Webinar recording: Recruiting and retention in a post pandemic world

Webinar with Emma Adams

The world has changed, and it will not turn back to what is used to be before the pandemic. This comes on top of other trends, like the increased use of data across all aspects of data. The hunger for talent in the data science space has dramatically increased, and it is not only coming from the Apples, Googles, and Amazons.

Other trends are the increase in prices, the shifts in motivations of employees, and the debate about what really makes people join and stay at companies.

Listen to this webinar while Emma and I talk about exploring the resulting recruitment challenges in a post-pandemic world within Life Sciences as a sector, also specifically within statistics across the UK and Europe. We confront recruitment challenges, as well as taking a thorough analysis into what Statisticians want—how to hire and how to keep top talent.

Emma Adams

Emma is a Biometrics headhunter with 8 years of experience placing industry-leading professionals into pharmaceutical, biotech, biopharma, medical device, CRO and consultancy organizations. Currently working at Michael Page Life Sciences, a leading partner globally, helping to give candidates better access to global brands in the pharma industry. Emma recruits a broad range of skill sets; Statisticians, Programmers, Data Scientists, Bioinformaticians and Data Analytics professionals across the globe, having placed more than 150 experts successfully into new roles throughout her career.  

Michael Page Life Sciences is a leading partner to the pharmaceutical industry, collaborating with a broad range of organizations as preferred suppliers, helping to give candidates better access to global brands in the industry. With a team of 223 life science consultants across the globe, we are well networked and able to leverage global talent to help make hiring possible with soaring demand for talent.  We offer a consultative recruitment solution in a skills’ shortage market to make recruitment plans achievable within set timelines. Michael Page make industry-leading talent accessible to help reduce risk with business planning.



Alexander: You are listening to the effective statistician podcast, a weekly podcast with Alexander Schacht and Benjamin Piske, designed to help you reach your potential, lead great sciences and serve patients without becoming overwhelmed by work. Today, we are talking about recruiting and retention in the post pandemic world. This is a recording in February. So stay tuned for a really good discussion. 


I’m producing this podcast in association with PSI, a community dedicated to leading and promoting the use of statistics within the healthcare industry for the benefit of patients. Join PSI today to further develop your statistical capabilities, with access to the ever-growing video on demand content library, free registration to all PSI webinars and much, much more. Head over to psiweb.org to learn more about PSI activities and become a PSI member today. 


Let me first introduce myself a little bit. I’m Alexander Schacht. I’m leading a department with an environment that is focused on providing services all around, launch and commercialization. So everything that you need from a stats side on launch and commercialization would be network meta-analysis, additional publications, but also strategic consultancy. So things like, what kind of evidence will I need? What is the best way to position our product? How can we best engage with decision-makers and key opinion leaders? All of these things you can come to me for. The other point is, I’m also running a quite successful podcast that is going on for over 200 episodes about four years now. And we have well beyond 100,000 downloads. So that’s quite a nice success. And you can check out the podcast on The Effective Statistician, just by searching for any platform for the effective statistician. And finally through that, I also provide training in terms of leadership. That’s one of the things that I really love, helping others to improve in terms of the influencing skills, not so much about administrative leadership but about how you can lead a cross-functional team for example and how you can influence others. And that actually helped me quite a lot with our content today. So we’ll come back to that in a minute and with that, I hand it over to Emma, who is doing a webinar today together with me to let her introduce herself. 


Emma: Hi everyone. So I’m Emma Adams and I work for Michael Page Life Sciences. I’ve got eight years of life sciences recruitment experience but is very heavily focused on the biometrics and data side. So I had a conversation with Alexander. And both of us felt this topic was really relevant. Lots of change particularly within recruitment, particularly post pandemic. So we wanted to get together. Have a look at the data. I know you guys like data. So, we’ll be able to present these results today. 


