The changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have altered the dynamics of the U.S. workforce and workplace, significantly impacting the ways organizations think about acquiring and keeping talent. The life sciences and healthcare sectors are certainly feeling those impacts as companies scramble to secure talented leaders who will keep them moving forward in a very competitive market.

Four trends in particular are evident in the life sciences and healthcare sectors right now:

1. People shortage

With the labor market so tight, there are fewer qualified candidates available to fill important leadership roles. That is causing a significant challenge for companies that are very much in need of smart, experienced, and diverse leaders to take their organizations to the next level. Some are replacing C-suite executives who may have departed due to the ‘Great Resignation’ or those who were poached away by competitors. Others are seeking to fill new positions within the company as it expands.

In order to compete for top talent, companies and recruiters are accessing new and previously untapped networks. They are going deeper and wider than ever, often looking outside conventional sources and identifying potential candidates whose backgrounds may fall outside the life sciences, but whose capacities lend themselves to success in biotechnology, diagnostics, genomics, or other related fields.

There is also an increased emphasis on recruiting from within, developing and eventually promoting promising young talent who might otherwise be lured to competing firms. Recruiters like Slone Partners, with years of executive recruiting experience and existing relationships with prospective leadership candidates, have a distinct advantage over those who don’t in that they are more likely to source and place candidates, both passive and active, quickly, before they disappear.

2. Rising salaries and job titles

Even before the recent rise in inflation, salaries for top coveted C-suite executives were increasing. It’s simply a matter of supply and demand. Experienced and qualified candidates can often write their own ticket in this market, although we are beginning to see that recede a bit in recent months as the economy has cooled. However, the most coveted executives with solid track records can still dictate the terms of a deal. They can also, in some cases, negotiate a more senior job title. The companies that need to secure top leaders will often capitulate on those demands if they can be assured of landing a rock star who will help them grow their business in a competitive market.

3. Remote work is changing the landscape

The concept of work is changing quickly.  A recent study by Advanced Workplace Associates reveals that only 3 percent of employees want to work in the office full time, while 13 percent want to work remotely full time.  A majority prefer a hybrid work schedule where they work several days in the office and several days remotely. Recent research from Ladders indicates that 18 percent of professional jobs are now remote. Many executives – in the life sciences and beyond – are attracted to positions that offer remote work options and many ask about those opportunities in the interview process.

The number of high paying remote positions has quadrupled since the pandemic as companies and their leaders have realized the many benefits of hybrid work options. New technologies have helped overcome the obstacles that previously limited the effectiveness of remote work, and many organizations are actually lowering their overhead by scaling down on their physical infrastructure. Many of the C-suite leaders whom we help place at life sciences and healthcare companies place high regard on hybrid work opportunities along with salary and benefits when they negotiate a deal. It’s a new reality that isn’t going away.

4. The ROI on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is rising

Efforts to diversify the life sciences industry continue to gain momentum. Companies now expect diverse candidate pools when they are considering filling top positions. They want to hire and promote more women and people of color to better reflect the markets they serve, but they also realize that will require a serious commitment of time, energy, and resources. Candidates we source will often inquire as to a company’s diverse workforce and its DEI policies. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that Gen Zers are serious about diversity. They want to work at a place where the corporate culture is vibrant, healthy, and heterogeneous.

The intense competition for top talent, therefore, is driving organizations to take DEI seriously and to proactively and consciously create a culture where people thrive and success breeds success. DEI is no longer just a line item in the HR budget. It’s something that is engrained throughout an organization from the bottom to the top. Many of the executives we speak with consider workplace diversity to be essential, knowing that it will help drive their long-term growth.

At Slone Partners, our executive recruitment specialists are focused on building rich, robust, and diverse candidate pools. As a company, we are sincere advocates of the power of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to make great companies even greater. That principle is built into our DNA. We know that companies with significantly more racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to outperform their competitors and that diverse teams see a 60 percent improvement in decision making. DEI is also good for the bottom line as research shows that inclusive companies are 1.7 times more innovative and 120 percent more likely to hit their financial goals.

Our newest service line, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategies by Slone Partners, is designed to help companies negotiate the DEI landscape, develop smart and effective diversity recruiting strategies, and foster healthy inclusive cultures that will serve as magnets for diverse workers and candidates over the longer term.

These four trends – the people shortage, rising salaries, remote work options, and DEI – are significantly impacting the life services and healthcare industries and our efforts as premier executive recruiters to place talented leaders at innovative companies.