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What Baby Boomers, Gen Xers & Millennials Value in Life Sciences Employers

7/28/2017 11:28:05 AM

What Baby Boomers, Gen Xers & Millennials Value in Life Sciences Employers August 2, 2017
By Jennifer Fink,

What Baby Boomers, Gen Xers & Millennials Value in Life Sciences Employers

The desire to do interesting and meaningful work spans generations.

In fact, according to BioSpace’s 2017 Life Sciences Ideal Employer report, 92% of baby boomers and 90% of millennials and gen Xers working in the life sciences say that interesting, life-changing work is important. All three generations also agree on the importance of a competitive salary and a good reputation.

And when it comes to Ideal Employers, the companies named by members of each generation were surprisingly similar. Genentech (RHHBY), Pfizer (PFE) and Merck (MRK) were listed in the top five of each generation’s Ideal Employer List; Roche (RHHBY), Novartis (NVS), Amgen (AMGN) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) were each among the three generations’ top 10 employers.

Yet some generational differences exist. Interest in in Google (GOOG)’s Verily Life Sciences seems to decline with age; millennial life science professionals put the company at #6 on their Ideal Employer List while gen X ranks Verily at #8 and baby boomers place Verily at #10. Similarly, Illumina (ILMN) ranks within the top 10 life sciences employers as named by millennials and falls to the top 20 when ranked by gen Xers; the company doesn’t appear on boomers’ list of ideal employers at all.

Conversely, interest in some companies appears highest amongst older workers. Johnson & Johnson, Roche and Celgene (CELG) are more popular among baby boomers than younger life sciences professionals.

Generationally Speaking

Perhaps the most actionable generational insights are those that point to each generation’s unsatisfied needs.

Millennials – people born between 1980 and 1996 -- are eager for opportunities to advance. A 2016 Gallup poll of American millennials from all walks of life found that 87% consider professional development or career growth opportunities very important in a job. Millennials in the life sciences concur. According to BioSpace’s 2017 Life Sciences Ideal Employer report, a full 84% of millennial life sciences professionals rank opportunities for promotion as important. Yet they’re not convinced that opportunity awaits – only 52% of millennials surveyed consider internal advancement a strength of life sciences companies. Companies looking to hire millennial life sciences professionals would do well to establish (and advertise) career paths and mentorships.

Gen Xers – people born between 1965 and 1980 – crave manageable working hours more than both their older and younger counterparts. Seventy-four percent of gen X life sciences professionals surveyed rate manageable working hours as important, but fewer than half (42%) consider reasonable work hours to be a strength of life sciences companies. For the many gen Xers juggling the needs of young children and aging parents, manageable working hours are more than a nice-to-have perk; they are a necessity. Companies wishing to attract or retain gen Xers should consider flexible work schedules and work-from-home arrangements, as well as paid leave for caregiving.

Generationally Speaking

Baby boomers – people born between 1946 and 1954 – want to work for a company that fits their needs. Given this generation’s penchant for individuality, it’s not surprising that most boomers want to work for companies whose culture matches their personal preferences. But they have a hard time finding a good fit at life sciences companies. Only about half – 52% -- of surveyed boomers recognize “company culture that fits my needs” as a strength of life sciences companies, meaning that many baby boomers feel out of place within the life sciences. Companies could remedy this disconnect by soliciting input from baby boomers, and using that input to shape company priorities and practices.

Each generation brings strengths to the workplace. Understanding generational priorities is the first step toward creating company cultures that respect and meet the needs of each generation.

Follow Ideal Employer news on BioSpace over the coming months as we dive deeper into this multi-faceted research and provide insights valuable to both professionals and hiring managers.

Are you building your talent pipeline? Download the full report for access to detailed insights you can use to build your workforce strategy and attract the best talent.

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