Alexander: Yeah, and we’ll make it a little bit in an informal way. So Emma and myself will chat about these different things while we present and if you have any questions and then you know, just write it into the chat and we can directly respond to it. Okay. For my presentation, I actually don’t have any slides today because I want to just give you a couple of ideas of how to actually be successful in this post-pandemic world. Oh, during the pandemic, that is still ongoing. And why am I actually a good person to talk about this? Well, because in a sense, not so much has changed during the pandemic, because when I got my first direct reports, they were located in Paris, Madrid, Vienna, and in the office in Germany, where I was also settling. So in four different countries, well, of course, you can’t kind of travel around Europe every week. So I was virtually working with them all the time. So what does it mean to actually, you know, have such a virtual team and lead it successfully. Well, there’s actually only one important factor that is important and that is trust. You need to build trust with your team. Now, trust this in a really, really interesting thing. It’s a concept that a lot of people talk about. And lots of people don’t really understand, how do you build trust? And at the time? I really didn’t know, and I found out only later what are really the key components in it, but naturally, I think a couple of things actually did quite well. So the first thing that comes to mind when you want to build trust is that you care. That you take care of the other people and that the other people see that you care about them. And that was for me quite natural because I’m a pretty people-oriented supervisor. I always thought about what is best for the people. What do they need? And always started with it. So for example in a discussion about setting performance objectives. I would start with, what are your goals? How do you want to develop this year? What do you want to become this year? And then start from there and talk about what kind of project to work on and things like that. And that helped to build a much better connection. For example, was one of my direct reports, who was at the time, kind of on a lower end in terms of the performance. I listened really, really much more in terms of, what are his interests? What are his strengths? And then place them accordingly. And with that, turns the motivation completely around, he flourished, he was much more excited. He said, Well you call it work, I call it fun, he was saying. And so that helped a lot with engagement and then you have a situation where people really want to move forward. Yeah, because they are working on some things that are interesting for them. In a way that is interesting for them. And that makes so much of a difference. Yeah, you don’t need to monitor a lot of things. You just see that things are progressing because they have fun and they know the direction. Now, a couple of years later, this person actually, instead of leaving the company got promoted. So that’s a story in terms of how you can care for people and how that builds trust. The next building block in building trust is character. So that’s the second C. So to say, first care and character. Character is, you know, something that we always talk about. It’s something that everybody, you know, thinks, Oh I have a character, I have a good character. It’s not so much about what you think of yourself, but what the other person sees in terms of you, what do they see in your character? And one of the things is, you need to back them up. For example, there was one really, really tricky situation. One of my direct reports came to me and said, I think there’s something wrong with the study and as it’s quite a political thing and he said, I am really scared to talk about it, and can you help me? And so, I kind of had the much tougher discussions with Senior Management to speak about this mistake and to bring it up and I backed him up in terms of what kind of help he needed. What kind of support he needed. And through that, I could help to build a trusting relationship with this person because I supported him. I, you know, had a strong back when he needed it and that is a second aspect that you need to have in building trust, care and character. Now, the third thing in building trust is competence, another C. Even if you care,  if you have a lot of character but you actually don’t know what you’re speaking about that doesn’t build trust. Because people will learn very fast that well you care and you’re a really good guy, but actually you don’t know what you’re talking about. And that is the third component that you need to have invested. And I’ll of course, again, it’s not so much about what you think your competence is, but what the other side thinks about your competence? And that is a really interesting thing, because it starts with, what others talk about you, what others talk about your competence. So it starts very often with well, maybe you work for someone first hand and maybe they have a friend that has worked for you soon. And then what this friend talks about you, about your knowledge, will help to set up this trust. But also, what’s your track record? What are your maybe, what’s even without a title that can help you with this competency thing? Over time, you need to show that you understand the problems of the different person, that you understand at least well enough where they are and where they struggle so that you can have meaningful discussions with people. So that is third C, after care and character, is competency. So you need to build these three C’s in order to build trust with your direct report. Now, that’s a situation where you actually have direct reports. So it’s about the retention part more at least the early onboarding part. But how about actually attracting people? Now, I think the base where you just put a kind of job at words out there and you know, you see CVs that are all high quality are flooding in is probably past, especially in the stats and programming area. So how do you get people to apply to you? Or at least if a recruiter you work with calls him and says, I want to work, you know, I have a position, you could work with Alexander. What attracts them? Well, the first thing is, they know the person already. If they don’t know you well, you already have, in a sense, lost because then you’re just another supervisor, just another statistician. And you don’t differentiate. So first, get to know and you can do this by giving more presentations. I, of course, have a podcast but all kinds of different other means. For example, being more active on LinkedIn, building a network there. The second thing that you need to step over is that  they  like you. So, know you and like you. So if they have seen you at a conference and you were not such a nice guy. You were the guy that I know I don’t want to, you know, talk to this person. Hmm. Red flags there. So make sure that you’re likable. Yeah, It doesn’t mean that you need to have the funniest guy in the world, but at least someone that people can relate to, you know, be likable. And once you have the know, the like factors then you can start with the trust factor and that’s again, you can build it through care competence and character and that you can do, you know, in the same way as when they are in the company, you can do that similar also when they’re not yet in your company. So by providing content that is engaging,by providing help to them, by connecting to them in an authentic way. So if you’re on LinkedIn and try to connect with people, don’t just kind of randomly send connection requests but see kind of, do they kind of fit you? Is it something that you have in terms of common interest and connect also, with the things that others are posting, so comment and share and like things from other people. Most of the people on LinkedIn unfortunately are just kind of silent listeners, be part of the active community that will help you to build these connections in a much more meaningful way. So in summary, build trust by showing that you care for the different people, that you have a character that the other person can rely on, that you’re predictable, that you’re reliable. And lastly, show that you’re competent. Make sure the people understand your background and understand your knowledge. And if you work on these three things you can build trust. And in terms of getting to know people, well built on your know, like and trust factor on these different things so that you can attract new people in this virtual world. And of course, it will always be about virtual things. Once we go back to conferences, of course, attend these as well but having a strong presence virtually is really important. With that I hand over to Emma who will actually give us some more data on all these different topics. I’m really, really happy that we have her. 


