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Re-location, re-location, re-location

Article by: Alex Bennett | Published: 22 September 2017

Political and economic uncertainty is causing people to think harder about re-locating to new jobs abroad. How can the life sciences sector meet the challenge? By Alex Bennett, CEO, The RSA Group.

Our current climate is one of significant political and economic uncertainty, affecting the life sciences sector as much as any other, and likely to persist for the foreseeable future. Shortages in talent have pushed mobility up the boardroom agenda, requiring HR departments to search further afield for skilled individuals in high demand. 77 percent of CEO’s say that they have to move talent to where they need it[1]. However, in the face of such unpredictability there is a growing reluctance of talented senior personnel to relocate to other countries in search of new roles, considering the inevitable consequences for both their professional and personal lives.

 Think forward

The difficulties, both for company and employee, are clear. Uprooting your family, cutting ties with friends, adjusting to new cultures and possibly a new language, to name but a few. However, we should remember that the best defence is a good offence. Companies need to be more forward thinking, and make accommodations to ease the transition for employees – accepting the situation rather than responding and adapting is not an option if growth and success are the goal.

The question must be, how can we overcome these challenges? There are benefits for those willing to make changes, and enable the movement of talent. “[Encouraging location transfers] will help a company build loyalty. It will help you retain your people and it will grow them into better leaders tomorrow,” says Eliza Scherrer, US Global Mobility Strategy Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “All of that brings value to an organization.”[2]

Strategies to succeed

Moving people is expensive. One route will be to set up both local and remote offices to mitigate risk and to accommodate the needs of the workforce. However, this won’t work for all. Technology will play a key role in maintaining the best talent by enabling employees to work or live remotely:  international and daily commuters, as well as remote working, are increasing. However, technology won’t diminish the need to have people deployed ‘on the ground’.

Increasingly, pressure will be placed on HR to provide evidence and insight to support mobility decisions and manage costs, and this means embracing the analytical techniques that support it – due diligence is critical.

Key Risks and Value

The key will be to identify where the human intellectual capital lies – who possesses the necessary skills to drive your business forward – and how do you protect this talent. Soft skills of creativity and innovation, leadership, emotional intelligence, adaptability and problem solving are reported as the hardest to recruit[3], and therefore crucial to protect.

Executives must recognise the very real risks for the company by not acquiring the right talent in the right role, and do their utmost to support all employees – both those willing to make the journey and those unable to do so.

Life sciences companies, regardless of locale, need to continue to move talent around the world. Highly skilled people are in short supply – due diligence at the point of hiring is key for what is a vital transaction. Now, more than ever, companies need specialist knowledge to advise with authority on the complexity of the issue for both the candidate and the company.

[1] PWC’s 20th CEO Survey, 2017

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexandratalty/2014/01/22/successfully-negotiating-a-location-transfer/#2211402a3321

[3] PWC’s 20th CEO Survey, 2017