Addressing the Talent Crisis

Sharing Learnings to Address the Talent Crisis

Thank you to Carly Brunsden, Associate Director of Talent at SEC for sharing ideas and approaches to dealing with the talent crisis.

Talent Shortages Are Not Exclusive to Clinical Research

Talent shortages are not exclusive to the clinical research industry. Having spent some time with Jacqueline and the team at the IAOCR, talking about the discussion points for the Industry Leaders Think Tank in September, it became clear that many of the challenges faced in the clinical research industry are similar to those we face around attracting and retaining talent in the recruitment industry. So when Jacqueline asked us to share some of our own experiences and what we’re doing as a business to attract and retain talent it felt natural to be able to share our own learnings over the last two to three years.

Why Did You Agree To Speak at the Industry Leaders Think Tank?

SEC works closely with IAOCR because we’re passionate about demonstrating the highest level of professionalism and standards in the life sciences world. When we had the opportunity to participate in this year’s Industry Leaders Think Tank it was something we jumped at!

Attracting Staff in a Candidate-Driven Market

Both recruitment and clinical research markets are very candidate-driven – the candidates are in control of their destiny.  It may sound simple, but from an attraction point of view respect, feedback, honesty, and transparency make a big difference – the complete candidate experience is essential.

Regardless of how many interviews you have, telephone conversations or who you speak to, the experience should be one that leaves a lasting positive impression on each candidate. We need all candidates to know that SEC is a company that does things the right way.

Recently we had a situation where we rejected a candidate, but she was handled very professionally and because she had such a positive experience she sent us a cake with our logo on!

Recruit for Attitude – Train for Skill

In industries where the focus in on experience rather than the level of competency someone has attained it can often be a challenge to find the right people. This is also a challenge for me from a personal perspective because I have never seen any empirical data that suggests that experience on a CV equates to revenue generated from a recruitment businesses perspective.

One of the challenges SEC has faced over the years is breaking down the perception that experience is one of the primary drivers to hire on. For us, finding people with the right attributes who exhibit the right attitudes and behaviors is essential – we can upskill their knowledge from a life sciences perspective once they are on board.

Have a Robust Onboarding Process

It’s essential that the good experience doesn’t stop after a candidate has joined. Onboarding is important too – it’s essential that the person continues to get that superior experience. Again, it can be the simple things: The induction about who people are, what facilities are available at the company, where can you get coffee, when are the fire alarms, what sort of social activities go on amongst the teams, all of this is important.

Thereafter it’s about getting the learning and development right. We have a blended learning approach, with a four-week academy program which combines study on the principles of recruitment, being on the ‘shop floor’, as well as getting to know the team.

Continue to Invest to Get The Best Out of People

Learning and development is an essential component in getting the best out of people who are less experienced. From SEC’s perspective that is where we have placed a lot of emphasis – having a structured and well managed training program for people who have the right attributes and traits that fit to our business is essential in getting the most of our investment.

Conduct Empowering “Health Checks”

We have also implemented employee health checks, which provide opportunities to discuss development after the individual has left the academy and joined their respective team. These typically happen at least once in the first six months of employment. The purpose of these is for the experience to be empowering. They provide an opportunity to talk to somebody that listens to any concerns they may have and highlight elements that they think they might need support with, then provide a facilitative approach to their own learning within the business.

Performance Management & Progression

We have introduced a performance management process which aims to provide accurate feedback so that people know what is expected of them and how they’re going to progress. Coupled with that, we’ve implemented a clear progression process, so our people know what they need to do to make the next step.

In addition, this year we have introduced personal development plans and succession planning. This gives people the confidence that they have an opportunity for growth, but it also gives the business the confidence that we can mitigate any potential loss of talent to external factors.

What are the Business Metrics?

What we’ve seen as a business through the implementation of some of these very simple programs, is our highest headcount since 2011 and lowest staff turnover since 2012. Our consultant productivity, on average, has increased as well as having a year-on-year overall staff satisfaction increasing to 87% using the internal benchmarking criteria we have on our survey.

What’s Next?

We know it’s important to never rest on our laurels. For us, our Talent Team is continuously working on new initiatives that will enhance the experience of working at SEC, including changes to our training as well our attraction techniques.

We found the Think Tank a fantastic opportunity to share ideas with other organizations. The candidate experience is important to all businesses and we also discussed thoughts on other techniques such as blind interviewing, one-to-one coaching, etc. Every business does things differently, so it’s good to have an opportunity to benchmark and work collaboratively on ideas around people attraction and development.

I’d definitely recommend the Think Tank to industry leaders interesting in sharing challenges and ideas in a collaborative and positive setting.

About SEC

SEC is one of Europe’s leading providers of recruitment and talent acquisition services in the Life Sciences / Pharma and IT sectors. We cover permanent as well as contract / freelance positions, in addition we also offer Payroll Process Outsource services to a number of our clients.

Established in 1987, we have developed a unique team of over 65 highly skilled, multi-lingual consultants, who collectively speak 21 languages.  We provide successful and innovative recruitment solutions to clients ranging from start-ups to FTSE 100 companies throughout Europe.  Click here to visit our website.

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