Emma: Thank you for the introduction. I’ll just share my screen now. Lovely. As Alexander mentioned, and I’m basically going to have a look at the data that has been collated. So I would like to discuss some of the things that our candidate survey has shown. Also recruitment challenges, how to make the hire first time, the rise in data analysis, what the candidates actually want and then information sources will be able for you to have a look at as well. So in 2021, we were asked for a lot of insight on almost a daily basis. The way that work was being done, totally changed. There were virtual trials, and lots of all of us had to adapt to boarding junior staff working from home, lots of changes. So we were really regularly asked, will hybrid working become the norm? Our candidates are still willing to travel, what role will the office play going forward and what skills are the most in demand post pandemic. So, we wanted to basically put something together, start actually having some answers for you guys. The way we did that, we approached over 3,000 profiles who were then able to kind of fill in the survey for us. On top of that as well, we added 500 business leaders to that to give their kind of client perspective too. So what we found? So obviously, Covid has fundamentally changed things. That’s a given right, but for example in the UK market in 2021, 11.4 million profiles were actually furloughed. That means that you’ve also got a new boost in candidates trying to upskill themselves, change industry and move around. 36% of the population worked full time from home and you’ll see actually, as we go through this presentation, I was quite surprised to see as a result of the pandemic, how many candidates are now asking to see if they could come into the office to help build culture. It’s quite surprised by that. Somebody trying to convince biometrics candidates into the office for most of my career. Also as well, what we found is that workers wanted to be in roughly for about two and a half days a week. Employers actually wanted people to be there three days per week. So obviously there’s a bit of a disconnect between that. And 51% said they were actually really comfortable commuting and working in the office. With only 2.5% saying they weren’t. So it’s showing, obviously there’s confidence in the vaccines. It’s been rolling out and there is confidence to be able to kind of start getting back into the world again. What became really clear is that hybrid working is here to stay. And, for the first time in my career, global pharmaceutical organizations have to match the CROs consultancy flexibility. As Alexander already said, a lot of the hires that are being made are in totally different countries. Only one of my successful placements in 2021 actually had the line manager and the candidate in the same country, only one for that whole year. 


Alexander: I can completely see that. I think having this combination in terms of working from home, but also seeing colleagues in the office is a very, very nice setup because it brings together lots of, you know, the positives of both worlds.


Emma: Exactly. In particular, for more junior profiles. It must be so daunting in particular. If you’re a graduate and coming into this kind of working environment and working from home, onboarding, training, you haven’t got somebody sitting next to you that you can just say, how do I do this? Just little simple things. So, it’s good to see that people are kind of more open I guess to go into the office. It did highlight that it was quite unclear, employer expectations. So I didn’t put a question there to ask whether candidates are actually asking their bosses, what the expectation was just to be really clear? But as you can see there’s quite a few discrepancies. So on the left hand side, you can see the number of days and then what workers wanted versus what their employers actually expected and then the difference between the two. So there’s quite a lot of difference there. The only place where there is a difference is where they were both decided and agreed upon working full time from home. To be honest if we really kind of looked at data from prior years, it could simply be that those 18% that we asked are for always home-based workers. So if we have a look 22% not been told, how many days are expected to be in the office? Don’t know whether they actually asked, though. 70% said that having the vaccine would make me feel more comfortable going into the office. Over 30% of employers would still like employees to work full time in the office. But that was actually really surprising to me. 19% of employees were actually happy to do that, which was even more surprising. And I have a look into levels, a little bit further run and workers wanting to work full time from home are actually aligned with employers offering full flexibility. 


Alexander: I think this is quite an interesting statistic. If you can see that, third of all the employers want, you know, them to be full time in the office and that is even a consideration when, you know, 22% have not even communicated about this. So if you can think that, you know, a good proportion of these also expect people to be in the office, that’s quite a lot. Whereas, 80% of the people, one not work full time in the office. So, I think every employer, every supervisor, expects people to be in the office all the time, which means that the candidate pool that they have is drastically different. Then, you know, those that are much more open to hybrid working.


