Using Employee Engagement to Drive Retention: Biotechnology

Engaging and retaining top talent during times of change at a Biotech Company

Client Case Study

Situation

This Biotech Company is an industry leader in the field of antibody discovery and development. Over the past 30 years the company has built strong intellectual property, technology platforms, and capabilities to engineer cutting-edge therapeutic antibodies that have the potential to transform medicine and reshape people’s lives.

To capitalize on a significant market opportunity that would have a major impact on the company’s future, the company launched a strategic initiative to develop its Leaders, Managers, and Management Systems. Shortly thereafter, the poor economic conditions affected the company, requiring a workforce reduction and increased workloads for the remaining employees.

The leaders wanted to quantitatively assess the level and breadth of commitment and engagement in the organization. Specific objectives included:

  1. Measure the level of engagement and commitment employees have to the company and strategy.
  2. Assess the effectiveness of investments in key Human Resource initiatives.
  3. Determine how effectively the company is managing areas that are most important to employees.
  4. Identify specific areas where leaders can take informed action to increase employee engagement.
  5. Benchmark employee engagement to assess the effectiveness of future Human Resource initiatives.

Complications

The biotech company recognized the importance of maintaining a strong, focused team during this critical time. They were especially concerned about:

  • Increasing employees’ level of alignment and commitment to the company’s vision and mission-critical strategies
  • Losing key talent
  • Improving the effectiveness of the current leadership practices and management systems vis-à-vis an environment that fosters commitment
  • Understanding key actions that leaders could take to maximize commitment and minimize risk

Approach

We used a best practices employee engagement survey that was initially developed in a landmark study to identify the key relationship between management practices and employee retention. Based upon ongoing engagement research, the employee engagement survey tool has continued to evolve and improve over the last 10 years.

Additional aspects of the approach included:

  1. Customizing the Employee Engagement Survey to provide feedback specific to the company’s culture, strategic objectives, business practices, and organizational systems
  2. Piloting the Employee Engagement Survey with a Test Group to ensure cultural fit and technical functionality
  3. Marketing the Employee Engagement Survey to the organization to encourage participation
  4. Assisting the company to analyze the results and identify key next steps
  5. Providing online and just-in-time reporting capabilities so the company can provide specific Engagement Feedback to its managers when needed
  6. Initiating action around “quick hit” items

Results

The feedback from the engagement survey confirmed that the organization is well aligned to achieve its key strategic objectives and that people are highly committed to the success of the organization. It also highlighted issues that could undermine the company’s pursuit of its objectives – especially if there was a shift in the economic conditions.

Key Drivers of Success:

  1. High survey response rate signifies a high trust environment where employees’ voices are heard
  2. Commitment to the company’s success was the most important survey item for 93% of employees
  3. 85% of employees were clear on how their specific goals contributed to the company’s success
  4. 82% of employees were engaged in “challenging and interesting” work
  5. Data also signified that the workforce is:
    • Charged up about the opportunities that lie head
    • Strongly bonded with their manager, team, and coworkers
    • Satisfied that they have learned and grown during their tenure at the company

Engagement Opportunities:

While the results of the survey showed a solid foundation for achieving company strategic objectives, there were areas that could impact engagement and retention if not addressed:

  1. Career paths, opportunities to progress, and support are not clearly visible to employees
  2. Visibility to career opportunities at the company is low
  3. Requirements for advancement in the company are unclear
  4. Employees do not feel that their managers know how they would like to be personally rewarded
  5. A lack of understanding of the business strategy impacts employee confidence in the company’s future
  6. There is a segment of employees who feel challenged to manage their workload

Taking Action:

The company wanted to show their commitment to employees with an immediate response to the key problem areas followed by more systemic approaches.

Quick Response:

  1. A career self-management class is being rolled out to enable employees to take greater responsibility for their career development and management within the existing system
  2. A workshop on managing pressure and workload is being rolled out for employees who are experiencing high workloads and levels of stress in their work

Systemic Response:

The leadership is in the process of developing more systematic approaches that provide greater focus on career management, communications, and personal rewards.

Human Capital Index

This is the first year that the company has a done an employee engagement survey. It achieved engagement scores that are extraordinarily high compared to a decade of LSA benchmark scores.

The survey results can be clearly attributed to the company’s significant investment in developing its managers, leaders, and individual contributors over the last 10 years.

The survey also highlighted areas where the company has under-invested. Moving forward, the company now has visibility to manage its human capital investments with greater precision and with the ability to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

Related Information

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people. LSA designed a modular and customized management curriculum that allows us to deliver top quality solutions to our managers and leaders. We consider LSA to be our learning and development partner and our LSA consultants to be an extension of our team.

