Why Your Life Science Stars Decide To Leave
March 20, 2017
Competition is fierce for talent in the life science sector, and losing your star players can be a crushing blow for your team and company goals.
In the US biotech/pharma sector, it was predicted that up to 51% of employees would seek new roles in 2016, indicating just how serious the problem of retention in life sciences can be.
In this week’s blog we discuss some of the key reasons that star performers move on, as well as some telltale signs they’re planning to quit.
10 Common Triggers for Leaving
1. A bad relationship with management.
‘People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses’, or so the saying goes. To a significant extent, that’s true, with one of the most frequently-cited reasons for leaving a company being that the employee doesn’t like their immediate first line manager.
Takeaway: It is crucial that the right people are selected and comprehensively trained for management positions, as well as incorporating a feedback loop so any issues with management-employee relations are picked up early.
2. A Lack of Training.
If life science professionals are not given sufficient training and development, they will move to a company that will. According to a study by ProClinical, 88% of employees who are given the opportunity of comprehensive training courses intend to stay with the company for at least 12 months.
Takeaway: Training and development is a major factor influencing retention in life sciences, and improving your company’s training offerings is one of the most straightforward ways to get employees to stick around.
3. An unclear career path in the company.
If an employee feels there is little potential for promotion or clear career path in the company, they have no incentive to stay, particularly given the current candidate’s market. These employees are particularly vulnerable to being poached by your competition with an exciting new opportunity.
Takeaway: Career planning should be begun during the interview process and continued throughout the employee’s time with the company, with regular check-ins by management to ask whether the role is fulfilling their expectations and goals.
4. Insecurity about the company’s future.
It may be talks of mergers, new senior management, or funding problems- all will destabilise the team and have them searching other possibilities.
Takeaway: As a manager, it’s your role to provide a strong and consistent message during times of change.
5. They can’t sense the importance of their contribution.
Every employee needs to be shown how important they are to the success of the team and wider company.
Takeaway: Be sure to communicate the vision and where the employee fits into that vision.
6. They’re offered a ‘better’ package
Compensation and a great benefits package are vital, especially in a time when well-qualified talent is extremely hot property, you’d best be prepared to compensate your performer’s if you want to retain them.
Takeaway: Be very clear on what the industry benchmarks are for salary and benefits, and pay them. If you’re unsure what you should be offering, get in contact with your recruiter.
7. A lack of culture fit.
The employee doesn’t feel the company culture matches their values, and will seek a better fit elsewhere.
Takeaway: Talk honestly about culture in the interview process, so that the candidate can speculate on whether they’ll fit in well. A specialist recruitment company will know your culture and will send you appropriate hires. If a problematic workplace culture is leading to high turnover, implement a culture plan.
8. Poor work-life balance.
Many life science occupations include long hours and high stress, and companies that don’t seek to ease this burden will suffer a needlessly high turnover.
Takeaway: Consider flexible working options, such as remote work, lieu days, flexible hours, and in-house crèches for parents.
9. They feel they’re being taken for granted.
Managers that assume star performers will always turn out the same high output without being rewarded are risking losing their talent.
Takeaway: Never forget to praise and reward commensurate with performance.
10. Life events trigger dissatisfaction.
Employees are compelled to leave jobs due to a variety of circumstances—moving locations, starting a family, illness—and there’s often, little an employer can do to improve retention in these cases. However, there are also other life events which often spur employees to start job-hunting, such as major birthdays (12% rise in job-seeking), school reunions (16% rise), and work anniversaries (6% rise).
Takeaway: Keep an eye out for these life event triggers in your team. These feelings of disenchantment around life milestones are often less anchored in real dissatisfaction with the job than comparing their success with their peers’ or their own childhood dreams, and these employees can therefore often be retained with incentives, bonuses, or even just recognition.
Signs they may be leaving
As a manager it’s very important to identify the telltale signs your star employee is considering a move, so that you can take steps to either reinvigorate their performance or prepare for their departure. Generally the following signs will present one to two months before the employee resigns.
1. They show reluctance to commit to long-term projects, and lose interest in future bonus schemes.
2. They start dressing smarter to work, a sign they’re attending interviews.
3. Their social media and networking presence markedly increases, such as on LinkedIn.
4. They stop complaining about things they used to care about deeply, or they become visibly frustrated and argumentative.
5. They’re less involved in meetings, and offer less new ideas.
6. Their productivity drops, and they no longer go beyond what is required of them.
7. They arrive and leave on the dot of office hours.
8. They use their personal email to contact clients or add this to their LinkedIn profile, a sign they may be moonlighting.
9. They ask for copies of their sales stats, research reports, or other work results- a clear sign they’re updating their CV
10. They avoid social engagements with management and other employees.
Life science firms must formulate a comprehensive long-term talent strategy to attract and retain top talent. Knowing the reasons that employees leave, and noticing the signs of disengagement when they arise are two key pillars of your wider workforce planning strategy.