Emma: Exactly. This is the conversation that I have on a daily basis with clients. So it’s good to have this data to actually back up what we’re saying. So next, we’re moving into flexible working preferences that vary significantly, across skill sets and levels. So on average, managers actually wanted to work from home three days a week while their staff wanted to work from home, two days per week. So as you can see, junior staff members are wanting to go into the office a little bit more. 18% of employees with one to three years experience won’t work from home, five days per week compared with 14% who worked for 10 years. So there’s quite a difference between junior hires and then more experienced hires. Also workers aren’t actually relocating from city centers just yet and I don’t know about across Europe or the US for example, but in the UK there was so much concern around the housing market and everyone all of a sudden wanting to get out of Central London or get out of the big cities and kind of move to the countryside. Actually, when we were asking profiles about the Pharma industry that just wasn’t the case. But a whopping 77% of the workers said they actually haven’t considered moving at all during the pandemic. And 41% of workers are not willing to travel for more than one hour. So this is kind of a known thing anyway in biometrics specifically usually what you tend to have is very minimal travel but more of an as when approach may be kind of once a month, once every two months, but with profiles wanting to come into the office has more it’s quite useful analysis to see actually, realistically, what they would be willing to do. 


Alexander: There’s a question from Erica, in terms of the background of the supervisors that were asked. Can you give a little bit about what type of industry and what type of companies they were coming from?


Emma: Sure. So the way that we pulled this data is from our database. So what we’ve done is specifically targeted the pharmaceutical industry. So only people within organizations relevant. So Pharma companies, medical device companies, CROs, consultancies, biotechs, biopharmas. What we haven’t done yet, which I might be able to do on request at the end of this, is to actually pull out the actual job titles of those decision makers because what we the 3000 or the 500 business leaders that we actually asked, for example, one of them could be within finance, one of them could be within IT, but within the relevant organizations. 


Alexander: Okay.


Emma: The reason we did that is mainly because they tend to have blanket rules, particularly in large Pharma that are quite rigid. So, we wanted to, I guess, expose that, and how that affects things, because as we all know, on this call biometrics tends to operate fully outside of the usual, kind of processes that are put in place, whether it’s recruitment or kind of flexible working. So that’s why we did it that way. 


Alexander: Yep, very good, and I guess, in terms of samples, it includes pretty much every size of the companies and things like that. 


Emma: Yes, exactly. It’s really key for us to be able to capture the most flexible and the least flexible because there’s such a significant discrepancy, but will kind of come on a little bit later. So what also became really clear was the type of skills needed to thrive in the modern workplace. Really surprisingly softer skills are really in demand. What we’re seeing is line managers being significantly more flexible in terms of technical ability. And as you said, Alexander, and more focused on making sure there’s good core principles there that you can kind of develop and work on. So, in the survey, the most sought out soft skills, actually communication. 60% of leaders said soft skills have been more important than traditional hard skills. Obviously this is a pinch of salt when it comes to biometrics, you need technical ability right, but it’s just in terms of priorities. So 7 to 10 decision makers said, remote working changes the skill sets required from employees. 56% of leaders say that the pandemic has highlighted the skill shortages in their team. That was absolutely massive. I was really surprised at that. 73% of companies have been offering training to develop new skills. So really investing in the current staff that they have.


Alexander: I think communication is a really, really important thing. It’s as if you’re working in your home office, you need to be much more conscious and intentional about your communication. You can’t just rely on the water cooler discussions. You need to proactively reach out to people and also choose the right communication channel. I know that lots of introverts really, just kind of browse and send an email then basically set up a short meeting with someone. I can only encourage people to have these short meetings and if they are only a five minutes video call. Having them makes such a difference. Yeah, if people can see your face, it’s much better than, you know, just writing an email. And you can directly see how the other person reacts to it. Especially if you know, this could be something easily misunderstood or controversial. You see that the other person finally looks like this and, you know, maybe I need to readjust my message here a little bit and you don’t see that in an email. So being conscious about how you communicate and train in terms of that is really important. 


Emma: Great. And actually, we did a bit of a focus on whatever softer skills were now highly sought out. And what other things do you think came up? So there were three others that were quite key leaders, any ideas? 


Alexander: I think, it’s something about negotiation, conflict resolution, things like that I would say come up. 


