Finding qualified scientific staff in any industry is quite a challenge. From a shortfall in STEM educated graduates to aging technical personnel who are being outpaced by technological advances it is becoming increasingly difficult to hire and retain the scientists most companies require. A recent report by global management consultants, McKinsey & Company, predicts a shortfall of some 16 to 18 million college-educated workers throughout North America and Europe in 2020.

The inability to recruit new scientists can cause problems in maintaining current standards not to mention increasing innovation across processes and product lines. Attrition due to retirement or staff moving to competitors exacerbates the problem, so it is important to maintain scientific staffing levels across all levels.

While there is a shortage of qualified scientific candidates available there is also an overall shortage of jobs across the western world which leads to Human Resources being bombarded with unsolicited resumes from unqualified or unrelated applicants. Nor is it easy to approach candidates directly when they are currently employed by competitors nor to identify prospective talent from universities and colleges. Selection can be improved by scanning job posting/aggregator sites such as to fill vacant positions but, again this can be quite time consuming to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Perhaps the best answer is to retain a professional, industry-specific search firm to shoulder the grunt work and present the hiring party with a selection of more finely tuned candidates. Recruiting companies, such as our very own OPUS International, specialists in the Food and Beverage industry, have usually built up a huge list of industry and educational contacts from which it may be possible to supply a selection of qualified candidates for positions ranging from entry level to CEO.

Lowering attrition rates and retaining specialist scientific staff is effective in reducing the time and costs involved in training replacements and getting them up to the same level as the departed personnel. So how do you retain your scientific super stars once you have hired them? While financial remuneration is a major factor, surprisingly perhaps, it is not necessarily the biggest one. Studies have found that employees who feel valued for the role they play in an organization are more likely to remain, above compensatory considerations. Together with fair wages, guaranteed working hours, flexibility and healthcare for self and dependents are also contributing factors to loyalty and length of service. Good employees also thrive when the job presents a challenge and if they feel valued if they rise to such challenges and are boosted when there are opportunities for personal and professional growth and development.  Retention is not harmed if the employee believes that his work is having a positive effect on the lives of others, either.

Employers can play a major role in employee retention by creating a positive work environment and providing ongoing opportunities for learning and development. Good working conditions and a focus on company values also helps as does celebrating company success and rewarding individual achievements.  Employees who are happy in their work will remain longer and ensuring they are supported in in the aligned goals of company and individual is essential. It doesn’t hurt to include the individual in the decision-making process to enhance the sense of belonging.

OPUS International, Inc. has earned an impeccable reputation for retained and contingency search services to the Food and Beverage industry for more than 25 years. Woman owned, the company has specialized in higher level scientific and managerial positions as high as Presidents and CEOs of several well-known clients and brands. President Moira McGrath has sat on many university and scientific society advisory boards and is well respected throughout the industry and relevant university circles.

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