Curiosity@Work Report | Insights by Industry
Health Care & Life Sciences
Key Findings for Health Care
- Health care/life sciences managers struggle with issues related to employee morale, retention and engagement – as well as challenges related to hiring applicants with necessary technical and interpersonal skills.
- Managers in the health care/life sciences industry recognize the value of curiosity as an intrinsic skill that will continue to become more important for employees to have and a skill that drives real business impact.
- Curiosity can help address health care/life sciences managers’ concerns. Highly valuable benefits of curiosity include more creative thinking (63%), greater efficiency (60%) and stronger collaboration (57%) within the workplace and among employees.
- Unlike most other industries, within health care/life sciences, managers across both younger (10 years old or less) and older (11-plus years old) organizations are equally likely to strongly agree that curiosity drives real business impact and that it will become a skill that is much more important to have in the future, highlighting how managers across this industry, regardless of whether they are at a newer or more established company, are aligned on the value of curiosity in employees.
- Though most managers in health care/life sciences agree curiosity is a valuable trait in employees, they are among the most likely – across industries – to believe employees and job applicants have too much of this trait (42% vs. 35% across industries), highlighting the complexity surrounding the perceived value of curiosity and the understanding and willingness to foster this trait. About half of health care/life sciences managers find it difficult to develop curiosity in employees who don’t naturally have it (47%) and connect it to job performance (47%). This suggests these managers need further guidance on how curiosity can be effectively utilized and developed in direct reports.
- About 2 in 5 (39%) managers in the health care/life sciences industry can be categorized as highly curious, on par with other industry averages. It is beneficial for managers to display high workplace curiosity because these managers exhibit greater workplace engagement and motivation and do more to encourage this valuable skill among their direct reports compared to less curious peers.
Curiosity is an increasingly valuable employee trait across industries, including health care/life sciences.
Amid the Great Resignation and current hiring frenzy, health care/life sciences managers:
- Believe curiosity is a very valuable trait in employees (68%).
- Believe curiosity is much more important for employees to have today than it was five years ago (54%).
- Strongly agree curiosity in employees drives real business impact (61%).
- Strongly agree employees who have more curiosity tend to be higher performers (48%).
Managers in the health care/life sciences industry believe curiosity is a very valuable trait across organizational levels:
- C-suite executives (59%).
- Directors and departmental leaders (54%).
- Midlevel managers (51%)
- Entry-level employees (54%).
When asked in which departments it is especially valuable for employees to have curiosity, health care/life sciences managers say:
- IT (58%).
- Research and development (49%).
Health care/life sciences managers, like their counterparts in other industries, recognize that curiosity is a skill that can address key challenges and concerns.
The top employee challenges managers in the health care/life sciences industry are facing are:
- Keeping employee morale/motivation high (61%).
- Retaining good employees (53%).
- Getting employees to push beyond just basic duties (50%).
Unlike other industries, fewer managers in health care/life sciences say they find cross-collaboration with other teams/departments a current challenge (44% vs. 50% across industries).
Managers in health care/life sciences recognize the potential benefits of curious employees:
- More creative thinking and solutions (63%).
- Greater efficiency and productivity (60%).
- Stronger collaboration and teamwork (57%).
- More flexibility and adaptability during times of uncertainty (56%).
- Greater diversity of thoughts and perspectives (55%).
- Greater employee engagement and job satisfaction (55%).
Managers at both younger and older organizations within the health care/life sciences industry recognize the significance of curiosity in employees.
Unlike in most other industries, the age of an organization does not affect its managers’ views toward curiosity. Managers across older and newer organizations are equally likely to:
- Believe curiosity is a very valuable trait (73% at companies 10 years old or less  vs. 67% at companies 11-plus years old ).
- Believe curiosity is much more important for employees to have today than it was five years ago (51% 10 years old or less vs. 56% 11-plus years).
- Strongly agree curiosity in employees drives real business impact (69% 10 years old or less vs. 56% 11-plus years old).