Emma: Yes. Yes, exactly. So the second highest was adaptability, third-highest was resilience and the fourth-highest was collaboration. So you’re right there. And so looking at the next slide, so has a pandemic affected the recruitment market? I think that is a giant yes. So I wanted to have a look at post pandemic challenges. So, I looked at it from two perspectives. What were I constantly coming up against the candidates, and what I’m coming up against with clients? Okay. So candidates are basically looking at their current employers and wondering if they can offer exactly what they want. It’s no you can’t really hide from the fact that people’s priorities have changed in the pandemic. All of a sudden profiles have been working full time from home showing that it works. And they are asked to go back to the office sometimes full time. So there’s a lot of movement on the back of that, clients obviously the challenge there is that they’ve got really rigid infrastructures leading to losing top talent to more flexible organizations. So there’s also a fear of lack of stability if they want to make the move. It’s all about moving for the right job. Is it worth that risk? Is it a stable environment being here for a while? Is now the time during a pandemic? So lots of questions that we are coming up against which ultimately accord. 


Alexander: That is really interesting, you know, these first three points are exactly related to trust. So if you as a supervisor asked your direct report to come into the office each and every day, that direct report doesn’t actually need it. That shows that you don’t trust that person. And that person will perceive it that way that you want to control him and that you need to kind of manage him very very closely. So, communication is really, really key. And you communicate not only by your words but also by your actions even much louder than by your words. So this is kind of a sentence. I can’t hear your words because your actions speak so loud. And this is really true here. If your organization forces people into something that they don’t want, then exactly this happens, that current employer cannot longer offer than what I want. 


Emma: Exactly that. And what we are finding is that candidates are after a period of reflection. I guess we couldn’t really do much, could we? So candidates are really prioritizing different things and that will be shown in a few slides. That kind of fear and that want to kind of keep the flexibility that they’ve gained is obviously a problem in a significant reason as to why candidates are open to moving. And since with them holding at home, it is an interesting one, mainly, from more junior profiles to a kind of maximum, say, 5 to 6 years of experience, just because I worried about being able to pick things up quickly and be embedded in culture. A lot of things that obviously, they haven’t really necessarily been able to have access to during the pandemic. The way that transfers on the client side is, are they actually able to adapt to training and boarding home-based workers?  Do they have trainers? Do they have online training? You’d be so surprised, how many organizations don’t? It’s actually mind-blowing. And I think that having online training and having online training that works, but also two very different things. So it’s really key to make sure that you are engaging profiles in the right way to make sure that it is successful. There’s also a lot of discrepancies in packages offered by competitors. Candidates are so confused, what should they be earning right now? And what I am finding is that I’ve worked with clients for some time and there’s very clear benchmarking processes that are in place to make sure things are fair, to make sure candidates are being paid what they should be paid because candidates are going externally and receiving offers from competitors that are incredibly competitive just because they need the talent. It’s kind of leading to a lot of conscious offers internally, that’s really upsetting, internal benchmarking. So everything’s really skewed currently. 


Alexander: I think that is also coming from the facts that, you know, some markets were not so homogeneous before, like, let’s say you have your office in central London and you want, you know, regular people to be there. Then of course, all the people will live kind of in or around central London and we’ll have a similar kind of costly structure. And, you know, there are very similar expectations in terms of salary, but now you’re, you know, recruiting people that are remote and say, maybe he lives somewhere in the countryside, in Wales for a fraction of the cost and now they can say, oh, that’s a completely different game. And these are competing it against each other but also the other around, now you have talent that might not need to come from the City of London or, you know, you have want a tap into this talent, you know, because before you had everybody in the rural side of Wales, and now you want to tap into the global market and you realize, oh salaries in other cities are actually much higher. So this disrupts your complete kind of benchmarking system. 


Emma: Yes, exactly. And I never thought I’d say it but actually leading to clients over paying. Which is something I never thought I’d say as a recruiter, but you’d be surprised. We’ve actually had candidates in process with us, who are gaining 15,000, 20,000 increases on their basic and then all of a sudden their current business is saying we can match that, which gives off a very confusing perception of somebody’s worth in a business. So there’s lots of confusion happening right now. There’s lots of skewing that’s. There’s also, as well, skills gaps. There’s a lot more higher expectation and more pressure going into organizations at a higher level and a higher value. But the skills gap part is really crucial. Usually if you’re short-staffed, as most clients that I worked with, everybody will always look at a particular profile that I’ve got. It means that they don’t necessarily have, they are able, but they just simply don’t have the time to be able to explore new things and learn new parts of the market whether it’s a new program language, whether it’s taking the opportunity to finally get that lead experience. It’s really hard to find the time. It’s not because it’s not offered, it’s because of timing. It means that on the client side, there’s such a need for candidates to come in and hit the ground running, joining, ready to go there. Instead of having to invest in upskilling, they put more pressure on leaders and managers to have time to upskill new staff members that they just don’t simply have. So it’s a bit of a vicious circle at the moment. 


