In Healthcare and Life Sciences, Competition Is Everywhere – But So Is Opportunity

In Healthcare and Life Sciences, Competition Is Everywhere – But So Is Opportunity

When it comes to competing for top talent, healthcare and life sciences companies face myriad challenges. One challenge is the pressing need for IT and data professionals, which are common in all sectors—as ManpowerGroup’s Q2 2023 Employment Outlook Survey demonstrates. To take just one example, healthcare and life science companies are leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) in many applications, such as the development and patenting of new drugs and the improvement of consumer portals that play a vital role in telemedicine treatment. The challenge here is that, as CHROs are sorely aware, nearly all businesses in all industries are also eager to hire AI/ML skills. The competition is fierce.

Other challenges are more industry-specific. In healthcare and life sciences today, including pharmaceuticals and medical device makers, divestiture and spinoffs are common. Pharmaceutical companies are exploring divestitures of non-core business units— think of this as a shift from Big Pharma to Focused Pharma. In some cases, it is easier for the large pharma clients to invest and buy research than it can be to do it themselves. Along similar lines, multiple healthcare giants are spinning out their consumer-focused health organizations. Notable examples include Kenvue and Haleon, which until recently were the respective consumer divisions of J&J and GSK.

The great news about all these spinoff companies is increased focus and job creation. The challenge, for their CHROs and other leaders, is that these jobs need to be filled! The newly created businesses must start from scratch in creating an employer brand, anchored on a distinctive corporate culture that attracts and retains top candidates. And once again, the high-level skills required are in demand in every industry and every region.

In fact, if there’s one point I find myself advising most often to clients and other business leaders, it’s this: recalibrate your sense of who the competition is. Whether you’re looking for your next AI genius or production worker, you’ll need to think outside the industry box. Those AI developers have attractive offers from the finance, automotive and aerospace sectors. And the production candidates? In their minds, manufacturing and packing your masks or drugs may be little different than making cardboard boxes, or picking and packing consumer electronic products or widgets. Their skills are in demand, and you need a compelling narrative if you are to land and retain them.

Indeed, you’ll need more than a narrative—in spite of layoffs of high-skill staff at tech firms, competition means prospective employees are looking for, and getting, very attractive compensation. One trend I see in Millennial and Gen Z workers is greater willingness to change employers for a bump in salary. Make no mistake: these professionals whose skills you need so badly will jump ship for a $5,000 raise. You need to know the landscape, have a compelling employer value proposition —and be prepared to compete.

Grow your own talent

During a recent trip to Japan, I was able to study that nation’s hiring and retention practices, many of which other regions would do well to explore. For example, Japanese businesses are truly committed to growing their own talent. Companies are constantly scouting universities for employees; the battle for students with sought-after skills is intense! Japanese businesses know that hiring workers straight out of university is an excellent way to instill the corporate culture in receptive minds.

That nation’s employers also genuinely believe in continuously upskilling and reskilling these employees. I can’t stress enough the wisdom of this approach; it helps CHROs address several of the big-picture trends from our World of Work industry outlook:

  • Upskilling/reskilling helps current employees fully leverage emerging technologies, a key factor for healthcare and life sciences firms committed to digital transformation.
  • As telemedicine continues to grow, upskilling/reskilling offers a growth path for the current workforce, and has the potential to reduce burnout and turnover.
  • With the global supply chain under pressure, scaled upskilling/reskilling is needed to ensure newer manufacturing workers are properly trained in Good Manufacturing Practice, safety and regulatory compliance.

Reading the room

As I’ve noted, many of the most sought-after employees for healthcare and life sciences companies are Millennials or Gen Zers. In addition to competitive pay, these workers have a unique set of values and priorities that CHROs, hiring managers, and organizations must cater to if they are to compete.

These generations have a well-documented set of values and priorities that are changing the very nature of corporate employment. In recent research, we found that today’s workers value flexibility, managers who are supportive coaches rather than taskmasters, and a team they like and trust. Work/life balance and mental wellness, not scaling the corporate ladder, are their watchwords.

These traits are true across geographies and genders, but it’s important to note that women represent 70% of the global healthcare workforce, so businesses must offer a differentiated Employer Value Proposition to attract and retain them.

Today’s workers also seek employers whose values align with their own. They want to feel they’re having a positive impact and working for an organization that they believe is a "force for good." This is a powerful tool for CHROs in the healthcare and life sciences industries—which, after all, are by definition contributing to a better world.

With this, one way to compete is to ensure that your corporate values align with prospective employees’ in the environmental, social and governance arena. ESG is of growing importance to the people you’re seeking to attract. At ManpowerGroup, we’re proud to be in tune with this shift in consumer values. It shows in our commitment to Net Zero, and we put our values into practice every day-such as during the planning of a recent international meeting with a key customer, when it was deemed wasteful to fly five representatives in for a single (important!) presentation; in the end, a pair of us flew while the rest of the team attended via Microsoft Teams. Women in the workforce is also a trait that we align with well in Healthcare and Life Sciences as we have committed to having 50% women in leadership by 2025.

I believe this is an example of the detail-oriented thinking that’s required of life sciences and healthcare leaders seeking to compete for a finite pool of talent.

The Healthcare and Life Sciences Industries are in constant shift, the ability to know the current trends- for both companies and those they seek to employee is critical to compete.

Amanda Stelle About the Author
Amanda Stelle
Vice President and General Manager of Healthcare and Life Sciences