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

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Their practical and outcome-oriented methodology is fantastic and allows us to deploy better solutions faster.

I highly recommend them to anyone looking to raise the talent bar with a true strategic partner.

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They immediately helped us to improve our ability to continue to hire top talent that fits our culture and talent management strategy as we rapidly scale.  Thank you!

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LSA asks the hard questions, listens, and understands both our business and talent needs.

We greatly benefit from their expertise ranging from assistance with personal development plans, to enhancing team performance, to enterprise-wide talent management challenges.

LSA provides great ideas, a fresh and practical approach, and valuable guidance on how to get the most from your talent.

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Throughout the process LSA was also very responsive in dealing with short lead time requests.  Thank you!

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As a fast growing company with a geographically dispersed workforce, LSA’s expertise was invaluable to us in driving consistency, creating a sense of belonging for our employees, and developing a common language for everyone.

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LSA Global has been a great partner in helping us move toward being “the leading developer of talent in the service performance management industry.”

I have engaged LSA to help develop best-in-class programs in the areas of: Executive On-boarding, Manager Training, Sales Training and Coaching, Employee Engagement, and Instructional Design.

They have consistently met or exceeded my (very) high expectations and are always responsive to my needs to increase performance, engagement, customer satisfaction, and sales growth.

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LSA’s action-learning leadership approach 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 key strategic projects forward.

The experience was better than anticipated.  I could not be more pleased.

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LSA partnered with us to create an innovative solution on very short notice and added a huge amount of value.

We could never have done it without their unmatched combination of expertise, professionalism, and creativity that aligned everything with our unique culture and growth strategy.

Even our executives and experienced hires were blown away!

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Having a training outsourcing partner like LSA to support our talent management needs has been a real blessing. In an emerging company where typically you can’t afford the infrastructure necessary to provide a full range of offerings, having an external partner like LSA has been a blessing.

They deeply understand our business and our culture.   They do a great job on a wide range of customized training, consulting, and coaching solutions for us.

For us, they are definitely better than having our own internal Training and Organizational Development function.  They always do what it takes to hit the mark.

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This investment more than proved its worth – not only did it improve our leadership development program redesign, but it also was like a mini executive seminar that stretched our experienced L&D team’s thinking.

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I love that LSA focuses on training that truly makes a meaningful impact on the people and the business.

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I’ve been getting tons of positive unsolicited feedback.

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LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner helping us to build leadership and management capacity while strategically investing in our people.

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