Is Your Life Sciences Talent A Flight Risk?
The pandemic changed how we live, how we work, how we connect with others. But perhaps most fundamentally, it changed us. It made many of us reassess our values and what’s important in our lives. Often this has led to some pretty big moments of career clarity. Perhaps someone doesn’t want to live at the office and has decided to look for a role with better work-life balance. Or maybe Covid-19 helped them to realise that life is short and nudged them to pursue their passion or side hustle. Whatever the reason, more and more people have been inspired to make a change. Research from Prudential found that 26% of workers plan to look for a job with a different employer once the threat of the pandemic has decreased. While 1 in 5 had already made a complete career switch.
These statistics have left many life sciences organisations worried. And the fast-growing (and fast-innovating) pharma and biotech industries are already facing talent shortages and skills gaps. The truth is that some of your best people probably are a flight risk, but there are changes you can make to ensure that your organization is somewhere great talent wants to be.
In this blog, I look at the factors driving this talent tsunami and the ways life sciences organisations can address them.
Tackle Burn Out
The pandemic has been incredibly stressful. Not only has the mental impact of living through a global health crisis been enormous, but some workers have also had to take on additional caring duties, with many (especially women) juggling home working with homeschooling. Research carried out by Eagle Hill found that burnout levels rose from 45 to 58% during the pandemic with most employees citing workload as the key cause. In life sciences, many workers have also faced increasing pressure as organisations have stepped up to develop vaccines, produce vital medical equipment or devices, or divert production to focus on Covid-19 driven priorities. Organisations have to show their appreciation for workers who gave their all during the pandemic and provide proper support and care to ensure they continue to feel valued. Employers who want to avoid losing workers to burnout need to embrace benefits, resources, and flexibility – providing employees with the support they need. Those who want to turn back the clock and reinstate pre-pandemic policies are likely to lose more talent.
Support Employee Growth
More time at home over the last 18 months has given people more time to reflect on areas where they would like to improve and grow. Prudential found that 46% of workers reevaluated their skill sets during the pandemic. But if people feel there are no opportunities to upskill in the workplace, they are likely to look elsewhere for advancement. Upskilling is not only a vital part of employee engagement, it’s crucial for life sciences companies that need to keep up with fast-moving technological and scientific innovation. Organisations should ensure that skills training and development are central to their employee offering. This can feel overwhelming when many businesses are navigating uncertain times, but it’s vital to keeping workers engaged and organisations well skilled.
What do your workers really want? It’s a big question and one that you probably don’t have the whole answer to. Some post-pandemic offerings, like the ability to work flexibly and remotely, may be no-brainers but others such as strong mental health support and training on new digital and virtual tools may be less obvious. To shine a light on these issues, it’s important to talk (and listen) to workers – employee surveys and meaningful exit interviews can help you to identify areas where you can improve.
McKinsey research found that nearly 2/3 of employees had taken time to reflect on their purpose in life following Covid-19, while 70% said that their sense of purpose is defined by their work. Purpose has never been more important to employees around the world and being able to connect what you do and why you do it to the people inside your business is vital in making workers feel like they are part of something bigger. Many pharma and biotech organisations are doing truly life-changing work and every worker at every level is a part of that story. Infuse your worker engagement strategy with purpose to retain great people for longer.
Many life sciences businesses will lose talent over the next months and years, and attrition rates are likely to be higher than they were in the past. But this is an opportunity to reset and reevaluate, to ensure your employee offering is competitive, and to focus on what your people really want. The world has changed and the way you engage and support workers has to change right along with it. What are you doing to stem the tide of the great talent tsunami?