Plan Your Strategy to Prevent Scientific “Brain Drain”

Researcher working in a lab

Consumer demand is currently on the rise for products and services provided by health care, pharma and biotech industries and the future is even more promising, due largely to the increasing medical needs of an aging U.S. population. Unfortunately, the widespread retirement of current workers is leaving clinical and scientific organizations struggling with gaps in the staffing and skills needed to satisfy that demand.

Hiring managers may believe they have at least a decade before the talent exodus reaches a critical point — the last baby boomers retire around 2030 — but a revitalized stock market that has boosted many retirement funds may encourage many workers aged 50+ to leave the workforce sooner.

That’s why it’s important to note that there’s a window of opportunity right now to secure additional employees in order to have time to accommodate the transfer of knowledge necessary to maintain company operations and achieve business objectives.

“Taking into account the ongoing War for Talent, enterprising employers realize they may need a more strategic approach to replace workers that are leaving the workforce and fill critical skills gaps,” explains Justin Dragoo, a strategic account executive for Aerotek.

“Many employers prioritize hiring candidates with five or more years of experience,” he continues. “But it’s definitely worth it for them to take a fresh look at science degree holders who have little or no experience in the industry for their positions.”

Why workers choose science jobs

Clinical and scientific organizations have many features that make them an attractive option, Dragoo notes. An organization that is researching a cure for cancer, for instance, offers a compelling incentive for workers who want to work on something important. Technology fans may be attracted to the booming medical devices industry, which is leveraging smart devices to revolutionize patient monitoring and care. Candidates who are detail-oriented and precise may be well-suited for positions in quality assurance and quality control.

Hiring managers who promote these jobs as an opportunity to collaborate with others, drive innovation and engage in possibly life-changing work, Dragoo notes, convey a powerful message that lures top talent.

Building an attrition-proof workforce

Retaining valued employees after you’ve invested in onboarding and training is a common concern among employers, Dragoo adds, but the solution might be simpler than it seems.

“Hiring managers should develop and follow a documented onboarding process to avoid turning a great hire into a not-so-great employee,” notes a summary of a 2016 Allegis Group Talent Advisory Survey.  A strategic and deliberate onboarding process will help ensure new employees are given the best chances for success. After that, continual performance management is crucial too. Open and honest communication for the first few months and even years can reinforce productive behaviors and allow plenty of time for course correction when issues occur.

Incorporate your company’s specific priorities into the training, Dragoo recommends. “That way, you’re doing the best job of preparing the employee for what success means in your organization.”

Chief among your training priorities should be the importance of knowledge transfer, which is nowhere more critical than in the scientific industries. Seizing this opportunity to implement a talent strategy that maintains your intellectual capital can help position forward-thinking organizations to build a long-term workforce and continue to succeed.

Want to learn more about hiring science workers? Contact Aerotek now.