3 Ways to Thrive in Laboratory Management

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3 Ways to Thrive in Laboratory Management
Tony Blick

3 Ways to Thrive in Laboratory Management

Tony Blick, Synergy, explore the impact skills shortages are having on laboratories today, and provide 3 key ways to support the most significant challenges faced in laboratory management.

Key insights:

  • 75% of lab leaders say skills and expertise gaps are their greatest challenge
  • Lab management is broadening in scope
  •  Laboratory managers need to rethink talent access, management and development 

Last year, we surveyed lab leaders from across the wider pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors to find out more about their strategic objectives over 2023.75% of lab leaders cited skills and expertise gaps as their laboratories highest ranking challenge. Today, in my experience at Synergy, we’re seeing more and more lab managers having a greater breadth of responsibilities as skills shortages and talent scarcity put pressure on teams.

In this article, I’ll explore the impact skills shortages are having on laboratories today, and provide 3 key ways to support the most significant challenges faced in laboratory management today.

The impact of skills shortages in the lab 

In our Lab Leaders Survey, leaders said skills shortages were limiting their competitive advantage. One respondent explains, “meeting very diverse and growing demands of clients with finite equipment, resources and limits to the knowledge of staff” as a significant hurdle.

Others explained general technical and expertise gaps block efficiency in the lab, especially as automation and digitalisation accelerates. 

When skills shortages have this sort of impact, lab managers face an immense pressure to step up to preserve project delivery and meet department objectives.

In my experience, this leads to lab managers becoming stretched across a number of functions, often leading to increased working hours, heightened stress levels, and an inevitable decrease in engagement, all of which in turn can increase risks and affect decision making capabilities in a GMP environment. 

Alongside this, this trend also places pressure on talent attraction and talent management practices, as laboratory managers face limited time to invest in, and develop talent – all of which culminates in a cycle of disengagement, turnover and heightened costs. 

3 ways to thrive as a lab manager

1. Inspire and align staff according to their strengths and potential

Cultivate career pathways where staff can realise their ambitions in the laboratory, and tailor mentorship and upskilling according to staff interests that complement operational objectives.

An effective way to do this is through job crafting. Job crafting refers to making small changes within the boundaries and conditions of a job to draw on strengths and improve the quality of work. 

Research conducted throughout the pandemic found that 92% of employees who job crafted during the pandemic had more job satisfaction and a 29% decrease in their stress levels. In the laboratory, job crafting can offer leaders  an actionable strategy to enhance employee experience and limit turnover. 

2. Explore external services that provide access to dynamic skill sets

While external service providers like contract research organisations (CROs) are often off-site, on-site service providers like Synergy can help expand teams within a department enabling labs to increase service capacity while benefiting from deploying expertise on-site, and freeing up scientific teams to focus away from the bench.

Working with one our recent partners, the Synergy team identified, hired and developed our deployed junior managers to match our client objectives, enabling us to work together more efficiently and effectively to meet better outcomes faster. This has resulted in our deployed managers lifting work from our partner’s internal managers and taking on more responsibilities with less contact – helping to return vital time back. 

We’ve recruited further teams of deployed scientific staff with complimentary skills to further broaden our capabilities in the team. All the while, we continue to develop all deployed staff through continuous improvement initiatives based around job crafting to create a motivated, and engaged workforce with the right training to take on more.

3. Rethink candidate pipelines

Skills gaps are rooted in communication gaps between industry, and academia. Bridging this gap means working together with academic institutions, whether that be a university or college, and empowering educators with the knowledge, and resources to effectively bridge these gaps before candidates enter the job market.

At Synergy, we work alongside SRG to access an extensive and diverse scientific candidate network, while also participating in STEM mentorship programmes with schools to unlock access to early talent and empower the next generation of scientists today. 

Find out more about working with Synergy

Synergy is a scientific service specialist providing teams that boost laboratory capability, potential and efficiency, from within. 

We help clinical laboratories overcome key industry challenges, and bolster resource strength with specialist talent, who are sourced, managed and developed by us.

Get in touch with our team at: synergyqueries@srgtalent.com and find out how we can support you.

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