Alexander: Yep, and I think that will continue to be that case because overall there’s a trend for more and more complexity, more demand in the industry. There’s a new competition from, you know, tech companies and things like that, that look for statistics talents. So as a candidate, you need to be a self-starter and you need to, you know, show that you can work independently from day one. 


Emma: Sure. And I think quite a key thing that’s coming through and I’ll talk about it, but candidates are wanting their ideal role not just any role. And I think that where that’s translating on the client side into a challenge is that I’m always given a job description. And to be honest. I know it’s probably not the best thing to hear, but most of them are identical. What the programmer does the statistician does. And a lot of them are very similar, and it’s just a list of everything that might come up, be it a statistician or a programmer. And the way that I have basically started to frame things with clients is that actually listening to what a candidate’s ideal role is and then creating an opportunity around that will give the candidate a good impression or give them a lot of trust and they’ll feel incredibly valued. And then they’ll stay long term. It’s kind of turning it around a little bit. Obviously, there are going to be key therapy skills that they need. There might be the fact that they need leadership. Some things are non-negotiable, but job descriptions kind of become redundant. It’s the story. It’s the information. It’s the vision. That’s what is needed. Even simple things like job adverts. If you’re always recruiting for the same thing, the candidate will look at and say, Oh , that jobs been up for three months and it’s just been constantly refreshed. They don’t know that, there’s probably 10 different jobs. To them it looks like the same job that hasn’t been able to be filled and it’s starting to spot concerned. So I think that moving away from job descriptions and working more closely in what a candidate wants and then creating a hybrid role around that. That’s really worked in 2021 for my team.


Alexander: You are doing to be much more focused. Yeah, just a generic job description kind of goes for everybody doesn’t work because if you go for everybody, you go for nobody. It’s a problem. 


Emma: Exactly that. So how to get it right the first time? So this is what has worked for my team. Okay. So a really clear message to the market is crucial. I’m actually going to talk about probability but statisticians and feeling confident today, but it’s not necessarily using more recruiters doesn’t necessarily lead to a higher probability of you guys filling your roles. The reason I say that is because if there is a confusion, whether message to the market, if it’s not incredibly clear around everything on top of the job description that we just discussed, the vision, the story, the details, the project information, all of that lovely detail, If that gets lost in translation, it’s more of a problem than it is a solution. So sometimes it doesn’t actually help that more people are hearing about your jobs. Sometimes you just need the right few people to hear about the job. Also clear messaging throughout the recruitment process. It’s surprising, actually, how many discrepancies there are from the beginning of the kind of engagement with the candidate in the conversations to actually be offered. You want to make sure whoever’s involved in that recruitment process. They’re all saying the same thing. Also, as I mentioned, you want to create new job descriptions online instead of recycling old ones. It’s really easy to be quite quickly tagged with all that job hasn’t yet been filled. Why, what’s the reason for it? What’s the problem there? So you want to avoid that. All very simple things but something that maybe aren’t necessarily thoughts about as much as they should be. Also really clear progression plans, and career path options. It’s all about that long-term vision. And I guess that links to trust as Alexander’s been talking about quite a lot throughout this process. Another thing as well as really make sure that you are being competitive. I’ve written, do your research, I mean very broad, but I have seen a significant rise in clients asking us to do our own version of work of updating analysis for recruitment, salary benchmarking, benefits package benchmarking. What the candidates really want, which is something that will get onto but 40% of my team’s clients engage more than 40% actually of my team’s client engagement for 2021 was simply information updating analysis. Nothing to do with candidates whatsoever. That’s a huge chunk of our business and it’s just all about making sure that you are being really competitive and you’re finding the solutions to your hiring needs. It’s not necessarily always contingent recruitment and adapting to that quickly is really key. Also, considering your timeline. A lot of the time, it isn’t necessarily clear if there is an urgent need. And if there isn’t an urgent need and you can wait for the ideal candidate, then that’s fine. But if there is an urgent need to be really clear around actually, okay, it’s not the most glamorous way to go to market. But what are the minimum requirements? Where can you be flexible? And just be honest with yourself and your recruiter about that right from day one. This is the ideal. This is what we can work with. This is how we can upskill. It’s also key to have a really fluid approach to the job description. Something we’ve been talking about is making sure that you’re able to really listen to what’s available and what they want to make it achievable and really simple and offering is a bit of a problem. In 2021, the counter offers, the competitor offers, the candidates are in positions where they’ve got two or three offers on the table at one time and it sounds really simple. But to candidates, it’s not always about who’s the highest bidder. It’s not always about he’s the extra 5,000, he’s the 10,000. Very rarely actually is about that. But if you wonder about an offer as opposed to giving them what they wanted, it doesn’t give a good impression in terms of them feeling valued and listened to. And also as well when they get that kind of disappointment, it’s quite a small industry. So it’s quite something that can really easily be avoided. The last thing is speed, the entire recruitment process should not take more than three weeks on the permanent side and on the temporary contract side, it shouldn’t take more than five days. What I’m finding with contingent recruitment. So for my team in 2021, on the contingent side, I think about 60% of the jobs that we had were live for more than a month that were contingent, which means multiple agencies, but a huge amount.


