After winning a contract to build a new line of drug products, Regeneron needed to quickly double its staff by hiring more than 350 employees, primarily qualified scientists, who were hard to find in a short period of time.
Kenexa conducted a study of culture fit to come up with the Regeneron 5, a list of statements that captures the essence of the company’s employment brand, and then Regeneron used three different solutions to accomplish its goals.
- Met recruitment goals, ahead of schedule, by recruiting for fit
- Fulfilled employee recruitment contract, ahead of schedule, enabling company to meet their business requirements
- Improved recruitment branding has increased job attraction of highly passionate and engaged scientists and non-scientists
From experiencing exponential growth to keeping the cultural cornerstone through a very scientific discovery
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines for the treatment of serious illnesses. Based in Tarrytown, N.Y., Regeneron employs more than 1,700 people.
For years, Regeneron’s reputation for cutting-edge science attracted established pharmaceutical companies to partner with the small biotech firm to discover and develop pharmaceutical products. However, when Regeneron entered into a sweeping collaboration with Sanofi to develop new drug candidates using Regeneron’s highly regarded human monoclonal antibody technology, the company was faced with an extraordinary staffing challenge. With support from IBM, Regeneron met the challenge head on by growing its employee base over 50 percent the first year and nearly tripling in size over the first, four-plus years of the 10-year agreement.
The agreement Regeneron entered into with Sanofi was one of the largest in the history of the biotech industry, worth $1.5 billion in research funding and perhaps as much or more in potential development funding for drug candidates that advance in clinical trials.
The challenge: attracting great scientists – fast
- IBM® Kenexa® Recruitment Services
- IBM® Kenexa® Employment Branding
- IBM® Kenexa® BrassRing on Cloud
In order to fulfill its agreement with Sanofi, Regeneron needed to quickly hire more than 350 employees, primarily in research and development.
However, hiring so many highly trained scientists is no easy task. Great scientists are typically hard to land because the very best are in high demand. Top scientists tend to stick with the same company to see through completion the results from the particular scientific programs with which they have been affiliated. Programs, if successful, continue for many years. Typically, it takes 10-15 years from the discovery of a drug candidate to approval, although many drugs wash out in clinical trials. Regeneron officials knew they would have a difficult time attracting enough scientists in a tight timeframe using their existing recruiting processes to meet the demands of the contract.
“We were coming off a period of very slow hiring, and we had a ‘maintenance’ staffing plan in place when we entered negotiations with Sanofi,” said Ross Grossman, Vice President of Human Resources at Regeneron. “We were pretty well known in scientific circles, so, in small numbers at least, for a scientist job we just had to say we had an opening and it had been easy to fill the position. Then in 2007, when we signed a huge collaboration with Sanofi, we had to hire a large number of scientists all at once. All of a sudden, a company under 700 employees needed to hire 350 people. We had to rethink all of our processes, with a particular emphasis on hiring scientists.”
The solution: harnessing the science of fit
Regeneron engaged IBM to study the culture of the company, develop a plan to hire employees who would thrive in the organization, and come up with a solution to attract a large number of scientists.
To discover the culture of the company, IBM interviewed key executives and top managers to determine Regeneron’s values and behaviors. IBM discovered Regeneron had a very unique culture, one built by scientists who were extremely passionate about their work. Scientists who thrived at Regeneron pushed the envelope, sought new ways to discover new drugs, and cared deeply about innovation.
Once the company’s culture was uncovered, IBM used the information to develop a simple set of value statements that described the employees of Regeneron and, as it turned out, the employment brand of the company. These five value statements became known as the Regeneron 5:
- Science drives our business, and passion drives our science.
- We are a select team.
- You will be challenged. Every day.
- That’s the way we’ve always done it is the wrong answer.
- We won’t let bureaucracy block good ideas.
“The light bulb Kenexa helped us turn on was the importance of our culture in attracting and retaining good people, as well as the role of focusing in a very disciplined way to retain our culture as we eventually tripled in size,” Grossman said. “The branding turned out to be transformational for us because we ended up being able to build our processes around what we learned about our culture. The employment brand was so meaningful that, for a few years, it actually became the company’s brand. That was very critical.”
IBM’s employment branding team created visuals that contained these value statements, and Regeneron displayed them throughout the company. It also used internal communication vehicles that featured employees who embodied the Regeneron 5.
Regeneron used IBM® Kenexa® BrassRing on Cloud applicant tracking system and IBM® Kenexa® Recruitment Services to help attract scientists who would thrive in the culture of the company.
The results: attracting the right candidate equals profit
Regeneron started using the Regeneron 5 in its recruitment campaigns that challenged potential candidates to decide if they were passionate and innovative enough to work for the company. In addition, using these value statements enabled Regeneron to simplify its processes and target specific candidates who would better fit in the culture of the organization, under the assumption that employees who were attracted to the Regeneron 5 would be less likely to behave in ways that undermined its culture.
This unique approach to recruiting not only enabled Regeneron to meet its goal of hiring more than 350 scientists in a short period of time, it also helped prepare to recruit more than a thousand new employees in subsequent years.
“If you look at our career site, if you come into our buildings, go into our orientation, go almost anywhere on our campus, you see the Regeneron 5 everywhere,” said Grossman.
With a full staff, Regeneron was able to fulfill its contract with Sanofi before the deadline, enabling the company to beat revenue and profitability goals.
Regeneron continues to attract quality scientists and, increasingly, other types of employees who want to work for the company. Recruiting efforts are easier because candidates now approach Regeneron to learn more about the organization and to see if they would be a good fit.