- Strongly agree employees who have curiosity tend to be higher performers (47% 10 years old or less vs. 48% 11-plus years old).
This suggests that within health care/life sciences, managers across companies are relatively aligned in their opinions toward curiosity and its value in employees, regardless of whether they are at a newer or more established company.
Health care/life sciences managers, like their peers in industries, note the interconnectedness of curiosity and data expertise and digital integration.
To succeed in the next three years, managers in the health care/life sciences industry need employees with:
- Technical skills in data analysis (56%) and artificial intelligence (55%).
- Personal attributes like flexibility (57%), problem solving (54%), and creative thinking (53%).
Focusing on the beneficial outcomes of curiosity, health care/life sciences managers believe it is valuable for employees to have this trait when:
- Innovating new solutions (58%).
- Tackling complex problems (52%).
- Working with and leading teams (50%).
Managers within health care/life sciences who rate high in curiosity: 
- Use an average of four different data sources in their roles vs. three for their less curious peers. 
- More often use employee data (59% vs. 46% among those who rate low in curiosity), customer data (57% vs. 46%) and performance metric data (51% vs. 41%).
These more curious managers in health care/life sciences also tend to be more advanced in their companies' integration of digital technology. Overall, 2 in 5 (44%) managers within health care/life sciences believe their companies' integration of digital technology is very advanced. However, those managers who rate high in curiosity are more likely to describe their organization as very advanced (57% vs. 32% for those who rate low in curiosity), highlighting how curiosity can help organizations adapt and become more competitive.
Curiosity is integral to workplace success and career advancement across industries – and companies across industries, and in health care/life sciences, work to foster this trait in several ways.
Companies in health care/life sciences formally include curiosity (or similar traits) in:
- Company training and development (72%).
- Employee performance review criteria (72%).
- Promotion or advancement decisions (67%).
- Hiring criteria (65%).
Managers in the health care/life sciences industry personally consider or encourage curiosity via:
- Employee performance reviews (85%).
- Hiring decisions (82%).
- Coaching or team development (81%).
- Promotion or advancement decisions (76%).
Across industries, views toward curiosity are complex. Many managers in health care/life sciences remain hesitant to encourage this trait and struggle with how to identify or develop it.
Health care/life sciences managers note they are only somewhat or not equipped to identify curiosity in:
- Job applicants (47%).
- Direct reports (41%).
About 2 in 5 managers in the health care/life sciences industry are very concerned about curiosity’s potential to lead to:
- Increased risk of errors or bad decisions (38%).
- Greater difficulty coming to a final decision or taking action (35%).
- Decreased efficiency or productivity (35%).
- Greater difficulty managing employees (34%).
These managers admit they find it challenging to:
- Develop curiosity in employees who don’t naturally have it (47%).
- Connect curiosity to job performance (47%).
- Identify situations or problems where curiosity is most useful (42%).
- Connect curiosity to business impact (42%).
- Identify job applicants who have curiosity (40%).
Exactly 2 in 5 (40%) managers in health care/life sciences – the most across industries – go as far as to say employees and applicants today have too much curiosity, further highlighting the complexity between recognizing the value of curiosity in these employees and effectively and efficiently harnessing this skill in the workplace.
More curious managers in health care/life sciences exhibit greater workplace engagement and work to foster this skill among direct reports in several ways.
The Curiosity Index  was used to measure the prevalence of workplace curiosity in managers – managers in the health care/life sciences industry can be categorized as:
- High curiosity (most inclined to identify with statements defining a curious nature) (39%).
- Moderate curiosity (45%).
- Low curiosity (least inclined to identify with statements defining a curious nature) (16%).
Highly curious managers in health care/life sciences embrace differing ideas and have a relentless pursuit of knowledge and understanding. They often strongly agree that:
- They seek out opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills (80%).
- They continue to seek information until they understand complex problems fully (80%).
- They work relentlessly to answer complicated problems at work (80%).
