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Science Matters: Survey Reveals Loyalty and Engagement Levels

As scientists focus on obtaining career success, managers can improve the morale in their organizations by providing effective training programs, positive feedback, and open and honest communication to their employees.

by Diane Barker
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In late 2009 and early 2010, more than 3,500 science professionals worldwide responded to an annual workplace survey created by Kelly Services, Inc.

Nearly 25 percent of the survey respondents indicated that the global recession has improved employee loyalty, as many science professionals continue to focus on attaining long-term careers within their current organizations and laboratories.

The survey, known as the Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI), revealed that managers who use strong morale boosters and open lines of communication tend to improve employee loyalty and commitment levels across many industries, including science.

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As scientists focus on obtaining career success, managers can improve the morale in their organizations by providing effective training programs, positive feedback, and open and honest communication to their employees. In doing so, managers will likely retain their employees on a long-term basis and prepare them for career and organizational success well into the future.

Survey findings – employee loyalty levels

In order to understand the ways in which employee loyalty and engagement levels compare and contrast in accordance with age and work experience, Kelly Services’ KGWI obtained the views of a wide range of science professionals across three generations: Generation Y (aged 18 to 29), Generation X (aged 30 to 47), and the Baby Boomer generation (aged 48 to 65).

The following survey findings reveal the loyalty levels of science professionals of all ages and work experiences across the nation:

  • Twenty-four percent of all respondents feel “more loyal” to their organizations now than they did before the recession began.
  • Loyalty levels did not significantly vary across different generational groups. Twenty-five percent of Generation Y respondents are currently more loyal to their organizations, slightly higher than Generation X respondents (24 percent) and Baby Boomer respondents (22 percent).
  • Positive management and company morale, as well as availability of effective training and development programs, tend to improve employee loyalty levels.

Scientists develop renewed loyalty

In addition to impacting employees around the world, the recent economic recession affected a wide range of scientific organizations and laboratories. Many companies experienced layoffs, budget cuts and organizational profit losses. Yet, in spite of these changes, many presently employed scientists have developed a strong sense of loyalty to their companies.

So, why are some scientists more loyal to their organizations? According to the survey, positive, yet realistic managers tend to improve the morale of their employees by providing a clear understanding of the organization’s future and identifying areas in which employees can further develop their skills.

In addition to positive management, organizations should also offer ample training opportunities to their employees, as well as pay and benefits that reflect employees’ work experiences. Finally, some science professionals’ on-the-job performances tend to improve when they are recognized and rewarded for their work. To recognize employees, managers can award anniversary gifts to loyal scientists in celebration of significant milestones or provide additional vacation time to high performers.

By leading in a positive, yet realistic manner, training employees on a long-term basis, providing adequate pay and benefits, and recognizing employees for their dedication and service, managers will likely be able to improve the loyalty levels of their employees during the coming months and years.

Survey findings – employee engagement levels

In the meantime, the following findings were uncovered in regard to scientists’ current engagement levels:

  • Forty-five percent of all survey respondents within the scientific industry are “totally committed” to their current organizations and laboratories.
  • Forty-eight percent of all Generation X survey respondents are totally committed to their current employers, compared to 47 percent of Baby Boomer respondents and 41 percent of Generation Y respondents.
  • More interesting and challenging work—as well as higher salary and benefits, improved training programs, and enriched work-life balance—will likely improve employee engagement levels.
  • Some employees’ engagement levels are also impacted by the reputations of their organizations. Forty-seven percent of all Baby Boomer respondents believe that corporate reputation is important to their decision about whether to join or remain with an organization, in comparison to 37 percent of Generation X respondents and 26 percent of Generation Y respondents.

Scientists need challenging and meaningful work

As managers strive to maintain the interest, focus, and motivation of their employees, they need to realize that a variety of elements, ranging from high salary and adequate benefits to effective training programs and meaningful responsibility, seem to improve employee engagement. Yet, according to the survey, scientists must have interesting and challenging work above all else—even high salaries!

It seems that many scientists thrive when they have opportunities to live out their passions while also working to improve the lives of their fellow human beings. Without meaningful, valuable work, scientists’ commitments to their positions and organizations may diminish.

Scientists desire to work for reputable organizations

Finally, 81 percent of all survey respondents believe that organizational reputation is either a “very important” or “somewhat important” factor in deciding whether to continue to work within an organization or to leave. Without a doubt, highly motivated and competitive employees are typically attracted to organizations that have their best interests in mind. As scientists work to improve the lives of others, they want to be employed by organizations that hope to do the same.

In addition, as scientists pursue employment opportunities within other organizations or promotions in their current companies, they will also be concerned with one key organizational characteristic—quality. Scientists desire to work for organizations that develop quality products and provide quality services. If organizations want to thrive amidst the current realties of the global economy, they will need to hire highly qualified employees and managers.

By providing quality within and outside the confines of their company headquarters, organizations will not only will become well-known within the science industry as good corporate citizens, but they will also continue to attract top talent.

As organizations focus on the future, they will be able to maintain a high level of success as long as they continue to remain engaged with their workforces. In return, scientists will likely become more loyal to and engaged with their organizations in the future. As a result, such scientists will continue to perform to the best of their abilities, as they hope to not only improve the lives of others, but also impact the well-being of the organizations in which they work.

Be on the lookout. This year’s Lab Manager Magazine – Kelly Scientific Fourth Annual Salary and Employee satisfaction survey will be arriving in your e-mail inboxes this month. Visit if you would like to take the survey now. Based on your participation, we will once again provide the most up-to-date snapshot of how you and your peers are currently faring in terms of wages and job satisfaction. Results of the survey will be published in the October 2010 issue. Make sure you’re represented.