HR policy improvements that will help attract scientific researchers to work for your university

At the heart of a successful academic institution lies a skilled and dedicated workforce. To attract capable research staff, universities strive to present themselves as desirable employers. But this means understanding what motivates academic staff, and using these factors as building blocks to position their employer brand. As it turns out, the vision and the reality don’t always match up.

A strike by academic faculty and staff in late 2019 saw more than 40,000 workers from 60 universities across the UK protest against issues such as salary and pension cuts, the gender pay gap, and unstable work contracts. Globally relevant institutions like the University of Durham, the University of Manchester, University College London, and the University of Cambridge all participated.
Do you need to attract and recruit top scientific research talent to work for your organization? ResearchGate?Scientific Recruitment Solutions?can help you.

A wakeup call — and what to do about it?

Events such as these are a wakeup call for universities across the world: if academic institutions wish to recruit and retain talented researchers, they must consider and respect researchers’ needs.

A ResearchGate survey of 10,000 international scientists sheds light on what these academic professionals care about when looking for new career opportunities — with a view to helping organizations get to know their professional audience, attract top scientific talent, and help their employees satisfy their personal and professional aspirations.

Attract scientific talent by promoting your university's attractive HR policies.
Attract scientific talent by promoting your university's attractive HR policies.

Scientists are passionate, but salary matters?

According to our report, salary is the most employment factor for academic researchers when deciding where to apply for a new role. The opportunity to take part in meaningful work within their field of study is also highly valued, and so is the chance to participate in impactful research, indicating that academics are passionate about their work. Nonetheless, salary remains “very important” to 45% of respondents, while 18% and 32% deem it, respectively, “extremely” and “somewhat important”.?

Academic staff salaries tend to be predetermined by country, so universities can rarely increase their offer to appeal to top candidates. However, starting an open dialogue about salary can help spark the candidate’s interest and fast-track the hiring process. For example, universities should indicate a salary bracket in the actual job description. Making a concrete offer early-on can also make an opportunity more appealing than one where the salary is shrouded in mystery until the final stages.?

On a positive note, our research shows 64% of global scientists are satisfied with their current salary, highlighting that while it is an important factor, it’s not the be-all and end-all for researchers.?

Support researchers' lives outside the lab?

Scientists are invested in their work and want to contribute to advancements within their research field. However, when looking for a new job, they want to know their future employer will help them enjoy their time at that institution and realize their non-professional goals too.

According to our study, employee benefits such as holiday or healthcare coverage, and family-friendly policies like parental leave or flexible hours, rank third and fourth among the employment factors considered most significant by scientific researchers.

While the nature of the work they carry out is important to them, so is the quality of the life they lead while working at an institution.

Promote great HR policy in scientific job ads

Universities should leverage their attractive employee benefit packages when creating job ads or discussing vacancies with potential candidates. Of course, ambitious scientists will always look for innovative research work and career progression. But promoting an attractive set of employee perks can help seal the deal.

Naturally, your university wants to attract outstanding researchers. So, to build your employer brand, don’t just showcase exciting research projects and growth opportunities, but rather the whole package. Work-life balance is becoming more of a priority in the corporate sector, and academia should not be afraid to learn from this and use it to their advantage.?
With 15+ million researchers and 120 million scientific publications, ResearchGate is the world’s leading professional network for scientists. Scientists use the platform to accelerate their research work, and research institutions rely on the platform to build top performing teams in science.