10 Strategies for Retaining Remote Life Science Talent

Written by: Lucy Walters
Published on: 31 Aug 2023

Strategies for Retaining Remote TalentAs the life science industry continues to adapt to the changing work landscape, remote working has become a prevalent practice. While remote work offers flexibility and convenience for employees, it can pose unique challenges for recruiters and hiring managers in the industry.

Retaining remote life science talent requires special attention to keeping these employees engaged, motivated and productive, whilst also ensuring they feel connected to the company culture.

In this article, we explore 10 strategies for retaining remote life science talent, helping your workforce to thrive regardless of where they work.

Understand What Your Employees Need

Before an employee begins working remotely, sit down with them to address any concerns they may have about this change, and to identify the tools they need to make remote working a success. This is your opportunity to establish an open line of communication with employees, ensuring that they come straight to you with any issues or other feedback about remote working.

Not every employee will thrive working outside of an office environment, so this is also your opportunity to ensure your employee understands what is expected of them and discuss whether this is the right move for them.

Create a Shared Working Space

It can be difficult for employees to stay motivated and feel connected to the rest of their colleagues if working from home full time. If you’re a fully remote company, consider creating a space for employees to work in, providing space for social interaction if they need it. If you already have an office, ensure there are areas where remote employees can come in and work from if they feel like they need a change.

To make the most out of these spaces, use employee feedback to get an idea of how many people would use the space, what they hope to gain from it, and what they’d like to see in it.

Schedule Regular Check-ins

Scheduling regular check-ins with remote employees can foster a sense of connection, support, and engagement. By establishing a consistent schedule for check-ins, whether through video calls, phone calls, or virtual team meetings, you can create a structured communication channel where employees can share both their successes and any challenges they’re facing.

To allow remote employees to stay connected to the entire team whilst also giving them the space to share any personal concerns, use a mix of weekly team meetings, one-to-one catchups, virtual coffee breaks and periodic town hall meetings to share updates from across the organisation.

Provide Access to Training and Development Opportunities

42% of managers said they sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks, with these workers reportedly also getting promoted less often than their in-office peers. Some remote workers may experience limited opportunities for professional development compared to in-office coworkers due to physical distance from in-person training programs, on-site resources, and less opportunity for supervisors to see the hard work and successes achieved.

Offering virtual training sessions, webinars, or e-learning platforms can bridge this gap and provide remote employees with the chance to enhance their skills, expand their knowledge, and stay updated with the latest industry trends. You could arrange virtual workshops, invite industry experts to deliver online presentations or provide access to specialised online courses and certifications.

Ensure you have a strategy in place for recognising and rewarding all employees, regardless of where they work, protecting remote employees from proximity bias and fostering a culture of recognition across the entire team.

Foster a Sense of Community

Fostering a sense of community can combat feelings of isolation, promote a positive work culture, and replicate the camaraderie experienced in an office environment. Creating a virtual community allows remote employees to feel connected, engaged, and part of a larger team. You could foster a sense of community by:

  • Running virtual team-building activities such as online games, virtual happy hours, or collaborative projects that encourage remote employees to work together.
  • Implementing virtual chat channels or social platforms where employees can connect, share ideas, and build relationships.
  • Organising frequent virtual team meetings or town halls to allow employees to feel involved in the company’s overall vision and direction.
  • Creating an employee newsletter or staff intranet where employees can celebrate milestones, share life updates, report recent company achievements, and more.

Creating a virtual community will boost morale, improve teamwork, and ultimately help to retain remote employees by creating a sense of belonging and connection to the wider organisation.

More tips on keeping remote employees connected can be found here.

Ensure Clear Communication

Promote transparency, collaboration, and productivity by ensuring clear communication with your remote employees. Remote workers heavily rely on effective communication channels to receive instructions, clarify doubts, share progress, and collaborate with colleagues. Utilise various tools such as video conferencing software, instant messaging platforms, and project management tools to ensure employees have clear ways of working together on projects.

Regular team meetings, both group and one-to-one, provide an opportunity to discuss goals, progress, expectations, and challenges. Creating and sharing clear documentation, such as project guidelines or meeting summaries also helps to ensure alignment and avoid miscommunication.

Recognise and Reward Employees

In a 2021 survey, a fifth of UK workers reported getting less recognition within their careers as a direct result of working remotely. Remote workers are at risk of missing out on the immediate recognition and feedback received in a physical office setting, which can lead to feelings of being undervalued. Ensure all employees are recognised and rewarded by implementing a system where outstanding achievements, milestones, or contributions are acknowledged both publicly and privately.

This can be done through virtual appreciation events, shout-outs during team meetings, or virtual awards ceremonies. Offering tangible rewards such as gift cards, bonus incentives, or professional development opportunities also serve as powerful motivators. Additionally, providing regular feedback, constructive praise, or personalised recognition messages can go a long way in making remote employees feel valued and appreciated.

Provide Adequate Technical Support

Ensure remote employees have the necessary tools and resources to perform their jobs effectively. They rely heavily on technology to carry out their work, and any technical difficulties or limitations can result in frustration, decreased productivity, and a negative work experience.

Ensure remote employees have a dedicated support contact for assistance with any issues, including troubleshooting software, and hardware problems, providing remote access to necessary databases or systems, or resolving connectivity issues.

Regularly updating remote employees with the latest technology advancements, and software updates, or providing training sessions on new tools and platforms can also contribute to smooth operations.

Create Clear Policies and Procedures

Clear policies and procedures provide remote employees with a sense of structure, expectations, and a framework for their work. They can help employees navigate some of the challenges of remote working by providing guidelines on working hours, communication expectations, task prioritisation, and performance evaluation criteria.

Establish remote work policies that outline expectations, deadlines, and guidelines for remote employees.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Remote workers often face challenges around disconnecting from work, blurring the boundaries between their personal and professional lives. Help employees to maintain a healthy and happy work environment by:

  • Promoting flexible schedules.
  • Encouraging regular breaks.
  • Setting boundaries around communication and availability.
  • Providing resources for employee self-care.
  • Organising wellness programs.
  • Offering mental health resources.
  • Allocating a budget for employees to design a work-from-home space that works for them.

Show that you value employee well-being beyond productivity.

Make the Most of Employee Feedback…

Remember that every employee is different, and when it comes to remote working, not every employee will thrive in this environment. Use employee feedback to shape your retention strategies and remote working policies, ensuring you’re creating a positive work environment where people feel connected and motivated regardless of where they are.

More tips on improving your employee retention can be found here.