Survey: CROs See Rise in Employee Turnover Rate, Less Retention Bonuses

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

Survey: CROs See Rise in Employee Turnover Rate
CRO (clinical research organization) employees are switching jobs at dramatically higher rates than their counterparts in other industries, especially overseas, according to a survey on CRO compensation.

The survey, called CRO Industry Global Compensation Survey 2012, revealed a 12.5% turnover rate among all CRO positions, which included a 29% turnover rate for CRAs (clinical research associates) in the US, compared to 22% in 2011, and a 41% turnover rate for project managers outside of the US, compared to 14% in 2011.

Judy Canavan -- a principal at HR+Survey Solutions, which conducted the survey -- told Outsourcing-Pharma.com that she “cannot say exactly why​” there was such a high turnover rate in 2012 for project managers outside the US. But she noted that CRAs “tend to have the highest turnover. In many cases, these employees ‘work from home’ but spend much of their time away from home at the clinical sites​.

My understanding is that employees will switch jobs for a variety of reasons including location of the study (if they prefer the location of the study to which they will be assigned), nature of the study, pay, and promotions​,” she added.

The use of signing bonuses and the lack of retention bonuses may be a key indicator. CROs reported using signing bonuses to lure new talent in 65% of the cases, though only 29% used retention bonuses.

 “While the numbers may bounce around a bit from year to year and job to job, the overall take away is that the market for talent is hot and seems to stay that way – despite the economy​,” Canavan said.

Involuntary turnover rates for nearly all data managers, CRAs and project managers between 2010 and the latest survey also decreased.

Information was submitted by 17 CROs on compensation data across 34 countries, with industry regulars such as Parexel, PharmaNet, PPD, PRA International and Rho participating.

Executive Compensation

In addition, the survey found that annual incentives and projected LTI (long-term incentive) levels were lower for CROs as compared to other industries, especially for industry executives. CRO executives with salaries of $250,000 were eligible for, on average, a target annual incentive of 26% of their salary and an LTI of 35%, while similar executives in other industries were eligible for annual incentives and LTIs of 44% and 51%, respectively.

And while the majority of executives were up for bonuses in 2012, only 50% actually received them.

This should send a strong message to CRO executives who have the opportunity to implement strategic solutions, including increasing the use of performance based incentives, to retain and motivate talent without having to increase fixed costs​,” said Canavan.

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