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    Whether you are at C-Suite, a hiring manager or a prospective candidate; a deciding factor in choosing a business or making a hire is heavily based on cultural fit. Culture is incredibly powerful, even more so than the science being cultivated in the four walls of an organisation. It can make or break the future of your business, or the tenure of your career. At Apsida, we thoroughly believe that our culture reflects our day to day behaviors and attitude to our work. In this article, we are going to share with you applicable methods to keep brand new, and longer-standing employees engaged by using culture as the driving force.

    Encourage from day #1 to voice ideas 

    Opinions are important, but can often be overlooked without realising, leaving employees to build resentment if their ideas are not being heard. Whether you are in Big Pharma, or a start-up Biotechnology, there should always be an anonymous platform to share ideas. This will enable newer members of the team to feel part of the culture, and contribute innovative ideas to embrace a more agile way of working. It also promotes fresh ideas from employees with a longer tenure to stay engaged. 

    Websites such as Suggestion Ox, CultureAmp and OfficeVibe offer platforms for employees to contribute to the culture of a business, as well as giving you real-time data on how engaged your team is. It is a non-invasive and respectful way of cultivating a positive culture, as well as eliminating politics and bias. 

    Be honest when you are growing

    Growth should be celebrated, and shows individuals inside and outside the organisation that the science is disruptive and will bring positive challenges as the business evolves. Keeping the same culture at 10 employees is easy, but once you grow past 150 people (whether this be in a department, or the wider business) the culture shifts dramatically. Robin Dunbar from Oxford University, theorised that humans can maintain personal relationships with 150 people. Past that point, it becomes difficult and explains why in larger organisations there is a bureaucratic culture, needing more sign-offs for projects as well as eliminating a family feel. 

    Now, there are individuals that thrive in this type of environment, but if you are anticipating growth past the 100 person mark, it is time to have an honest conversation with prospective and current employees. This means you can forward plan and predict how they are going to respond to the change. Honesty will make your hiring process more transparent, and if individuals leave during the growth period – you have prepared for such change. This can be done simply through one to one conversations or weekly meetings addressing the new hires being made. Getting feedback from your current employees about the growth can also highlight how the workforce feels internally, and can help navigate how to grow. 

    This can be a difficult conversation to have, but it will cultivate the right culture and show that the company or department is embracing the change for its positives and negatives; rather than growing rapidly and potentially losing loyal employees.

    Values form the basis of your culture

    Whether you are a company of 150 people, or a department of 150 people, each area will have set values that should always stay the same, no matter what stage the business is at. You could be ready to go in to phase one trials, or at the stage of commercialisation; the values should be ingrained from start to finish. This will either motivate or demotivate current employees, and will be used as a candidate attraction tool for growth. 

    Employees that are aligned with the company values perform better and will have longer tenure, going above and beyond on assignments. Quarterly performance reviews are a useful tool to converse with employees and teams on how the business values align with the employees short, medium and long-term goals. 

    Simple practices such as intertwining company values into morning meetings and company wide events can remind employees what they are working towards; as well as having an open-door policy for employees to voice when they may not feel that the decisions being made are true to the values of the business. This is a frank way of operating, and there are other tools within the aforementioned anonymous surveys that can be implemented to measure this, if the personal conversations do not make employees feel comfortable to open up. 

    In summary…

    If you are looking to build on a positive and vibrant culture in 2020, we hope that these suggestions, whatever stage you are at in terms of growth or your drug pipeline can add value to your team or wider organisational culture. Small changes such as the above can impact employee engagement and sustain the business for years to come.


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