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Why Rapid Onboarding Isn't Always Right

In a world obsessed with speed, it’s no surprise that HR professionals feel the pressure to help new hires quickly become fully productive employees of an organization.

by Mark Lanfear
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“Rapid onboarding,” as it’s commonly called, is thought by many to be necessary because the faster recruits get acclimated to your system so they can do the job you’re paying them to do, the better. After all, time is money.

While I can’t argue with that logic, I believe there are other ways to achieve higher workforce efficiency and ROI. And to my way of thinking, focusing on smart talent supply chain management instead of speed may be a better solution, especially in the life science industry.

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Of course, it’s easy to see why you’d want to go for a rapid rate of return with new hires. It’s estimated that it takes 20 to 26 weeks for new executives and professionals to reach full levels of productivity, and eight weeks for clerical workers to do the same.

For any company involved in the talent recruiting and acquisition process, that two-to- six-month time frame from “date of hire” to firing on all cylinders represents a lot of capital invested up front to get talent delivering on a daily basis. Six months is certainly a long time and a lot of salary to swallow while waiting—and hoping—to see what your prized recruit or recruits can really do.

And some companies may spend months or even years searching for the “perfect candidate” to fill a position. All that preliminary fishing and courtship time spent looking for Mr. or Ms. Right is lost opportunity too.

And then what if it doesn’t work out after all that? What if, after six months on the job, that new employee decides your culture isn’t a good fit, or he or she somehow gets lured back to the last place of employment? Or what if you realize he or she really isn’t the answer you were looking for?

That’s a lot of what-ifs. And life science professionals know that all those potential pitfalls are compounded by industry realities and demands such as speed-to-market, compliance and regulation issues, and the overall complexity of lab work, especially in the areas of biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars. In this day and age of moving targets and constant change, you have to be right, right now, if you want to succeed. When a new product is in development or has to be rolled out, you might need to recruit and hire significant numbers of people at a moment’s notice to get critical work done. And many of them have to be CLIA- and GMP-certified.

So what is the better way, from my point of view? I think pivoting toward a proactive strategic workforce planning (SWP) approach makes great sense.

At KellyOCG, we see the virtue and efficacy of smart talent supply chain management every day. With a huge number of qualified freelancers, alumni, and SWP talent on tap, it’s now possible for companies to call in a right-fit workforce who can swoop in exactly when needed for either the long or short term.

This kind of consultant-based workforce brings with them the skill sets, qualifications, and fresh thinking every employer wants but might take a long time to be able to find on its own. And given that the life sciences business is evolving constantly, having the ability to tailor your workforce’s experience to the tasks at hand via strategic workforce planning makes a great deal of sense. So whether you need a strategic or a tactical focus for what’s ahead, you’ll have the ability to be flexible and efficient. That’s a win-win.

Years ago, I gave a speech at an outsourcing conference, and I asked the audience, “Who makes your favorite hamburger?” People named cheap places or expensive places, but nobody said, “I do.” And there’s a reason why—because everyone knows that there are companies that make burgers for a living and do it quickly and perfectly every time. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it … but some things are best left to professionals.

As always, I hope you’ll challenge me with your thoughts. So shoot me a note at Hope to hear from you soon.