Heading Off a Resume Tsunami: A View From the Life Sciences Sector
Christie Smith, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Homi Kapadia, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Life sciences companies know all about the threat of a resume tsunami. For years, legislative changes, consumer-driven choices and other market forces have driven them to take a future-oriented view of talent. Additional pressure has come from workforce aging; a shortage of science and engineering graduates; rising operating costs; a need to drive future R&D growth and innovation; and, for some companies, a need to expand globally to reduce labor costs and increase the supply of technical, engineering and scientific talent. Beyond that, most life sciences companies have global operations, which require senior executives with leadership experience in different parts of the world.
The downturn in the economy has sharpened their focus on recruiting and retaining key workforce segments. For many life sciences companies, the heart of their talent strategies revolves around science. Their first priority is to attract and retain scientists who have the clinical expertise that drives innovation and market leadership. Most of that talent is no longer coming from Western nations such as the US, but from emerging markets. To compete for top math and science graduates, life sciences companies need effective global recruiting and retention programs.
In addition, life sciences companies face the challenge of appropriately organizing their R&D functions to work seamlessly with their marketing and sales functions to meet the demands of a more informed customer base. This increases the talent and organizational requirements in Marketing and Sales as well. The ability to work across functions is now a core competency. Yet, many life sciences companies continue to fall short in this area, impeding their growth and first-to-market strategies.
Most life sciences companies are aware of these challenges. However, given the increased activity in mergers, acquisitions and biotech alliances, many organizations must find leadership capable of managing across functional capabilities and in a highly matrixed, complex global environment. Without that kind of leadership, it will be difficult to deliver on the promise of their product pipelines.
Although life sciences companies should consider taking advantage of downturn-driven opportunities to attract top talent, they must recognize that it’s not just about supply and demand. It’s about harnessing talent for competitive advantage. In addition, companies need a clear retention strategy that gives employees what they really want – meaningful and rewarding work, flexibility, professional development and rewards programs that align with their true needs and priorities.
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