In January 2019, Paramount Recruitment published its second annual Genomics Salary Survey, in conjunction with Frontline Genomics. In this article, Paramount’s Eugene McDaid takes a look at the stories and trends behind the stats:
Our 2019 Salary Survey has been our biggest yet, with more people completing the survey for us than last year, giving us a much broader sample and generating more consistent and revealing results. We’ve also seen an uplift in the number of people downloading the final report too. It’s clear there is a demand for this kind of information in the marketplace, and I believe it’s a useful way of measuring the health of the genomics industry and its employees.
One of the most positive things about this being our second Survey is that we now have comparable data. We can see whether our results from this year reveal an upwards or downward trend or any notable shifts in attitudes in the industry. Armed with this information employers can make informed changes to the way they recruit new candidates, and candidates can ensure they are getting offers which are reflective of the industry benchmark.
The top line stat for the report – and the one which draws most attention – is the UK’s median salary information. While this has increased compared to last year, it still doesn’t compare favourably to the US or the rest of Europe and this is a cause for concern. The Government is keen to position the UK genomics industry as a vanguard and a world leader yet achieving this vision may be more difficult if we are unable to attract the best talent because we don’t pay enough.
But there may be another explanation for this headline stat as more senior positions in genomics, and therefore the higher salaries, are based in Europe and the US while many of the jobs in the UK are lower and entry level positions – this could account for the UK’s median salary being lower than other countries. Going back to the Government’s vision for our genomics economy though, how can we lead the world if the leaders aren’t based here?
Which brings me on very neatly to our next topic for discussion; Europe. The survey reveals just how dependent the UK genomics industry is on Europe to strengthen its workforce, and with Brexit just around the corner, this puts the sector in a very precarious position. For companies looking to recruit and indeed for European workers seeking opportunities in the UK, there remains a lot of uncertainty.
One thing that the survey data highlights is how fluid the workforce is in Europe and beyond compared to the UK. Europeans are happy to move to new countries, to follow the opportunities that present themselves. The UK approach to relocation is much more rigid. We are a nation of house buyers, it’s part of our culture, but it makes candidates much less open to new opportunities in other parts of the UK as well as in Europe or overseas.
Our survey reveals that progress is being made in pay equality but that a level playing field is still some way away. The survey highlights the issues at senior level roles in particular, and this is something which will take time to bring into line. What we expect to see is that the steps taken now to ensure recruitment and pay is fair for all will gradually filter through the industry as a whole and in 10-15 years time we will have achieved as close to a balance as we can get. Unfortunately there is no quick fix to the gender pay gap problem.
What will help to ensure it continues to improve though will be the presence of more women in senior roles, to act as mentors to other women coming into genomics and to support and champion their rights for equal pay and opportunities in the workplace.
While UK workers are seemingly being paid less than their counterparts in other countries, our survey also suggests that their job satisfaction is also much lower – which may be no coincidence. After all, if you can’t afford to do all the things outside of work that you enjoy, it will inevitably begin to rub off on how satisfied you feel about your job.
What workers rate as important in a job is very reflective of the needs of the younger generations coming through the industry. Working environment ranks top of the list of what people are looking for in a job, while the salary and how interesting the work is comes much further down the pecking order. For a recruiter, understanding what makes candidates tick helps us to match them to positions where they will feel satisfied and fulfilled and it can also help us to better guide our clients as to what candidates want from them. From our data at least, a generous salary and benefits doesn’t seem to have the same draw it would have done 10 years ago and this change will be largely driven by the Millennials.
Our survey also reveals a big jump in the number of people who work from home. Although some genomics roles can’t be done from home (unless you have a lab there!), there is a lot things that can be done on computer and with a secure network and connectivity, there’s no reason why working from home shouldn’t be an option. If we are witnessing a shift towards a more flexible genomics workforce, it may well help to attract even more women into the industry and allow them to progress further.
Unsurprisingly, our respondents ranked funding and investment and recruitment as their perceived biggest challenges. The two are intrinsically linked – without money, there is no growth and no recruitment. With money, there is the potential for growth, but not without recruitment!
Brexit may bring about an end to the free movement of labour that we have enjoyed in recent years and this could compound the recruitment challenges people are so concerned about. One possible resolution to this may be the use of freelance employees or contractors as this will allow organisations to buy in the expertise they need – albeit at a higher cost. For workers with the right skills set looking to go freelance, it could be a sellers’ market.
The freelance formula has already been adopted by the healthcare communications sector, so it may well be a future trend for genomics too.
If you are interested in speaking with one of our consultants to find out more about opportunities in the Genomics market or you are a client who needs to attract and retain staff, please get in touch.