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

The LSA customized Organizational Alignment Survey gave us a comprehensive view of how our employees experience our culture, talent and strategy.  Equally important, the survey and implementation process goes well beyond the typical engagement survey.  The systemic 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 executing our business and people strategies.

Mark Forrest
General Manager, FSM Division

Trimble

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

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

As a Training Outsourcing Partner, LSA consistently saves me time and money by designing the right solutions and quickly bringing us the best experts to solve key business problems in a way that works for our unique culture. Their methodology and resources are fantastic and allow us to deploy better solutions faster. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to raise the talent bar with a true strategic partner.

Tim Bonnet
Director of Training and Organizational Development

Dimension Data

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

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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

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

I just wanted to let you know how pleased I am with how the new employee on-boarding project went. The end product is wonderful! LSA has been great to work with. I really appreciate all the flexibility and the high quality.

Laurie Torres
Vice President of Human Resources

PDL

What a personal and professional pleasure it has been to Partner with LSA. They are truly a strategic partner with Wyse. For more than 5 years, LSA has been engaged in delivering various training and development solutions for Wyse, from custom on-site programs targeting specific core competencies, to working individually with clients to build job skills, and offering invaluable services to me and my team as we continue to build our learning programs. LSA’s representatives do more than sell a product, they offer a full service solution: they understand our business, our strategic initiatives, and the needs of our customers.

Jeff Rangel
Director of HR

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources

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LSA demonstrated the criticality for executives to look beyond current ethics topics and focus on applying fundamental values in everything they do to demonstrate true leadership. They successfully delivered in two hours what most leadership development presenters would spend an entire day trying to communicate.

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HR Manager

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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.

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The action-learning leadership project has been very beneficial to me, our leadership team, and the entire organization. The balance of development and results has been excellent. We have made huge progress, and I was also able to identify 2-3 high potentials while having the extra benefit of people stepping up to carry strategic projects forward. The Staff is very appreciative and has become very comfortable with both the program and the process. It is still going better than anticipated, and I have been very pleased.

Heather Feltman
President & CEO

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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.

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