Attract and retain talent in the Life Science industry

Article series: The main challenges facing the Life Science industry in Denmark - Part 2

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Pernille Hemmingsen

Research Manager, Denmark


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Only by recognising and addressing these modern work demands can organisations thrive and retain talent in a time when employees’ expectations of the world of work are constantly evolving

In early 2023, we published the Whitepaper “The Battle for Talent“, where we conducted an in-depth analysis of the Life Science industry in Denmark from a recruitment perspective. In this three-part article series, we will revisit the three main challenges we identified in the Whitepaper and examine how they have evolved over the past year.

In our first article, which you can read here, we dive into the Life Science industry’s competitive recruitment environment and how it shapes the industry. In this second part, we focus on how it affects candidates and how you as an organisation can succeed in attracting talent to your organisation.

A shift in the power balance

In recent years, the growing demand for specialised professionals has changed the rules of the job market. Employees are now in the driver’s seat, especially the highly skilled. This shift has created a more balanced relationship between companies and candidates, with the latter now having the power to present their unique requirements to a workplace. To thrive in this modern recruitment landscape, it is crucial for any organisation to embrace this reality and fine-tune its approach to recruitment accordingly.

At the same time, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change. Many individuals have changed workplaces in the wake of the pandemic, driven by a changing attachment to the workplace, with the home office becoming the norm for a period of time. This shift has not only involved a transition in the work environment, but also a change in the way people maintain relationships and communities in the workplace. The physical separation from colleagues has affected the dynamic, with daily life no longer being shared as intensely in the office. This impact is still being felt and has challenged organisations’ ability to retain their employees.

This new balance of power puts candidates in a stronger position to negotiate and openly discuss work/life balance. Pernille Hemmingsen, Research Manager at Compass, notes: “We see that more and more candidates are prioritising a harmonious work/life balance. In our conversations with candidates, work/life balance is almost always one of the first things to come up. It has become a critical factor that needs to be in place and therefore it is important to get this clarified early in the process.”

Do you want to read our entire whitepaper?

We focus on the industry’s main challenges from a recruitment perspective and present ten tips on how companies can meet their recruitment needs in a highly competitive market.


Good leadership is key to retention

In today’s dynamic labour market, talent management and succession planning have become indispensable components for the success of any organisation. “An essential part of this strategy is to engage in an honest dialogue during the recruitment process, clarifying current job requirements while outlining future career opportunities,” says Pernille Hemmingsen, Research Manager i Compass. She elaborates: “This not only ensures that the job avoids becoming a dead end, but instead transforms it into a springboard for further growth and development within the organisation – an aspect that is highly valued by candidates.” Being accommodating to employee progression is crucial, and this is further supported by cultivating a strong social environment, which can reinforce employee belonging and engagement with the organisation.

In the past, an employee’s loyalty to their employer was expected, partly due to a more unequal balance of power in favour of companies. However, today’s labour market is undergoing significant changes. Candidates now place a high value on their personal and professional development. They are selective and thoroughly analyse job opportunities to ensure they align with their individual ambitions and personal lives. This shift in prioritisation is no longer new, but it is now firmly entrenched. This means it poses new challenges for organisations and their leaders. They are tasked with navigating a work culture where employees’ personal development is at the centre. As Pernille Hemmingsen puts it: “In this changing labour market, candidates will no longer bend and stretch to fit an organisation’s framework.” In other words, it is the organisations that must bend and stretch more.

This requires a new approach to leadership that emphasises meeting the individualised needs of each employee,” says Rasmus Meyhoff, Partner and Practice Lead in Life Science at Compass. A leader must understand the value of customising employees’ work life to their individual needs and ensure that the career ladder is flexible and in line with the individual’s ambitions. If a candidate cannot imagine thriving within the framework defined by a prospective employer, it is likely they will decline the job offer. Similarly, it is crucial for employee retention that companies continuously adapt working conditions in accordance with the employee’s lifecycle and changing individual needs.

Accommodating this diversity of needs and aspirations requires a leader who not only understands but also values the diversity of their team. Furthermore, it requires organisations to support this approach and ensure that the leader has the necessary resources and support to succeed. “Only by recognising and addressing these modern demands of the workplace can organisations thrive and retain talent in a time when employees’ expectations of the workplace are constantly evolving,” Rasmus Meyhoff emphasises.

