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Unless you’ve avoided all the studies, gurus, and TED talks about the importance of company culture, you will understand the link between business culture and business success. But how does it influence the decision-making process when choosing a vendor for your clinical outsourcing needs?

As a people-focused Clinical Research Organisation and B Corp certified business, we understand just how valuable culture and employee engagement is. Culture and employee engagement play a key role in our long term, global business strategy because we’ve seen the results first-hand.

When it comes to vendor selection in the pharma space, conversations often revolve around cost/budgeting, quality of work, and on-time delivery. Although these are valid considerations, the concept of “who” you’re potentially about to sign a contract with should be just as high on the list.

After all, how can you ascertain an overall level of quality without truly knowing who you’re working with? Our Chief Business Officer, Stuart McGuire, believes in seeking answers to these questions as early as possible: 

Why not take the opportunity, at the vendor selection stage, to bring some of the operational team members together to ensure a match of values and communication styles? By sitting down together and meeting face to face, we can all get a more genuine understanding of one another’s working style.

Stuart McGuire, Chief Business Officer

The ultimate success of a project relies, to a great extent, on the day-to-day members of the operational team you’re working with. The way in which people work as a team, how they treat each other, and how they’re valued by their own leaders will drastically influence cost, quality and efficiency within a study. 

Companies with a strong company culture are 89% more likely to report high customer satisfaction

PwC

Gauging company culture in those early conversations

It’s clear to see when a business says it has a great culture and when it actually does. A company with a positive culture and high employee engagement often has cultural initiatives driven at all levels of the business. Flat hierarchies and open-door communication policies streamline communication, while inclusivity and diversity are high priorities. 

Employee engagement is also recorded through regular, anonymous employee surveys – something Veramed has done for years through its Pulse surveys.

It’s also more than just industry certifications, awards, and plaques in the office. How people lead their teams plays a major role in employee happiness, productivity, and quality of work. A recent Gallup study found that 70% of the variance in employee engagement is directly related to the manager. In another study from Arbinger, 46% of leaders say culture drives improvements in areas critical to growth such as employee productivity, retention and engagement. Leadership teams that embrace company culture often see better results, and those results arguably translate into long term client relationships and high levels of customer satisfaction. How do we know this? Because we’ve recorded it ourselves – see our 2022 impact report for more information.

A big issue many pharmaceutical companies face is a misunderstanding or even a misalignment over company culture.

Rescue studies are a common occurrence in the bio-pharma industry. When first signing with a vendor, optimism is high and due diligence on cost and capabilities have all been made – what could go wrong? While many factors can come into play in that equation, communication and effective collaboration between the vendor and sponsor can be a common oversight. We’ve seen multiple studies where the partnership worked on paper but not in practice. Communication, collaboration, and how teams operate is intrinsically linked to culture and the issue comes back to that core need to understand exactly “who” you’re working with. 

Investing in cultural initiatives

If leadership plays a key role in setting the culture, then what comes next? At Veramed, we believe it is investing in our employees. During those early conversations, find out if the vendor truly invests in its employees. Do they provide mental health support, training development, and other culture initiatives that give employees opportunities to grow or embrace their work environment? Our Impact report summarises the work our Culture Club does to support our employees and to promote and celebrate diversity across the business.

Our Chief People Officer, Tom Seymour, plays an integral role in the development of employee-focused initiatives at Veramed where the goal is not only to create a happy work environment but also a productive and meaningful one that helps us maintain our 95%+ retention rate.

Our relationship with partners is a reflection of our internal culture. If our employees thrive then we often find that our clients and partners do too

Tom Seymour, Chief People Officer

Building long term relationships through cultural alignment

When selecting a vendor, trust is vital. Building trust and forging a strong working relationship comes from a partnership that has been thoughtfully set up and then well managed. There’s a mutual understanding of the objectives and timelines, along with clear communication and effective governance, all built on a strong foundation of company culture. These trusted partnerships can then flourish over time. We have had a number of consultancy contracts that have evolved and grown from small ad hoc pieces of work to become full FSP partnerships, and our culture has always played a key part in that growth. 

A company’s culture is also contagious. Whether it’s good or bad, the way in which a vendor works can influence your own team and processes. Veramed have worked with fantastic companies in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, and have adopted and shared many cultural initiatives over the years. 

Whether it’s small initiatives driven by employees or strategic investment in employee growth from the leadership team, the way in which a company approaches its own culture should be a key consideration in vendor decision-making. What level of importance will you put on company culture within vendor selection? And how will your team reflect on what you see? 

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Veramed