Ways to Motivate Employees in Life Sciences

ways to motivate employees

Embodying the principles of strategic leadership, as any manager will know, leading a team is easier if they are motivated to be successful.

However, achieving this is far more complex than it sounds, and becomes particularly difficult when an external crisis is thrown into the mix.

Having spent more than 20 years recruiting within the life science sector, we’ve partnered with multiple successful leaders from many backgrounds and have observed a few commonalities in how they engender collaboration, loyalty, and motivation across their teams.

Here are some of their top tips on how to keep employees moving in the same direction.


1. Create and Articulate a Vision

One of the most practical ways to motivate employees is to establish an overall vision that everyone can work towards.

Most organisations will have values and goals in place, but it’s not something that can be simply written down on a poster or in a training manual – it needs to be regularly discussed and championed so that it can have a direct effect on the workplace.

It might be through meetings, company events, KPIs or objective-setting. Either way, how the vision is delivered will have a significant impact on its success.When people are clear on the destination (and have the tools to get there), they’ll be more likely to help bring that vision to life. Try to get in the habit of actively seeking employees’ thoughts and opinions too.

The company vision doesn’t need to appeal to everyone but should be addressed in the hiring process to try to ensure every new hire is aware of and engaged from the offset.

While the vision could be for the company as a whole, in some cases this won’t be as relevant to individual employees, so limiting it to a sub-unit or team may have more of an impact.

Regardless, be sure to incorporate a degree of innovation into the vision. What has become clear to us is that a forward focus is one of the key attributes that employees are looking for in a new employer.

2. Foster Open Communication

Creating a culture of open communication is key. Although there are obviously some things that need to be kept confidential, whenever possible, it’s important to share what’s going on with the team. 

Not only will this help to make people feel appreciated but will give them a sense that their opinions are valid. It also allows you to take a pulse on new ideas, as employees are much more likely to share their thoughts in a workplace that values openness and honesty.

The same goes for communication around a person’s career. The more open a manager is with their team, the more comfortable employees are about raising career issues. It might even be a desire to move jobs or companies. 

However, discussing any issues before someone reaches the final stages of moving on means managers have the chance to respond or take action where appropriate, as well as evaluating the most beneficial move for all parties.

3. Embrace Individuality

We all know that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for others. You might have employees at different stages of their life, some that need to be pushed and others that are more interested in new challenges, projects or opportunities for professional development.

We’re not necessarily suggesting tailored motivational plans, but leaders must understand the tendencies, aptitudes and behaviours of team members well-enough to work with and motivate them effectively.

4. Offer a Challenge

Not everyone wants to be challenged, but most employees are more engaged in their work when they have the chance to try new things or move a little outside their comfort zones.

Where possible, look for opportunities for people to gain exposure to new areas either upwards or sideways in the business, such as by having a junior manager sit-in or present in the monthly management meeting.

With so many personal development opportunities now available online, facilitating or encouraging an employee to undertake self-study is a favourite of many managers we speak with. These have the added benefit of preventing people from becoming bored, as they are stimulated by ideas they may not have encountered elsewhere.

5. Approach Meetings Carefully

Lastly, perhaps one of the most underrated methods of motivating employees is something that we’ve all experienced over time: prepared and productive meetings.

Meetings are an essential part of business, however, many people who come to us looking for a new job complain of being subjected to ineffective or unnecessary meetings in previous roles.

No one wants employees to see meetings as an infringement of their time, so it’s imperative to develop the discipline to plan and lead the type of meetings that people value, an environment where they are more likely to contribute and push initiatives forward.


These are only a few of the ideas on how to motivate employees, keep them engaged with their work, and crucially, how to retain them in the long term. Every business is unique, so our advice is to start with the steps that seem easiest to implement and build up from there.

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