The UK has one of the strongest and most productive life sciences industries in the world, employing hundreds of thousands of highly skilled development and research professionals who command a wage premium.
However the high skill set requirements of the industry drawn from the physical sciences, the life sciences and informatics mean that employers are trying to find a specific type of person from an increasingly limited pool of candidates.
It is therefore imperative that employers of science and research professionals have a solid understanding of what motivates these highly skilled workers when developing their talent attraction and retention strategies.
In the Hays What Workers Want Report 2017, we examined the importance of four key factors for life sciences professionals – pay, culture, career progression and benefits – that are pivotal to the decision about whether to stay in a job or whether to accept a new one.
In summary, our findings highlighted:
Competitive pay is important, but not a stand-alone factor
Not surprisingly, science and research professionals rank pay as the single most important factor influencing their career-related decisions, followed by culture, career progression and benefits. The competition for talent remains strong and salaries need to be benchmarked with up-to-date information.
While pay is still the most influential factor, other work environment factors do come into play, such as what project teams or clinical trials they get to work on.
In line with the overall theme, it is the total package of pay, benefits, career progression and culture which is important, as no one overarching factor dominates the decision to stay or move job.
Employees want clear pathways to leadership positions
Science and research professionals are very ambitious and keen to progress to high levels of seniority. When asked what level of seniority they hoped to reach in their career, a quarter stated they want to reach C-suite level, higher than the UK average of 21%.
Furthermore, 22% believe moving up a level in their organisation is the most important aspect of a promotion. Employers should therefore be sure to demonstrate a clear path of progression to potential candidates and existing employees.
The expectation of promotion further demonstrates the ambition of science and research professionals, the majority (63%) of whom expect promotion within their first two years of employment in a new role. Likewise, a particularly ambitious 19% expect to advance within the very first year at an organisation.
Professionals seek more training from external providers
With a workforce that is ambitious and wants to reach the top of their profession, it isn’t surprising that moving up a level in the organisation is most highly rated from a promotion. However, there’s still work to be done when it comes to offering employees different types of training and development opportunities in order to get to the next level.
While employers seem to be meeting the demand for on-the-job training, they fall short in regards to external training from third party providers, which 70% of science and research employees would like, but only 43% of employers currently offer.
Flexible working is always considered when assessing a new role
Benefits may be the least prioritised overall – compared to pay, culture and career progression – but that’s not to say science and research professionals don’t factor them into their decision.
In fact, candidates will almost always consider what benefits policies are available to them before deciding whether or not to apply.
Flexible working in particular is important, as 66% of science and research professionals always consider it (compared to the UK overall of 47%) when assessing a new role.
Find out more about what life sciences professionals want – request your copy of our What Workers Want report.
For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant.