Employee retention and effective recruiting in life science companies

The life science industry is one of the largest and most important in the world. Due to high performance pressure and a lack of resources, companies often find it difficult to retain employees in the long term. In this article, you will learn how to attract and retain qualified employees despite the war of talents.


In 2022, the life sciences industry in Germany comprised 750 companies in the biotechnology sector, more than 1,400 in the medical technology sector (source: Statista) and around 500 in the pharmaceutical industry. That is around 7.5 million people employed in the healthcare sector. The chemical-pharmaceutical industry alone generated a turnover of almost 200 billion euros in 2019, making it the third strongest sector in Germany in terms of turnover. This makes the life science sector one of the most essential industries worldwide.

The Canadian research institute Precedence Research predicts that the industry will grow by 8.25 % by 2030. And according to Deloitte's Global Health Care Outlook 2023, 80 million health care workers will be needed worldwide by 2030 – 18 million of them in developing countries.

A steadily growing industry with challenges

The strong growth of the industry is mainly related to the increased use of technologically sophisticated devices and artificial intelligence, as these can facilitate and speed up work in the long term. 

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a major challenge to the industry and drove issues such as digitalisation and sustainability. Another issue that does not stop at the health sector in particular is equality. Changing social, economic and environmental circumstances mean that healthcare needs to be rethought.

With all the challenges facing the life sciences sector, it requires qualified specialists – especially in the field of analytics – that are often lacking. The "cost of vacancy", i.e. the costs incurred by the company for an unfilled position, averages 37,700 euros in the healthcare sector, according to an analysis conducted by StepStone.

In addition, high workloads, lack of resources and competitive pressure are the reason for a stressful working environment. A not too rare consequence of this is burnout. These factors and the prevailing shortage of skilled workers frequently make it difficult for companies to attract employees who will stay for the long term.


Tips for recruiting in the life science industry

We give you an outlook on how you can manage to retain employees:

1. Expand and use networks

Create a network of graduates, professors, lab technicians, etc. that you can draw on. Present yourself at trade fairs, on the web, at universities or research institutions and approach potential employees directly. With the help of referral programmes, you can also give your existing employees the opportunity to help shape the recruiting process and use their own networks.

2. Offer further training

In the health sector, especially in research, it is important to educate oneself further. Create a corporate culture in which it is made possible for employees to do internal and external trainings, promote mentoring programmes or cooperation with research institutes. Active participation in conferences can also be interesting for some of your employees. In the end, every employee training is also a benefit for the company.

3. Outsourcing

In the USA and Australia, skilled workers such as nurses are hired from Ireland or Malaysia. Even if the prerequisites and qualifications should of course be the same as in Germany, it is worth considering hiring qualified professionals from abroad. In turn, they could be offered further education and training.

4. Rethink your corporate structures

Long official channels, little freedom and rigid hierarchies slow down creativity, innovation and the spirit of research. Self-determination also plays a major role. Create a workplace that your employees can help shape. This will make them more motivated and committed to driving scientific progress.

5. Digital strategy

As in most other industries, recruiters in the life science sector cannot avoid a digital strategy. Most medical jobs are searched for on the platform jobvector. Social media, especially business platforms such as LinkedIn and paid advertising, also help you to attract more attention. In addition, the experts at LHH can help you find professionals with the necessary experience.


Life science companies should give their employees opportunities for further development and research. Always being up-to-date – that should be the goal of the company and the employees.

To be able to recruit successfully, it is first worth taking a look inside the company and asking yourself what you can offer applicants. Highlight your greatest benefits and show future employees that they and their work are valued by giving them creative freedom.

At LHH, we know and understand the challenges of the life science industry and work closely with healthcare recruiters. With our expertise and many years of experience, we can help you find qualified professionals. Contact one of our career experts now!