CRO turnover remains high, says report

By Melissa Fassbender contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: iStock/Saklakova)
(Image: iStock/Saklakova)

Related tags: Clinical research, Contract research organization

Turnover in the US for clinical monitoring jobs at contract research organizations (CROs) has remained high despite efforts to increase salaries, according to a recent report.

According to the survey, conducted by HR+Survey Solutions, LLC, CRO turnover was at 25.1% in 2015, almost the same as the previous year’s reported 25.4% (2014) – even though there was a 7% increase in average salaries for professional positions from 2014 to 2015.

Although the company noted that there were cases in which individual companies experienced turnover well over 50%.

Judy Canavan, managing partner, HR+Survey Solutions and the author of the study, told us that while compensation is often cited as the reason for turnover, it is an “easy reason because it’s neutral​,” versus other issues, such as work life balance, and colleagues, which she said are harder to discuss.

Specifically, Canavan explained clinical research associates (CRAs) are often traveling 75% or more of the time. “Sometimes they just get burned out from travel​,” she said.

Additionally, while CRAs are connected to their team at the research site, Canavan said it’s not quite the same as going into an office and building relationships over the year with colleagues.

I think that helps cement people into their jobs​,” she added.

There is also a high learning curve at the professional level for CRAs. “They tend to learn a lot and become valuable quickly​,” said Canavan, adding that “sometimes the compensation systems don’t keep up​.”

However, as she explained, money isn’t always a good fix, as is demonstrated with current turnover rates.

By the numbers:

  • Global turnover in clinical monitoring was 27.2% in 2011; 15.6% in 2012; 14.2% in 2013; and 17.9% in 2014.
  • Average salary levels for professional non-management positions in the survey increased by 7% from 2014 to 2015.
  • Outside the US turnover in clinical monitoring decreased to 16.4% in 2015 from 17.9% in 2014.
  • US overall average turnover at CROs, all positions included, increased to 20.1% in 2015 from 19.5% in 2014.
  • Outside the US the overall turnover rate at CROs increased from 16% to 17%.
  • Cycle raises are the most common approach to retain talent with 85% of companies using them in the US and 78% outside the US.
  • 48% of companies use retention bonuses as a way to keep talent.
  • New hire sign-on bonuses were used by 81% of companies.

Related topics: Clinical Development, Phase III-IV

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