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Biotech’s Looming Talent Crisis: 5 Ways to Prepare for the Storm

Opinion

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environment for Gen X and millennials risk high turnover or talent shortages as employees are wooed by more enticing companies or industries. We can’t let this happen—we have medicines to create and diseases to conquer. Biotech leadership teams can position themselves for success by preparing for the big changes ahead. Here’s five ways to get started:

Start succession planning now. Generational shifts in the workplace mean it’s critical to mentor younger talent. Prioritize programs that pass knowledge and skills from older talent to the next generation of leaders. A happy byproduct: mentorships also help women, who cite mentorship as critical to their advancement, and minorities, who aspire to the C-suite but often don’t get the support they need.

Evaluate your corporate culture. Consider flexible hours, ability to work remotely, and performance-driven work, which are extremely attractive to potential hires. These changes may seem scary to implement, but I’ve seen firsthand the loyalty companies get from their employees for implementing such changes. Employees will walk on water for you. And the good news is everyone wants these changes—millennials have just been the first generation to have technology that made this a possibility.

Engage and attract new talent pools. The future workforce will include a greater share of women—who now receive the majority of doctorates in life sciences—underrepresented minorities, and age-diverse candidates (both older and younger). It’s critical to tap into these markets and keep these employees happy once they’re hired. I highly recommend employee training in unconscious bias to ensure you have a welcoming environment for all. Working with an executive recruiter who is tapped into new, qualified talent pools and can help you find the right people quickly and efficiently.

Think outside the benefits box. In addition to traditional retirement benefits, millennials are particularly concerned about paying for education—both their own and their children’s. Offer tuition reimbursement and college savings plan. Matching charitable gifts are also attractive to this generation.

Embrace your higher mission. Millennials, in particular, are drawn to companies that allow them to give back to society. They want their work to have meaning and purpose. What better industry than biotech to make this happen? To recruit and retain talent, biotech companies will be well served by emphasizing their patient impact and the role each person has in bringing new healthcare innovations to the market.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to begin making changes to your recruiting practices and company culture. How will you stand out from the crowd in the eyes of the talent you seek? And once you’ve hired promising employees, how will you make sure they remain engaged in their work?

Now’s the time to think about how you’ll attract the next generation of leaders to your company. We need the best and the brightest tackling the hardest diseases and finding the best solutions. Patients are counting on us.

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Robin Toft is the president and CEO of Toft Group Executive Search. Over the course of her career in executive search, Ms. Toft has placed hundreds of executives, from director through C-level positions in biotech, pharmaceutical, diagnostic, medical device, and digital health companies. Follow @

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