Alexander: In terms of complete recruitment and process, it’s three weeks. That means from the first engagement up to the contract sent out.


Emma: Accepted offer. Yes. Obviously, the HR background processes the contract but from the first engagement with the profile to then that offer being released. It’s quite a surprising figure, isn’t it? Because the problem is really small organizations with flexibility. Some of them can do it in a week with one interview process and this unfortunately, is what is really scaring the market now because that’s what larger organizations are up against. 


Alexander: Yep. 


Emma: Simple things, the pre-booking interview slots to avoid delays, but tell your recruiters beginning. If the recruiter can tell you if the candidates are available for your interview slots whilst they send the CV, significantly shorten the amount of time. Also pre-approve your offer before you get to the final stage. The gap between final interview and offer is such a key point where also other companies are saying Oh, he’s at the final stage. Let’s not miss out. Let’s jump in. Also, fewer interview stages are just quicker responses from CV to first interview show engagement, all really simple things. 


Alexander: Yeah. I completely agree with that. Basically, it speaks to making it a priority, isn’t that? 


Emma: Yes, exactly. And it’s all about embedding that value and trust that you’ve discussed throughout your section. It’s so key to make sure that the candidates know that this is a serious hire, being taken seriously and it really sets the tone long-term in the fast these processes go, then the longer the candidates tend to stay because it really sets the tone and then it’s ongoing. 


Alexander: Yeah, I’ve heard about managers that were so busy that they delegated the interviews with the candidates. 


Emma: Yes. 


Alexander: Well, as I was thinking kind of, oh, no, you really think you’ll win and when a candidate if you’re not, even, you know, open to interview them. 


Emma: Yes, exactly. And a lot of the time, there’s some really amazing organizations that work with what their vision is, their story, everything is amazing, and they do most of the process so well. They do probably 90% of the process really well, but that final 10% would just be the simple things that speed the process. But getting through the interviews, making sure that there’s not more than two interviews that little part as well, they trip up and unfortunately, they then miss out on talent. So what I wanted to actually then focus on is the rise in data analysis, but within recruitment, so a lot of work that we did last year was things like market mapping, salary benchmarking, benefit package, benchmarking, global talent maps, and specific advertising campaigns. And whether it’s a foreign agent, whether it’s your internal talent acquisition teams, whether it’s yourself doing it, really taking the time to reflect on what is actually happening and how you are going to appropriately successfully hire is really key. The part in the middle between, this is what I need and what can actually be given. There’s such a massive gap there at the moment that taking that time to educate yourself on actually, Okay, well, how can I make this achievable? What’s actually possible? So many clients came to us last year. panicking about their 2022 hire plans and how they can make it work and investing in this at the beginning to make sure that actually you’ve got an achievable hiring plan before you’ve even set out as crucial. Most of the work recruiters do is damage control. Unfortunately, it’s never about getting it right the first time and damage control is where it’s a problem. So try and get on the front foot and make sure you do it right the first time. 


Alexander: Yeah, as always, there was a question about, is this three weeks also applicable to finding statisticians or data scientists? I would say, absolutely. 


Emma: Yes. And so the way that I’m not entirely sure how current agencies work, but the way that I work is whenever I have a particular profile and I will talk to them about options that are available in the market. I’ll listen to what their ideal is and then match them to the profiles that I’m aware about. Sometimes, I don’t even know if they’re really interested in particular companies that don’t have jobs for us. Still ask questions to line managers that I’ve worked with before to say, look. I know that you haven’t told me what to look for now, but this person is interested and I think they’d be suited to your organization. So I’m always kind of resilient to say, from the recruiter side, I don’t want to take away the fact that it’s really hard for us to find profiles, and we also need to do all of it in order for you to be able to do your bit. But when we do come across as profiles, we really need to make sure that the response is fast to secure them because unfortunately the volume just isn’t there. So it’s so risky that when you do find one, you need to go for it. So I do understand, there’s a balance and I think that honesty with your agency is really crucial because if you’re in a position where you just aren’t getting those profiles and they’re not telling you why and obviously that’s the problem.


