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Company Culture: Your Solution for the Life Sciences War for Talent

We are witnessing a more candidate-driven hiring market than ever before.

The culmination of the pandemic, the Great Resignation, shifting workforce demographics, and the rise of automation have all led to a crucial moment for company culture.

Previous principles of company culture are shifting to accommodate a workforce that now drives demand and has a different set of values and priorities for their work.

For life sciences businesses, the hiring landscape is at a critical tipping point.

The demand for talent is often exceeding the supply, putting candidates in the driver’s seat – so how can life sciences companies begin to adjust their company culture to win the war for talent?

Let’s take a look at what company culture is, why it’s important, and how it can be your solution to the war for talent.

What is company culture?

Company culture defines an organisation’s shared goals, values, policies, procedures, how decisions are made, and importantly, how employees interact and work together.

It’s also vital to remember that successful company culture is bought into by every individual in a company, from the CEO to new employees.

MIT Sloan created a Culture 500 Index to measure how major companies rank across nine different values that they have identified as being critical to company culture, using data based on a sample of companies on Glassdoor.

Nine cultural values were identified:

  • Agility
  • Collaboration/li>
  • Customer/li>
  • Diversity/li>
  • Execution/li>
  • Innovation/li>
  • Integrity/li>
  • Performance/li>
  • Respect/li>

Biotech and pharma companies were found in the report to perform well in the customer, integrity, and respect category, with agility being the weakest-performing category. This seems very in line with the current hiring market, and the weakness related to the industry’s inability to move quickly and effectively to changes in the marketplace and seize new opportunities.

How is company culture evolving?

In the past, companies may have been reliant on defining their company culture mostly based on traditional benefits – salary, bonuses, health insurance – rather than forming a company culture based on values, procedures, and employee interactions.

Each company will have a different idea of an ideal culture, but it can be established by asking: Why does your company exist? What does your company stand for? What makes your company different from your competitors? Switzerland-based Roche Pharmaceuticals, for example, has been praised for its well-established systems and structure, good benefits, and Glassdoor feedback also indicates strong support of Roche’s CEO Severin Schwan. Roche has also been recognised as one of the most sustainable companies in the Pharmaceuticals index of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), having a strong focus on social responsibility and generating value for society which are strong elements of their company culture. This is a key indicator of the way that company culture is changing. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) were previously seen as optional elements of company values, yet now CSR and ESG are integral to company culture and wider attraction and retention efforts. Candidates and employees want to contribute towards work that is making a positive difference.

What do life sciences employees and candidates want?

This question should form the way that your company culture is established or adjusted, and also be kept in mind as a reason to include employees in the process.

Shifting company culture overnight is unlikely to be successful – you want to get it right, which means that you need to form your company culture from those who will act as ambassadors in the long term.

So, what are candidates and employees looking for in company culture?

Work-life balance is very high on the agenda currently across industries.

Data from 2021 revealed that 51% of workers prefer a more flexible working model post-pandemic, with 30% stating they would most likely switch jobs if work returned to full on-site.

But how can you integrate better work-life balance into your company culture in a way that will be authentic?

Ensure that all employees are using their annual leave days, and if not, enquire as to why and use this feedback to form better practices where possible (e.g. do they feel as though they can’t take time off? If so, how can this be resolved?)

Schedule regular breaks throughout the day and encourage employees to leave their workspaces.

Offer flexible working hours where possible so that employees can work around other commitments (e.g. childcare or appointments) without using their annual leave.

Promote an open culture in which employees know they can approach management for confidential discussions, and if possible, offer access to private mental health care and make employees aware that they can access this at any time.

Why is feedback so important in company culture?

In an industry as fast-paced and innovative as life sciences, change is inevitable, as is the need to be agile.

If an organisation has a hybrid workforce, feedback could indicate that there need to be clearly defined rules around communication between remote and on-site employees.

For example, is it more beneficial to prioritise a set time for team catch-ups over a video conference to benefit from the social element?

Put simply, company culture is not a one-and-done process, it’s a constant work in progress and needs to be nurtured through regular feedback.

For many organisations already utilising a culture committee – a group of employees that come together to drive cultural success – this feedback process will already be easy to implement through a pre-existing process of gathering information across departments and offices and communicating changes across the company.

The bottom line

The considerable shift in company culture is something that life sciences organisations have been adapting to with varying degrees of speed and success.

This makes strong company culture a significant competitive advantage – meeting the current demand for more flexible, meaningful work through company culture is valuable for both attraction and retention purposes.

Life sciences organisations that make an effort to continually adapt their company culture through feedback will undoubtedly come out on top in the War for Talent, due to consistency and the implementation of new, fresh ideas.

Get in touch

To read more in-depth advice to win the battle for life sciences talent, read our full guide here.

Get in touch with the Panda team today for expert advice on securing top talent for your life sciences company.