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Retention in your C-suite – How a blend of effective talent management and culture can increase your retention rate in the pharmaceutical sector

11th September 2019 | Jacob Raddings

Retention in your C-suite – How a blend of effective talent management and culture can increase your retention rate in the pharmaceutical sector

31% of senior executives believe that employee retention and training are the biggest talent management issues in their industry - with the retention of proficient employees being cited as especially concerning for larger businesses. 

The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are not exempt from these statistics – in fact, retention rate is more crucial than ever in this industry. This is due to multiple factors, such as technology advancing at a rate of knots, political inconsistencies affecting markets, and the rise of biotechnology start-ups.

Biotechnology and pharmaceutical businesses have also been severely affected by negative press and scandals. Co-founder and chief scientific officer of Regeneron, George Yancopoulos commented that “Science has become a bad name, and a worse name is biopharma.”

Further highlighting the crisis of public opinion is that “For the first time, Americans have scored the pharmaceutical sector lowest of 25 major industries in Gallup’s annual poll of the matter.”

All of these factors have led to increasing instability and difficulties in retaining talent – most worryingly in leadership positions.

Losing talent at the top can leave you with a number of skills gaps that can negatively affect the progress of your business for the foreseeable future. Avoiding the issue requires that you not only recruit candidates most suited to the position, but also provide and maintain a culture that they’d be loathed to abandon.

How can talent management help you to avoid these problems?

Ensuring that your business has a talent management strategy in place that identifies the exact qualities and skill sets needed for a specific role is the first step to improving employee retention.

By recognising exactly what it is you’re looking for in C-suite employees, you can streamline the entire recruitment process and reduce any uncertainty between your prospects and what is required of them within their role.

Being transparent and comprehensive in specifying your business’ exact requirements also further reduces the risk that you may hire talent with a lack of the skills required for the position you are offering. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that your chosen candidates will stay with your company and provide a substantial return on investment.

In the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, there is a vast demand for leaders with unparalleled competence in their fields. However, beyond experience and skill set, there is plenty more to consider.

Roberto Pucci, executive vice president for human resources at Sanofi, commented that “Personally, I… look for authenticity. Does this person have a genuine interest? Do they want to grow and build something beyond themselves? Do they aspire to make a difference in healthcare and serve a common purpose?”

Pucci raises an interesting point, one that is more topical than ever before in the wake of huge scandals, and a decline of public opinion of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Ultimately, his point suggests that a talent management strategy must also consider the ambition of your prospects, as well as the legacies they hope to leave.

An effective talent management strategy will also highlight prospects who aren’t yet ready for the role that you have on offer, or that simply aren’t up to the task. Without being strenuous with your talent management methods, people may slip through the cracks, which will ultimately harm long term progression.

How can company culture help?

Industry publication Pharmafield notes that culture is “…far more than preferences or working habits. It’s in the metaphorical bloodstream of a company.” This is an entirely true statement that highlights the importance of ensuring that your company culture is healthy and fair for all.

But… What exactly is company culture?

There are many aspects of the way that your company conducts its business that will contribute to the overall company culture, or “feel”.

Leadership style, training and development opportunities, work-life balance and flexible working opportunities – all of these and more are contributing factors to the identity of your business.

By pinpointing how you would like your business to operate and be perceived both internally and externally, you can begin to improve upon the culture, thereby increasing retention by ensuring that your business is a positive place to work.

Company culture in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors is an often neglected construct. Bruce Booth, a partner at Atlas Venture commented “…not meaning to be cynical, but nearly every biotech says it values the same things: committed to great science; open, connected and collaborative; innovative and pioneering…But they are by and large also ubiquitous in our industry, bordering on banal in many cases.”

The lack of stable and beneficial company cultures in the sector leaves a window of opportunity for businesses looking to retain talent. By investing real effort in improving your company culture, you can position yourself above competitors and make your workplace a more attractive place to work – and stay.

It is well documented that hiring for both skill and culture-fit results in a more productive and content workforce. Psychological studies from the likes of Amy L. Kristof-Brown et al. support this as a scientific fact.

To avoid difficulties down the line, it’s key to raise company culture at the interview stage to gauge whether your candidate will fit with the culture of your organisation. It’s entirely pointless to recruit talent in the sole basis of skill set and competence, only to find that they are out of step with the culture of your company and unlikely to settle in.

This is also central to maintaining your company culture. It’s well known that company culture is dictated from the top, which makes it crucial that your C-suite is stocked with talent that is in line with the values of your organisation.

In conclusion…

By putting an effective talent management strategy into action, in conjunction with fostering an enviable company culture, you are placing your business in a far stronger position for retaining C-suite staff in the long run.

In order to execute a successful talent management strategy, your business could benefit from specialists in the field, such as Goodall Brazier. We are experts in the niche market of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and well-versed in identifying the calibre of talent required in the role that you are looking to fulfil.

Our industry professionals have decades of experience and relationships with long-standing leaders of the sector that are experienced in steering businesses towards success.

By attaining talent that is both equipped with the right skills, and a good fit for your company and its culture, you can better secure the future success of your business in 2020 and beyond.