Life science, pharma leaders worried about scarcity of talent

It’s their top pain point, according to a new survey of executives. Leaders are focused on recruiting and retention, but may need to focus more on diversity efforts.

Leaders of life sciences and pharmaceutical companies say it’s increasingly difficult to find the talent they need.

One in three C-suite leaders (33%) in the sector said talent scarcity is a serious problem, according to the new “Talent Trends” report issued by Randstad Sourceright, a recruiting firm. The need for talent was the top problem cited by executives, the report found.

More than half of those surveyed (55%) said they planned to hire extensively next year. Many executives (45%) said they are moving to bring on new people so their businesses aren’t slowed down by a talent crunch.

The life sciences and pharma leaders placed less emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts than other industry sectors, the report found. The report suggested those leaders may want to reconsider their approach.

The survey found 63% of life sciences and pharma executives said DEI initiatives were important to job candidates, the lowest of all sectors studied in the report. In fact, it was 16 percentage points lower than the average across all business sectors.

Roughly four in 10 executives (41%) said their hiring practices meshed with their diversity goals last year, also the lowest among each business sector studied.

Life sciences and pharma firms are competing with companies from all industries for a small pool of talent, said Mike Smith, global CEO of Randstad Sourceright.

“Failing to win the race for those skills will be costly, but a strong focus on the talent experience; offering purposeful workplace culture; maximizing flexibility; and investing in diversity, equity and inclusion can help companies stand out,” Smith said in a statement accompanying the report.

“Reskilling and upskilling talent will also be essential to combat talent scarcity and demonstrate how much organizations value their people."

More companies are investing in training their staff for new roles and also to give them more incentive to stick around. Two-thirds of the executives (67%) said training and development have proven to be effective in addressing their talent shortages.

More than half of the leaders surveyed (53%) said they were putting more money and effort into giving their employees new skills.

Most of the executives surveyed (77%) said they were more focused on finding and keeping workers than ever before.

Executives cited a few strategies that have proven to be successful in recruiting and retention, such as offering better pay and benefits, flexible work arrangements, focusing on their well-being, and their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The report reflected responses from more than 900 executives in 18 markets, the firm said.

Hospitals and health systems have also been wrestling with staff shortages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Many leaders have said they're dealing with shortages of nurses, along with respiratory therapists and infectious disease specialists.