By Angela Rose, BioSpace.com
The biotech industry employed 96,000 more workers in 2010 than it did in 2001, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). By BIO’s count, there were 1, 605, 533 bioscience-based U.S. employees at the end of the decade. While the industry fared better than many, it wasn’t immune to losses during the Great Recession. The 2010 number is 23,000 lower than that of 2007. This represents a 1.4 percent decline.
Fortunately, the economy as a whole appears to be moving in a positive direction. This has many companies, including those in biotech, preparing to hire once the holiday madness has subsided. Of course, hiring new lab associates, QC managers and research assistants doesn’t come without costs. It requires an investment of time to source and recruit new employees. Then there’s the training. It can be weeks before your new programmer or systems analyst is up to speed. This is a definite drain on your business’s productivity.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You have the opportunity to hire biotech employees who are able to jump right in to your available positions. They’re the engineers you let go during the economic downturn. They’re the field sales representatives who left for ‘better’ offers. Win back these ‘boomerang’ employees and you’ll save time as well as money. Here’s how to do it.
1. Conduct exit interviews
Whether your lab assistant is leaving due to layoffs or a new opportunity, make sure human resources or her manager takes the time to talk to her about her experience. This is one of the best ways to garner a staff-level view of what is going right or wrong within your company. It will also provide you with insight into what it might take to win her back.
2. Create a database
Whether you track it within a spreadsheet on your computer or enter it into actual database software, gather information about every exiting employee. This should include current contact data as well as why they left, their skills, and any major contributions. This will help you identify top performers when it’s time to rehire.
3. Keep in touch
If you eventually want to reach out to former top performers, and the potential savings say you should, you need to maintain contact. Some companies set up groups on social media sites and interact in that way. Others connect with alumni on the company website. Whatever approach you choose, consider adding in-person gatherings to touch base.
4. Add value to the offer
Your top research scientist and pharmaceutical engineer probably didn’t spend much time unemployed, if any at all. If you want to win them back, you need to offer more. This could mean a higher salary or a performance bonus. It might require schedule flexibility or a new title. You may even want to offer a reinstatement of benefits such as personal time or health insurance without the customary waiting period
5. Address all concerns
A downsized former employee is going to have concerns, especially if you’re asking him to leave another position in order to return. There may be some resentment as well. Take the time to address his concerns before you make a formal offer. You may need to discuss company financials in order to calm his fears. You could even offer some sort of severance as an assurance that you will not downsize him again within a specified period.
In addition to former top performers, consider recruiting retirees, former interns and long-term consultants for open positions. All offer an unbeatable return on investment in comparison to a fresh hire – and, if you do it right, it is possible to win them back.
About the Author
Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.