30 May 2023

Do I belong to a company that offers me opportunities to apply and develop my functional expertise, or do I belong to a function that provides me with subject matter expertise to a company?

This is a question that many life sciences professionals may ask themselves, especially in the current context of remote or hybrid work and online communities. Feeling a primary belonging to the professional function rather than to the company that employs them has been a growing tendency for years. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this tendency.

A key factor for feeling a sense of belonging is that individuals are not only accepted for their uniqueness, but also valued and appreciated. From that perspective, online communities or professional societies that match preferences and welcome people for who they are will act as competition to companies for the sense of belonging.

All hiring in the life sciences sector starts by considering what competencies are needed to ensure the organization has the necessary capabilities to fulfill its vision and mission. This is, however, only the beginning of a successful hiring process—attracting talent to a rewarding development path.

Having belonging in mind will not only aid attraction, but also performance and retention.

As an individual, you are more than your functional competencies. You are also a person with history, culture, relationships, and beliefs. Such traits should also be appreciated and recognised to such an extent that you feel like you are part of the company

Failure by the organisation to do so may lead to uncertainty and, hence, undermine performance and the ability to collaborate.

What can you do to help improve the workplace dynamics, essential for shaping a sense of belonging?

  • Gain insight into team members’ sense of being an “insider” in the team or just a satellite orbiting. Ask them how they feel about their role, their contribution, and their connection with the team and the company. Listen to their feedback and address any concerns or issues.
  • Supplement leadership with mentorship: Motivate key team members to function as advocates. Encourage them to mentor and coach other team members, especially new hires or junior staff. Help them develop their leadership skills and recognize their efforts.
  • Rethink team processes: Do not only invite to participate but secure a true seat at the table. Ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to share their ideas, opinions, and perspectives. Foster a culture of collaboration and innovation. Celebrate successes and learn from failures.

A true feeling of belonging to the organization will also require:

  • Recognize efforts and accomplishments. Acknowledge and appreciate the work that your team members do. Give them constructive feedback and praise. Reward them for their achievements and impact.
  • Appreciate contributions. Value and respect the diversity of your team members. Recognize their unique skills, experiences, and backgrounds. Leverage their strengths and support their development.
  • Practice candor and invite for honest opinions. Be transparent and honest with your team members. Communicate clearly and effectively. Invite them to share their feedback and suggestions. Address any conflicts or disagreements constructively.
  • See the whole person – not only the part that brings solutions. Show interest and care for your team members as individuals. Learn about their history, culture, relationships, and beliefs. Support their well-being and work-life balance.

In the life sciences industry, competition for top talent is fierce. To attract and retain the best and brightest, organisations need to foster a sense of belonging for their employees and provide an environment where they can declare, 

Yes, I matter!”

For more information on how we incorporate belonging into our Talent Acquisition Services and Management services, get in touch with us: https://aimsinternational.com/en/life-sciences/

About the Author:

Gert Andersen

Gert Andersen has experience in c-suite and senior level international executive search for the Pharmaceuticals, Med Tech, and Nutrition sectors with an emphasis on Market Access, Marketing, Medical Affairs, Regulatory Affairs, and General Management. Gert draws on extensive experience gained over 20 years in the Pharmaceutical and Talent Acquisition/Management industries in Europe and North America.