Alexander: But the other point is really kind of you need to have all your kind of systems, processes, capacities set up so that you can act fast. 


Emma: Sure. So the big one. What do the candidates want? So, I did a bit of analysis on candidates that myself and my team had spoken to within Biometrics. So this is just Biometrics focused. These are all the key things that came up in terms of what they would actually move for. Okay. So Alexander, I’d like to see if you could actually successfully position, maybe the top five that came up. What do you think? 


Alexander: Do I think when I talk to people more interesting project work comes up very often, this kind of hybrid full-time working is kind of a standard stuff and team culture is also really, really important, how people are valued. And I think then, you know, of course, if people want to change they also want  to look for more money, but I wouldn’t say this is usually, this is a make or break it. It’s, of course, if you change, you look forward to this opportunity, but primarily people want to have satisfaction at work.


Emma: Okay, you want to know what the top five were?


Alexander: Yeah. 


Emma: And it’s quite surprising. I’ll go backwards. So a number five, it was more interesting project work. 


Alexander: Okay.


Emma: So it made the top five, made the top five. Number four was for a promotion. So a lot of the feedback that we got, there’s a lot of discrepancy between what titles mean within each business. So, for example, the principle in one business is quite different to what a principle is in another business. 

Alexander: Yep.


Emma: So a lot of the time it’s all about feeling that value and getting that title so that came in number four. Number three, which is actually really surprising, over 75 percent of workers said that they would move for a limited company contract position, which was mind-blowing. I was so surprised by that. 


Alexander: Yes. That is the  kind of contract workers, isn’t it? 


Emma: Yes, exactly. It’s a very UK centric thing there that’s come out, but a lot of it’s weird because obviously with the changes with the UK contract law in IR35. It’s been quite a big shift in how kind of contract or temporary workers are working. A lot of want of fully home-based, part time working and work with multiple companies as opposed to just the one organization. But it’s not what it used to be, being a temporary worker, particularly not in the UK. And I was so surprised that obviously there’s been a huge shift of people moving into permanent roles, but who would really quickly move into that solution if it was possible. The other one then, number two is full-time working. And the first one was actually an increase in basic salary, so quite interesting data there to see the difference. But I think one of the key things, just a note about that is the reason why candidates don’t necessarily go into the project or team culture piece of verses, because I think for us some of the key things we have to ask them is managing expectations around, kind of salary, benefits packages, Etc. So, it’s something we talked about a lot more, but I just thought it was quite eye-opening to see that. 


Alexander: Yep. It does. Let’s come now to the end which is really good and that is your slide about how people can get in contact with you. 


Emma: Yes. Exactly. So, at Michael Page the life sciences business is new. We’ve been around for two years now. We’ve grown quite significantly, but not a lot of people have necessarily known that. Well, everybody knows Michael Page, but not very many people know about Michael Page Life Sciences, so I wanted to just share some useful links that you look into. So there’s a website. Also, the link to jobs that we’ve got but a key thing is we actually do quite lot of e-books and on particular trends throughout the year and we also as well have got a lot of content that’s kind of advisory, salary guides for example, so if anybody would like access to any of the data that we have, just pop me a quick email and more than happy to share with you. 


Alexander: Awesome. Thanks so much. I hope you really very much enjoyed all the discussions that we had today about how to do recruitment and retention in this post-pandemic world that we’ll hope to get to in some place and that’s, you know, a couple of really important factors to consider. I think one of the key things that came out of most of the presentation was that it’s all about connecting to the individuals and making sure that people really understand what they go for, and has a very, very clear story to tell and not just a generic job profile which as you said correctly looks very, very similar across the industry, just with a different intro at the top. And so don’t just work like this because I’m pretty sure your job is not just a standard one. There’s surely specific things that are more important than others and just kind of having a laundry list of all the different things up to, oh, you will do sample size calculations, make it more specific and that will help you to recruit the people. Any final word from you Emma. 


Emma: No.Just thanks for listening. I always enjoy opportunities like this to actually look at what’s happening. And I guess that even, I was surprised by some of this data that we’ve gotten. We’re lucky to have access to this and investment in this analysis. So if anybody has any additional questions or would like anything specific, we are able to assist you. 


Alexander: Thanks so much. And with that, have a nice rest of the day, rest of the week and see you soon again on The Effective Statistician. 


Emma: Thank you. 


Alexander: The show was created in association with PSI. Thanks to Reine, who helped the show in the background, and thank you for listening. Reach your potential, lead great sciences and serve patients. Just be an effective statistician. 


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