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Career development crucial to science talent

Richard Thomas

Employees at life sciences companies are becoming disengaged and looking to leave as career ambitions outweigh internal opportunities. Comment Richard Thomas, Client Services Director at ProClinical.

According to the industry employee engagement report, based on a survey of 1400 respondents compiled by life science staffing agency ProClinical, high engagement among new employees is driven by career development.

This engagement declines over time to the point where employees plan to move on as current employers fail to offer further progression.

The report on employee engagement at pharmaceutical, medical device, biotechnology and clinical research organisations, found that engagement is as high as 71 percent among employees in their first 6 months of service, however this falls to 59 percent for workers employed for 3-5 years – the same period in which employees are most likely to leave.

During this 3-5 year ‘danger zone’ only 39 percent of employees see themselves working at the same company in 12 months’ time, compared with 65 percent for employees in their first 6 months. The figure decreases gradually with 50 percent for staff employed 6-12 months and 43 percent for workers who have been with their current employer for 1-3 years.

Interestingly, engagement increases again to 45 percent for those employed for longer than five years. When asked what they thought had the most influence on their engagement at work, 18 percent of respondents said that career support and development opportunities offered by their employer influenced their engagement more than anything else, including recognition (13 percent), being paid fairly (8 percent) and their relationship with line management (8 percent).

Although career development made the top of employees ‘wish-list’, only 39 percent of workers stated their satisfaction with development opportunities available to them within their current company. Richard Thomas, Client Services Director at ProClinical commented: “One of the challenges that our clients often face is the loss of productivity and mounting costs when having to replace key personnel.”

“The most successful companies that we work with take a proactive approach to development, focussing on succession planning and utilising personal development plans and secondments to give employees opportunities to develop. Those employers are the ones who not only retain employees for longer but set themselves apart when it comes to attracting the best talent too.”

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