Make a work-from-home strategy

The pandemic has changed our perspective on working from home, which has required many organisations to adapt, with varying degrees of success. Although working from home has now become an expected norm in many roles, there are still some organisations that are hesitant to make it a regular part of their practice. This, in our experience, significantly reduces organisations’ ability to attract candidates and their overall attractiveness.

According to our own research, 7 out of 10 candidates prefer to work from home for 2 or more days a week.  Candidates are increasingly prioritising work-life flexibility as a key factor in assessing the attractiveness of a workplace. According to Pernille Hemmingsen, the ability to work from home has now become a fundamental expectation and no longer just an attractive selling point. Organisations that do not offer this flexibility quickly risk being perceived as outdated and old-fashioned, not to mention actively rejected by job-seeking candidates and employees.

In the recruitment process, Pernille Hemmingsen emphasises the importance of organisations being able to present a clear strategy for managing flexible working days. “This is crucial for both attracting and retaining talent, but also for maintaining a good working environment and a strong community, even with physical distance.” Today, employees and candidates are looking for more than just a job; they are looking for a place where work is meaningful and where there is room for an informal and spontaneous work culture. The challenge is to systematise flexible working without losing the sense of cohesion and community that can disappear when physical presence in the office is reduced.

The social aspect of work has become increasingly important and places new demands on managers. Rasmus Meyhoff points out that a lack of distance management skills has been a challenge for many managers who are not trained for this new reality. While many are adapting, problematic situations and potential conflicts arise, especially among those who favour a more traditional approach. Rasmus Meyhoff emphasises that successful adaptation requires an effort to meet the needs of employees and maintain a strong mutual understanding.

In a time when the market is slowing down and companies are looking to minimise costs, social activities are often de-prioritised. However, Rasmus Meyhoff warns that this is a short-term strategy that can create a negative spiral and worsen workplace relationships. He points out that “investing in social relationships and a unique company culture is crucial to retaining talent.” This leads us to the discussion of generational change in the labour market, where understanding and adapting to new ways of working is becoming increasingly important.

Navigate the Life Science Industry’s Dynamic Recruitment Landscape

The main challenges facing the Life Science industry in Denmark – Part 1

If you have not already read the first part of this series, then click on the link below. In this first part, we focus on the competitive recruitment environment within the Life Science industry in Denmark.

Gen Z enters the labour market

With the gradual retirement of the baby boomers and a growing presence of millennials, we are facing a significant transformation of the labour market structure, which is now starting to include Gen Z. Millennials tend to seek new job opportunities frequently as they approach the job market with a consumer-orientated approach. They seek work that is in harmony with their personal values and life goals and expect to find meaningfulness in their professional lives. This is also true for Gen Z, who place even more emphasis on sustainability principles, such as those found within the ESG agenda.

Sustainability is not only a key factor in society at large; it is also significantly shaping organisations’ recruitment strategies. Companies must navigate shifting behavioural patterns to effectively attract Gen Z, a generation that prioritises sustainability and is driven by motivational factors that differ significantly from previous generations. Our own graduate research shows that 32% prioritise a workplace where they can work on a product, they are passionate about, highlighting the importance of offering meaningful and value-driven job opportunities to appeal to this group. This emphasis on sustainability marks part of an extensive generational shift in the labour market, which we have highlighted in our Whitepaper;

This generational shift, combined with the increasing focus on sustainability, presents a critical dimension that organisations must address in their recruitment strategies to remain relevant and attractive to today’s workforce.

The trends have taken root

The changes we have observed in the candidate market over the past few years have really taken root and can now be defined as the new normal. To successfully navigate this landscape, it is crucial for organisations to develop and support strong leadership that can meet the individual needs and ambitions of candidates. Leaders need to be flexible and customise work and career planning to the individual, while also being able to lead from a distance when necessary.

It is further recommended that working from home is systematised in a way that ensures the desired flexibility for employees while maintaining the essential sense of community in the workplace. This requires a clear and well-thought-out strategy where physical distance does not become an obstacle to strong working relationships and a dynamic work environment.

In conclusion, it is clear that the organisations that effectively meet and adapt to these modern work demands will be the ones that thrive, attract, and retain talent. Therefore, it is crucial that companies not only recognise but also proactively respond to the changing dynamics of the labour market. By doing so, they will secure a competitive position in the battle for talent and maintain their status as attractive workplaces now and in the future.

Effective Recruitment – Break Down the Barriers

The main challenges facing the Life Science industry in Denmark – Part 3

In this third and final article in the series, you can read about the organisational barriers that hinder organisations’ ability to recruit effectively.

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