How to attract and retain talents in the life sciences industry

One similarity across markets is that staff value non-cash benefits such as flexible work arrangements and medical coverage for spouses and children.

Salaries amongst Singapore’s life sciences industry are highly competitive, according to Phaidon International - EPM Scientific's latest report. Most professionals surveyed are said to receive a yearly salary increment upon adjustment, and can expect a base salary increase of 15% to 20% when seeking new career opportunities.

The report comprises findings from over 400 life sciences professionals across Asia Pacific including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, and South Korea to create an industry compensation package benchmark.


Looking into the Singapore market, professionals value non-cash benefits, such as flexible work arrangements (i.e. in terms of hours), when making a career switch. Based on report findings, this is because working-from-home remains mostly a default arrangement for most companies which leads to "longer working hours" on average.

As such, professionals that are working as executive leadership within the industry are aiming for 21 to 27 days of paid annual leave with flexible working hours to compensate, whereas commercials professionals would expect a minimum of 14 days of paid annual leave.

On that note, analysts advice life sciences organisations in Singapore to "stay ahead of their competition" in order to better capture the right business-critical talent in the market. Hiring managers are recommended to understand what the organisation can best offer, not only in salary, but also with work-life balance options.


With regard to Malaysia, it was noted that about three in 10 (31%) life sciences professionals received 0% to 5% bonus of their annual salary, and close to all (95%) claimed to have received 6% to 20% increase on their salary from the previous year.

This, however, according to analysis, is lower than what other major cities can offer, which has caused a talent shortage in the life sciences market, compounded by senior level professionals increasingly being headhunted to relocate to other well-paying APAC markets.

Such circumstances is an indicator, that organisations need to "keep a close eye" on retaining business-critical talent, and understand "what professionals are really motivated by" in their careers.

Similar to the neighbour, salary and bonuses are not the only pull factor when it comes to attracting (or retaining) the right talent in Malaysia. Findings revealed life sciences professionals in Malaysia actually received a number of non-cash benefits, such as travel allowance (79%), company laptop (75%), medical coverage (75%), and dental coverage (43%), and would value school, housing, and car allowances as additional benefits.

"Life sciences firms should benefit from regularly reviewing compensation packages to ensure they are up to market standards," shared in the report.


As for Hong Kong, the life sciences talent market is "scarce". Hence, to boost the market, it is important that organisations are prepared to offer "a competitive package" when it comes to hiring (or retaining) top talent, especially in mid to senior levels.

At the moment, more than eight in 10 (86%) life sciences professionals in commercial roles in Hong Kong have received their yearly increments and bonuses. For the latter, it range between 5% to 30%, where the majority received bonuses between 11% to 15%. For the former, on the other hand, close to six in 10 (57%) received an average of 6% to 10% in salary increments.

As such, hiring managers should note that more professionals would request a minimum of a 20% salary increase, and a 15% annual bonus when they seek new career opportunities.

Parallel to the aforementioned markets, there is a trend (and value) in non-cash benefits such as a 13-month bonus. Latest findings revealed close to nine in 10 (89%) Hong Kong commercial professionals received medical coverage (including not just the individual, but the spouse and children as standard), company laptop/phone, dental coverage, as well as travel and car allowances.

This trend indicates that it remains "an important consideration" factor for talent, as shared in the report.

Also readGender equality in APAC: The best and the worst


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