HR and Life Sciences – How to combine fine recruiting with industry expertise

One major challenge when it comes to mastering HR in Life Sciences that we come across very often when handling a search is the necessary combination of industry expertise and management and leadership knowledge. Often these two rather different skill-sets are hard to find in one person. So either the HR department has problems with evaluating the industry expertise or the people with the industry expertise don’t know how to access and develop talent.

The Frankfurt School of Finance & Management invited to a conference on February 18th to discuss various topics within HR Management in the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry, making it the biggest HR event in Germany focusing on Pharma, Biotech, Medtec and diagnostics. And there were a lot of interesting points discussed that circle around the very discrepancy described above.

Changes in HR in Life Sciences

The world has become much more dynamically organized and definitely changed the leadership culture as it is which especially affects the Life Sciences industry. Talent Management has become a business partner and the Life Sciences industry has to embrace this change still much more than they have done so far. Furthermore HR needs to enhance their understanding of the people (covering vast topics like soft/people skills, leadership, team development), as well as the environment (which includes good knowledge of the industry and the “customer”) and the business metrics (budgets, KPIs) they have to deal with. Employee focus is on the rise, hierarchies are dwindling.

Interestingly the key advantage to mastering this challenge lies within the company. HR don’t only need more budget, they need a new image. If they want to keep up with the change they need to combine more skills and sell this change to the management. Studies have shown, that especially in the Life Sciences industry the HR lacks connection to many important business parts (more), costing them valuable recruiting results.

Foster talent within

But HR is not only in charge of finding new talent, they also have to take very good care of the talent they already have. Since Life Sciences often require such an advanced skillset in their talent, it’s especially important to keep talent in whose skill development the company has already invested. Often various sorts of education, trainee and mentoring programs help Life Science companies to fill positions from within where the necessary expertise is already known. Or even functioning as an incubator for Life Sciences start-ups or investing in initiatives and networks and thereby accessing talent on a much broader scale. These kind of investments and engagements also work in favor of employer branding and innovation which always works in advantage of HR in Life Sciences.

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