Further highlighting the value of curiosity in helping companies address some of their key challenges when it comes to employee retention and performance, more curious managers within health care/life sciences are likely to:
- Strongly agree they would continue to work for their employer for as long as possible (73%).
- Strongly agree they feel motivated to go above and beyond what their job requires (64%)
- Say their direct reports’ performance is very strong (74%).
The top methods more curious managers in the health care/life sciences industry use to foster and encourage curiosity are:
- Publicly praising employees who demonstrate curiosity (70%).
- Rewarding curiosity in performance reviews (70%).
- One-on-one coaching or mentoring (66%).
Managers across the curiosity spectrum can be further divided into one of four segments based on how each segment values curiosity in the workplace in various ways.
Managers in the health care/life sciences industry can be categorized as:
High-curiosity collaborators (33% of managers in health care/life sciences vs. 35% across industries). The most curious segment. These managers value collaboration, are teamwork driven and are relentless in finding answers. They do this through listening and valuing co-workers' ideas and continuously seeking opportunities to expand skills but are more hesitant when new challenges present themselves. Focused on curiosity, these managers believe this trait leads to greater efficiency and productivity at work and results in greater job satisfaction.
Flexibility-driven opinion seekers (29% of managers in health care/life sciences vs. 26% across industries). These managers embrace challenges, and the possibility of being distressed does not affect their motivation. Curiosity leads to greater flexibility and adaptability during times of uncertainty and can bring more empathy and inclusivity to workplaces. These managers do not believe that curiosity leads to a boost in efficiency or overall team performance.
Productivity-focused leaders (22% of managers in health care/life sciences vs. 24% across industries). These managers believe curiosity can lead to stronger collaboration and teamwork and help increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace. They do not, however, believe curiosity drives inclusivity and diversity of thought.
Anti-curiosity leaders (16% of managers in health care/life sciences vs. 16% across industries). The smallest segment, these managers do not believe curiosity adds any value to performance or the workplace.
 Base note: n=114.
 Base note: n=332.
 Base note: n=173 high-curiosity managers.
 Base note: n=71 low-curiosity managers, results should be viewed as directional.
 The 2021 Curiosity Index: The Curiosity Index score is based on the ratings of eight different attributes related to curiosity in the workplace. The index transforms the attributes’ raw ratings into a 0-100 metric where all the scores are averaged. Managers with a score of 71 or lower ranked “low” in the index; managers with a score ranging from 72 to 83 were categorized as “medium”; and those with a score of 84 or higher were assigned to the “high” category. The thresholds in each category were derived based on the index score distribution and best practices. Questions used in the development of this index were inspired by research conducted by Todd Kashdan and his team on the topic of curiosity in the workplace, “Curiosity has comprehensive benefits in the workplace: Developing and validating a multidimensional workplace curiosity scale in United States and German employees.”
Given its global value and impact, it is evident that curiosity is an increasingly necessary and crucial skill that employees across levels within health care/life sciences need to develop, as well as a trait that these organizations must foster to remain competitive. Curiosity has the potential to help address some of the biggest business challenges identified by health care/life sciences managers by fostering increased innovation, efficiency and productivity and addressing challenges related to employee morale and retention – key to mitigating the Great Resignation and hiring challenges that many organizations across industries are experiencing. Understanding how to identify and cultivate this skill will be essential as competition around hiring and business performance continues.
However, knowing how to effectively develop this trait among employees is difficult. Many managers within health care/life sciences admit they struggle with how to develop curiosity in employees who do not have it naturally and with identifying situations where this skill is most useful. Many also find it challenging to connect this skill to areas like job performance and overall business impact. Yet managers identified as being more curious in our research show increased motivation and satisfaction in their role and actively work to encourage this trait among their direct reports, further highlighting the importance of fostering this skill. This can be done in multiple ways, such as by rewarding curiosity in performance reviews or publicly praising employees who demonstrate this trait. The case for curiosity is clear. It is now up to organizations within health care/life sciences to further embrace this trait and for managers to continue to incorporate this skill in their employee development efforts or risk falling behind.