Quintiles boosts work force

Quintiles Transnational provides professional services in drug development, financial partnering, and commercialization for the biotech and healthcare industries. The 17,000-employee global company had been growing, but retention was an issue.

Quintiles Transnational provides professional services in drug development, financial partnering, and commercialization for the biotech and healthcare industries. The 17,000-employee global company had been growing, but retention was an issue.

"We weren't doing a good job [communicating] what it's like to work for us," says Steve Brechbiel, director of global HR communications.

Unique messaging would help differentiate Quintiles and attract "young, energetic [talent]," says Lisa Ward, Capstrat account director.

Strategy

Clear, consistent messaging about the work and the company's mission was needed to improve retention and attract talent.

"Perhaps we hadn't given [new employees] a realistic picture of our expectations," Brechbiel explains. "That needed to be addressed by the campaign and our behavior during interviewing and [the] onboarding process."

He adds, "The overriding message [from employees] was this is not easy work, [but] it's very rewarding." So the effort took on the tagline "Work Worth Doing."

Branding efforts would help "connect employees [and potential hires] to [the] higher sense of purpose, [which is] helping speed the process of getting medicine to people," Ward notes.

Tactics

The look and feel of "Work Worth Doing" branding was developed in recruitment collateral materials (brochures, Web pages, and ads), which were distributed to HR managers, to job posting sites, and for trade show displays. Questions, such as "How can my work make a difference?" and "How does a company care for employees?" were used to grab attention and provided platforms to discuss the company.

Animated vignettes were created for the careers section of the Web site and also distributed to all HR departments. Called "Day in the life," they featured employees talking about their work and why they stay at Quintiles.

"We [used] South Park-[style] animation to make them fun and bring in creativity [to engage] viewers," Ward says.

The team sent out more than 100 re-recruitment cards inviting "former star employees" back.

Retention elements included branded promotional materials for an online training program, a new corporate concierge service, a microsite for employees to nominate peers for recognition, and a benefits mailer.

Results

New-hire retention has increased 26% over 2006. Overall retention has improved nearly 8% over the past 18 months. Between March and July, page visits to Quintiles' careers site increased 38%, and individual candidate applications increased 39%.

"We literally came from nowhere into a well-defined, good-performing, unique campaign that does differentiate us and has gained notice in the marketplace," notes Brechbiel.
Ward adds that the vignettes unexpectedly boosted morale.

"Employees say [the vignettes] say something about the work environment - a good thing," Brechbiel says.

Re-recruitment cards exceed-ed expectations with an 11% response rate (seven people were hired).

Future

The campaign will continue, expanding into branding internal training efforts, and into new and social media.

PR team: Quintiles Transnational (Durham, NC) and Capstrat (Raleigh, NC)

Campaign: Work Worth Doing recruitment and retention

Duration: September 2006 - ongoing

Budget: $40,000 for initial branding and strategy

PRWeek's view

The campaign provided a solid start to correcting inconsistent messaging and inadequate communication. From a recruitment standpoint, the creativity of the vignettes is particularly good - they're a nice break from the rather staid, conservative messaging of Quintiles competitors, and they communicate real substance about the company while also striking an attractive tone for its target audience. That they improved morale indicates that the team is on the right track.

Retention is another matter. Consistent branding - even if it is around the worthiness of the job - will only go so far. A close, hard look at issues (beyond inconsistent and inadequate communication) underlying the problem followed by implemented changes would probably help further improve retention.

 

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