Why Life Sciences Incumbents Need to Adapt Their Talent Management Strategies

It’s important to understand that talent management plays a large role in cost control and risk management.

By Matt Yeager, Vice President, Global Solutions - Life Sciences Vertical  |  January 18, 2017

According to the Wall Street Journal article titled “2016 Life Sciences Industry Outlook,” some of the main concerns for life sciences companies include cost control and risk management. It’s important to understand that talent management plays a large role in these endeavors on a number of levels:

  • Optimizing talent acquisition and management to minimize waste and achieve the best possible ROI on talent spend
  • Finding the best regulatory talent to minimize risk and ensure compliance
  • Having access to top talent to drive innovation and enhance the company’s competitive edge

However, the way life sciences companies approach talent management has traditionally been distinct depending on whether they’re startups or incumbents.

Startups logically have much lower budgets, so utilizing contingent labor is a necessary cost-controlling strategy. However, with a rising number of highly skilled life sciences and tech workers becoming free agents, startups with relatively low available talent spend find themselves competing with companies with much higher budgets. Since they can’t outbid established employers in terms of salaries and benefits, they have to find other ways to make themselves attractive to top talent, for example by advertising their cutting-edge work, offering maximum flexibility, and highlighting the social responsibility of their projects.

Incumbents, on the other hand, despite having larger talent budgets, face their own challenges. While many established companies prefer to have a fulltime, on-site workforce, the truth is that some of the best talent don’t want traditional employment contracts. They prefer the flexibility of being free agents so they can select the projects that interest them most and have control of their own career paths. Yet established companies are lagging in creating conditions that offer those factors that highly skilled talent value such as remote work, project-based assignments, and collaborative work environments.

This dichotomy becomes even clearer during acquisitions. When a large incumbent buys up a start-up, there’s a high probability the respective company cultures are extremely different. Yet since a large part of a company’s value lies in its human capital, employers need to find a way to balance the different types of talent and ensure they have a core workforce of full-time employees, as well as a large pool of skilled, specialized talent for contingent work they can employ when and where needed. This requires an in-depth analysis of the combined workforce and thoughtful planning as to how to create effective talent strategies that support the ultimate business objective of the acquisition.

An experienced workforce solutions company like Kelly® can play an important role in helping life sciences incumbents attract, and in the event of an acquisition, retain the talent they need. First of all, we can advise employers on how to adapt their offerings in order to become attractive for top talent. Second, we can provide BPO in the event it’s more financially responsible to outsource a specific process than to perform it in-house. And third, since we have a talent-centric approach, we establish strong, long-term relationships with workers who rely on us to find their next opportunity so they can concentrate on their work.

What’s the most important workforce challenge your company is facing in 2017? Share your insights and see where an informed conversation can go.

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