The industry outlook and labour market for professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is foreseeably positive for the future, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gains a steady momentum. Not only will there be more new jobs being created in the industry, but they will also continue to contribute to the growth of the life sciences and engineering sectors.
But how can companies effectively grow their life sciences and engineering capabilities when STEM professionals have increasing job expectations?
Our 2022 global life sciences and engineering employer brand report captured workforce sentiments in the industry and the key employee value proposition (EVP) factors that STEM professionals look for in ideal employers.
why should engineering and life sciences companies care about employer branding?
Talent scarcity remains one of the most pressing issues for companies involved in digital acceleration amidst post-pandemic recovery. With a limited talent pool and fierce competition for talent, organisations must differentiate themselves from each other and ensure they stand out to attract talent who share their values and purpose.
There is hence a greater need for employers to showcase their unique employer brand with empowering messages to engage highly-skilled and driven STEM workers.
Companies that have a quality employer branding strategy that sends a clear, positive message. The first step is to effectively communicate the company’s value proposition, which is integral to the overall talent attraction strategy.
When an employer promotes the company’s existing employee benefits and organisational culture on digital platforms, it increases employer brand awareness and attracts more professionals to the company. Our report on the current workforce’s expectations will keep you updated about what STEM professionals look for in an ideal employer.
employee value propositions that matter to engineering and life sciences workers
When asked to rank a list of employee value proposition (EVP) factors, salary and benefits, long-term job security and work-life balance are the top factors that both life sciences and engineering professionals look for in an ideal employer.
A point of interest is the divergence between life sciences workers and engineers. A high proportion (71%) of engineers consider salary as the most important EVP, while just slightly more than half (55%) of life scientists share the same sentiment.
In fact, for life sciences professionals, long-term job security (60%) stood as the highest EVP factor, followed by being able to work in a pleasant environment (58%) and attractive salary and benefits (55%).
difference in the top 3 EVP factors between engineering and life sciences professionals
Life sciences jobs in research and development can be rather research-intensive. STEM professionals often need to commit to long-term research projects that require them to repeat processes multiple times.
Employers will need to provide learning opportunities either through continued education or new projects to continue developing the capabilities of life sciences professionals. These learning opportunities should also be communicated externally by publishing research papers, media engagement, as well as the company’s product and research web pages.
employees’ top unmet need is attractive salary and benefits
Despite the fact that attractive salaries and benefits were ranked as one of their top three most attractive EVP factors, it is the most unmet expectation among the life sciences professionals and engineers. These respondents ranked ‘attractive salary and benefits’ 7th in terms of what their employers prioritise.
Life sciences demand a competent, knowledgeable team with the relevant technical expertise in laboratory research, technical sales and regulatory affairs. There is also a much higher expectation for engineering talent to have technical and digital skills to perform their duties in advanced manufacturing sectors and research and development (R&D) facilities.
Companies that want top talent must pay their employees fairly and, in some cases, go above and beyond the market rate, given the increased demand for niche skills.
Furthermore, for the extent of a research project, a high salary is also a priority factor that enables highly skilled STEM personnel to commit for the long-term.
the percentage of job switchers grew from 10% to 15%
Despite long-term job security being an important EVP in both life sciences and engineering industries, companies have found it more difficult to retain employees. Job switching behaviour among professionals in the life sciences and engineering has increased from 10% in 2021 to 15% in 2022.
By extension, 24% of life sciences and engineering professionals plan to change jobs in the first half of 2022, a 6% increase from the previous year.
The increasing appetite to change jobs lies in employees being more aware of corporate reputations and salary prospects of different companies within the life sciences sector. In the life sciences and healthcare industry, it has always been important to put people at the centre of work to give their company a competitive advantage.
This is why it is critical for employers to develop an effective talent and engagement strategy so they can also improve employee retention as well.
Companies can reduce employee turnover and increase their ability to attract new talent by strengthening their talent experience, providing opportunities for career growth and better work-life balance.
83% of life sciences and engineering professionals want their employers to offer upskilling opportunities
Despite the high expectation for training, only 61% of life sciences and engineering respondents felt that their employers provide learning and development (L&D) opportunities to help them grow professionally.
Companies need to improve their L&D programmes to ensure that they are robust and relevant enough to meet talent learning expectations. Besides formal and mandatory training programmes, managers play a significant role in upskilling their employees with on-the-job learning opportunities.
Managers are more involved in their employee’s day-to-day and more aware of the challenges that they face at work. This would include providing the necessary support to guide employees towards finding solutions and making decisions independently. Through these real work situations, life sciences and engineering professionals would learn how to overcome similar challenges in the future and help others do the same.
Many working professionals seek new learning opportunities to prepare themselves for greater responsibilities at work and to realise their full potential. Companies that demonstrate their comprehensive L&D roadmaps as well as how employees have benefitted from these programmes are more likely to attract talent looking for similar learning opportunities to advance their careers.
82% of employees expect a blend of working remotely and on-site in the future
Work-life balance is a significant EVP factor in attracting and retaining talent in the life sciences and engineering sectors.
Evidently, 82% of life sciences and engineering working professionals expect to work both remotely and on-site in the future. When working remotely, employees can proactively plan for their work-life needs, which explains why the talent expectation for work flexibility has increased over the years.
Flexible work arrangements allow professionals to have more control over their time, especially when laboratory tests take a long time to complete. Instead of waiting in the lab for test results, R&D technicians may prefer to run personal errands or to catch up with other work from the comfort of their home.
Digitalisation makes people more productive at work and enables them to work remotely. Companies that are already investing in technology should digitise processes as much as possible so that their employees have the option to work remotely whenever possible.
download the 2022 randstad employer brand research: global life sciences and engineering report
Developing a strong engagement and talent strategy that attracts top talent in life sciences and engineering requires deep attention to employee and talent insights.
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