28 November 2023

Recruitment and retention of talent in life science

Recruitment and retention of employees are crucial when building a strong team within life science. We’ve asked Kristian Kantsø from TEMP-TEAM A/S to share his knowledge in this article.
Attracting talent in life science

The best practices for building a strong life science team

Recruitment and retention of competent workforce in life science are crucial for the growth of companies.

Alongside Kristian Kantsø, who has extensive experience in recruiting and retaining employees, we shed light on how to best acquire the most skilled professionals for your team. He serves as the Business Unit Manager at TEMP-TEAM A/S, assisting companies in finding specialists within the life science field.

Cover the entire market when recruiting

When recruiting new employees in life science, according to Kristian Kantsø, it’s essential to explore the entire market thoroughly, something many tend to overlook.

“People tend to opt for the easy solutions when it comes to staffing. They simply reach out within their network because it’s convenient. However, there might be better solutions. By relying solely on your network, you can be sure you’re not tapping into the entire market.”

He describes recruitment as a reflective process concerning what makes the most sense regarding team composition. Therefore, ‘cutting corners’ isn’t usually optimal simply because it’s the cheapest solution,” he says.”

Your new life science employee might not become a star player until two years from now

Kristian Kantsø believes there’s great inspiration to draw from the world of sports when recruiting life science employees. He mentions that you must accept that people switch positions after a while. It’s important to have someone ready to take over.

“Often, you expects a new employee to pick up where the predecessor left off, but that’s a misinterpretation of the reality the employee faces. It’s crucial to consider what the predecessor evolved into.”

Kristian Kantsø
Business Unit Manager at TEMP-TEAM A/S

According to Kristian Kantsø, the problem is that life science companies are often very busy.

“Many companies operate at 110% capacity and lack resources to train people. The problem stems from the notion that people don’t have room to learn. If you embrace learning, you’ll broaden your candidate pool and start looking for those who have the potential to be your star player in two years,” he explains.

Are you in need of a recruitment agency?

Kristian Kantsø assists life science companies in finding the right employees. He explains that investing in external help to find a candidate can be worthwhile, but it depends on the stage the company is in.

“Even if you invest resources in recruitment, there are no guarantees. However, you gain processes that help separate the wheat from the chaff.”

He mentions that cheap labor might be attractive but only sometimes the right fit. Companies need to consider their stage and finances. He acknowledges that outsourcing recruitment can be costly.

“100,000-200,000 kroner is significant for a newly established company. Conversely, that investment can be incredibly worthwhile for a company in a crucial acceleration phase, where making mistakes is costly.”

Kristian Kantsø
Business Unit Manager at TEMP-TEAM A/S

Three tips to retain your new employee

When you’ve found your candidate, it’s about retaining the employee if you want to avoid ending up in a new recruitment process.

1) Sell honesty in the first 100 days

Kristian Kantsø emphasizes the importance of the initial period.

“The most important thing is to sell honesty in the first 100 days. You need to sell the position you’ve advertised. If things change or aren’t as expected, retaining the employee is difficult,” says Kristian Kantsø.

2) Introduction is not onboarding

According to Kristian Kantsø, there’s a significant misunderstanding in how companies interpret onboarding versus introduction.

“Companies label their introduction programs as onboarding. An introduction program is what you have in the first 2-4 weeks, where you get to know the coffee machine, are introduced to the systems, and get to know your colleagues. But that only has a little to do with onboarding.

He explains that onboarding involves ongoing alignment of expectations with the new colleague and discussing what to expect from each other. It’s a kind of neutral breather that shouldn’t be confused with an employee development conversation.

“Often, you might feel the pressure to perform within X number of months as a new hire. That’s when you need to align expectations with your manager, who should say that it’s okay to take it slow and that no one has succeeded within nine months.”

3) Salary is crucial for retention

Three cornerstones must be in place to retain your employees: salary, development opportunities, and logistics. Otherwise, there’s no foundation for success.

“Now, we’ve spent years talking about how salary isn’t important, but the truth is, salary is crucial. It doesn’t have to be fantastic, but it needs to be fair and just,” says Kristian Kantsø.

He explains that salaries in life science are high. Therefore, it can be challenging for smaller companies to compete on salary when they can’t offer a package of 50,000 and two extra weeks of vacation.

“In that case, you need to emphasize empowerment and entrepreneurship. Small companies can offer co-ownership, which can appeal to those who have worked within very rigid frameworks.”

Get help with the recruitment of new employees

Temp-Team has over 25 years of experience recruiting Pharma and Life Science employees. Are you interested in learning more about how they can assist in finding suitable candidates for your life science company?
Read more (in Danish).