring managers want to hire a “perfect fit” candidate who fulfills every prerequisite for a position, even those which may not be critical for that role. 

By hiring for aptitude (as opposed to skills) and taking a more holistic approach to evaluating applicants for certain roles, recruiters can source more high-potential candidates. With the right training, these individuals can succeed in the position. 

Because independent contractors, freelancers and other contingent workers now make up a significant portion of the talent pool, employers can tap into these sources to fill roles quickly, particularly when business or project needs evolve. Offering non-traditional working arrangements can also help attract women and other individuals who have left the workforce.

Build a Sustainable Internal Mobility Program 

Due to the field’s talent scarcity, it’s critical to hold on to your top performers by offering them the chance to advance their careers within your organization. A formal internal mobility program can encourage employee retention and attract new talent looking to grow professionally. 

Hallmarks of a strong program often include:

  • Having team leaders work with their employees to create useful development plans that offer insight into possible career paths and their progress thus far.
  • Giving employees ample access to stretch assignments outside their skill set, formal training and job shadowing, and mentorship.
  • Ensuring that internal candidates are given a premium experience and that the application process is as seamless as possible.
  • Shifting hiring manager attitudes to make career moves across departments not only acceptable but encouraged.

Elevate Your Employer Brand

Today’s conditions make it important for employers to have an employee value proposition (EVP) that resonates with staff and candidates alike. Individuals pursuing careers in life sciences want to work for purpose-led, people-oriented companies. 

Craft authentic messages that tell your employer brand story, showcasing how the work your organization does contributes to the field and to society, as well as your approach to employee well-being, diversity and inclusion. 

Employers cannot simply display these values to candidates – they must commit to following through on a work environment driven by care and consideration. Although the life sciences field faces particular challenges in finding and engaging with diverse talent, strategies such as engaging with internal employee resource groups, driving meaningful referral programs, and robust early career opportunities can help accelerate the conversation in meaningful ways.

The right talent is a critical business need for life sciences companies. To combat current labor shortages and scale amid continued growth, organizations should leverage all four strategies. Working with a strategic partner will allow you to put these ideas into practice and best plan how to build and maintain the workforce you need to succeed. 

Connect with Josh Needle on LinkedIn.