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 to help custom design, deliver, and measure an advanced new employee on-boarding and measurement process. The process was well thought out and bought into by sales leadership. The combination of targeted sales tools, technology, coaching, performance plans, training and reinforcement made all the difference.  The pilot program in EMEA was a big success and the solution quantifiably improved new employee and hiring manager satisfaction and increased the speed to sales quota for new hires. We are continuing to work with LSA Global to scale the program in other GEOs and expand to cover more roles at VMware.  I would recommend LSA Global for any sales enablement team looking to increase the engagement and speed to productivity of their sales force. We are excited to implement the program globally across VMware as we continue to scale.

Rochana Golani
Director, Global Field Readiness

I consistently look to LSA Global when I need custom programs put together for my client groups. I can always count on LSA to do a thorough needs analysis and to put together spectacular programs that are well received. Their management development and performance management expertise and professionalism make them one of my top-rated learning and development partners.

Stephanie Webb
HR Program Manager

Rambus

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 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

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

I have worked with other training companies and found it to be more of a seller/buyer relationship than one of matching the right expertise to our business issues. That’s what LSA does – ask the hard questions, listen, and understand our business needs. We receive the benefit of their expertise from assistance with personal development plans to enhancing team performance, to looking at enterprise-wide challenges. It’s all about helping our business succeed as we grow. Right now, LSA is providing great ideas, a fresh approach, and valuable guidance as we develop our management team and accelerate our client relationship management results.

Kristin Westland-Kaune
Director, Team Development

Thank you for a great leadership development session today. The facilitator was brilliant, and we really enjoyed his style and personality. The sales team got a lot out of it (as did I). I believe it will help us create an even higher performance environment by ensuring we have a common understanding of our environmental structure and are all working towards the same goals.

Simon Jefferson
Managing Director

AKQA

The LSA Organizational Alignment Survey gave us a comprehensive and poignant view of how our employees experience our culture, talent and strategy.  LSA customized the questions so we received information that was targeted and very useful to us.  Equally important, the survey and implementation process goes well beyond the typical engagement survey.  The combination of questions and feedback approach provided us with a great forum to discuss the strengths and opportunities in our organization, and then to quickly get focused on the key actions critical to our strategy implementation and improving our business results.

Mark Forrest
General Manager, FSM Division

Trimble

This was an extremely effective executive strategy session that helped our executive team efficiently navigate through our core objectives. It was exactly what we needed, and the approach was practical and valuable for our specific business and market. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to push their strategic planning to the next level.

Blake Krikorian
CEO

The experiential New Employee Orientation was an incredible success for over 2500 new hires in four years across the globe. They partnered with us to create an innovative solution on very short notice, and added a huge amount of value that isn’t reflected in their cost. We could never have done it without their unmatched combination of expertise, professionalism, and creativity that aligned everything with our unique culture. Even our experienced hires were blown away!

Brenda Wagner
Founder and President

Proxicom

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

We have had a very beneficial partnership with LSA for over 2 years. The recent Leadership Development Program that they designed and customized with us to help us identify, develop, and retain top leaders in the organization was a huge success. It was instrumental in helping take our company and our key people to the next level. I would recommend their training and consulting services to anyone looking to develop and retain top talent.

Steve Janowsky
Vice President of Operations

Proxicom

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

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

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

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