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

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

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

We hired LSA Global to design and deliver a customized outdoor experiential new employee orientation program for our recent group of MBA new hires. The program designed helped reinforce WIPRO core values. The program will help the new MBA hires to build relationships with fellow associates and enhance the group’s ability to operate successfully in the global world. I recommend LSA for effective on boarding/outward bound training of new MBA hires.

Vishu Venkat, PHR
Talent Acquisition

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

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 Global’s consultant brought a fresh perspective to our behavioral based interviewing strategy for two key executive positions we needed to fill, and their consultant helped us develop questions that produced a much deeper understanding of candidates’ capabilities. I am confident that the two new executives joining our organization have the right skills to add significant value. Throughout the process LSA was also very responsive in dealing with short lead time requests.

Because of the unique nature of our business, Excel is a core application in our accounting organization. After three attempts to find an Excel consultant who is capable of helping our finance team integrate advanced applications into our work processes we found LSA and Alex. He was not only a “Real” Excel expert but was masterful in helping us identify where to use Excel applications in our processes to increase our group’s efficiency.

SPO Partners & Co
Kim Silva, CFO

LSA has a very unique and powerful methodology regarding learning and learning strategy. LSA’s ability to overcome skepticism, obtain executive support, and create an aligned learning strategy that provides measurable business impact is second to none. They partner with you to understand your goals, flex to your needs, and solve your problems – all within your budget. They certainly help make my job easier and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend LSA to anyone trying to connect the dots between strategy, skills, knowledge, and results.

Noelle Van Vlierbergen
Human Resources Director

AKQA

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

LSA seamlessly integrated those components without our folks feeling like the intervention was forced. They understood what we were trying to accomplish, helped us clarify our objectives, and created a solid, refreshing approach that quickly got us moving and engage at all levels across the organization.Overall, I couldn’t be happier that we found a true strategy and implementation partner in LSA.

Doug Hansen
President and Director

Redwood Trust

The customized new hire on-boarding process, coaching, tools, and measurement have provided a very useful structure and frame for the first 90-days for both me and our new hires. It has been a very positive experience from my perspective and will make it much easier to on-board my new hires.

Martyn Storey
Systems Engineer Manager

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.

Nick Voyvodich, SPHR
HR Manager

Fujitsu

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 our expectations. They really understood our business and delivered within tight time frames.  They were the best I have seen for this type of complex, visible and strategic work. 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 strategy and strategic execution to the next level.

Rob Sturgeon
EVP Client Delivery

Service Source

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

“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

Hyperion

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