Lisa Bruun
SVP Human Resources

Ellie Mae

A key to performance improvement is strongly linked to cultivating the proper type of motivation. Since the performance management training, I have been much more focused on identifying and discussing how our actions in Engineering create value to IGT’s success. So far, the feedback has been positive. The group appears to be more accountable for their actions, and victim loop reactions are less frequent. The value proposition for me and those groups we work with is better teamwork, higher spirits, and a better outlook for things to come in the future (renewed enthusiasm).

Stewart Thoeni
Mechanical, HW Engineering Director

LSA Global has provided our Employee Engagement Survey for the past 3 years. Their ability to administer the survey, help us sort through complex organizational changes that impact reporting, and provide flexible, customized report formats gives a high level of comfort and confidence in the work. The survey results have helped us identify and take actions to address the concerns of our Gen Y workforce. In all, LSA provides us with great value, and I would highly recommend them.

Mike Normant
Senior Director, Training & Development

Service Source

We recently hired LSA to help us take our client delivery methodology to the next level as we continue to grow and help our clients succeed. The custom strategy and design session exceeded my expectations. They really understood our business and turned around the project within a tight timeframe. LSA’s consultants were the best I have seen for this type of project. LSA’s ability to get a group of 20+ executives from around the globe on the same page, push their thinking to new heights, and ensure an executable plan was excellent. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to take their plans and execution to the next level.

Rob Sturgeon
EVP Client Delivery

Service Source

LSA’s Employee Engagement Consulting and Survey work has provided critical visibility into: how well our people are holding up under the general economic environment, as well as, the specific challenges that face biotechnology companies in their efforts to discover and develop new medicines; their level of alignment and commitment to XOMA’s Vision and mission critical strategies; how leadership practices and management systems support an environment that engender commitment, and the specific actions that our leaders can take to improve on areas that are important to our people. I highly recommend LSA’s employee engagement solutions.

Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

LSA Global has been a great partner in helping ServiceSource move toward its Vision of being “the leading developer of talent in the service performance management industry.” I have engaged LSA’s services to help develop best-in-class programs in the areas of: Executive On-boarding, Manager Training, Sales Training, Employee Engagement and Instructional Design. They have consistently met or exceeded my (very) high expectations and are always responsive to my needs.

Mike Normant
Senior Director, Training & Development

Service Source

I contacted LSA to help us with leadership development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would match our needs as well as our personality. The solution was such a huge success. It received rave reviews. I would highly recommend LSA to other companies.

Karen King, SPHR
Manager, Human Resources

Alliance Data

LSA brought a very effective training design, and implementation approach to help us create a common language around our corporate training. As a fast growing company with a geographically dispersed workforce, their expertise in this area was invaluable to us in driving consistency, creating a sense of belonging for our employees, and developing a common language for all of us to use.

Binod Taterway
CEO

Blue Canopy

Redwood Trust looked to LSA Global as a consulting partner to help us explore innovative and scholarly approaches to promote employee engagement and sustain the unique culture we’ve built over the last decade.

LSA helped us perpetuate coaching as a discipline across the organization by integrating our core values, goal setting and performance measurement metrics under an interactive coaching program.

We appreciate LSA’s commitment to cutting-edge practices and keeping us in step with the progressive front of our rapidly changing workplace environment.

Rosalyn Chan
Vice President, Human Resources

Redwood Trust

We consistently receive positive feedback about the quality of the LSA Leadership Training Programs and LSA facilitators. We recognize and appreciate the hard work LSA always goes through to align to our unique culture and meet our specific requirements. Thank you for regularly going above and beyond to design solutions to meet our needs. Your support and dedication, both on the strategic and tactical side, have been outstanding!

Anna Meyer
Leadership Development

Intuit

I’m not sure if I’ve run across a company that can match the depth and quality of LSA’s consultants and facilitators. I highly recommend LSA to anyone seeking a strategic training outsourcing and consulting partner to improve performance.

Jeff Coon
VP Human Resources

Exelixis

It was a challenge to find a consultant with an approach to performance improvement that fit our unique culture and style. When we met with LSA we were surprised to discover their depth of expertise in the fields of motivation, developmental coaching and performance management and measurement.

Specifically, we were pleasantly surprised to find a company that could seamlessly integrate those three components without our folks feeling like the intervention was forced. They understood what we were trying to accomplish, helped us clarify our objectives, create a solid, refreshing approach that quickly got us moving and engaged people at all levels.

As they began to implement, I was thoroughly impressed with how they listened and made adaptations focused on our needs and business objectives. Overall, I couldn’t be happier that we found a partner in LSA.

Doug Hansen
President and Director

Redwood Trust

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed working with LSA on the design and delivery of the experiential new employee on-boarding training. I’ve been getting tons of positive unsolicited feedback. You truly exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Steven Gray
US Enterprise Services

LSA’s approach and ability to bring the best resources to eBay has been a great asset. They really focus on helping us succeed in any way they can and are very flexible in meeting our management and talent needs.

Mike Normant
Learning & Development

ebay

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