Work-Life Notes from a Small CRO


Applied Clinical Trials

Applied Clinical TrialsApplied Clinical Trials-11-01-2008
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A look into the work-life benefits that are offered at a small contract research organization.

Work-life benefits are critical in any industry and when it comes to the success or failure of a clinical trial, where ultimately millions of dollars and the quality of life are at stake, CROs are no exception. While it may not be definitive how much an employee's job satisfaction affects his/her performance at work, there is undoubtedly a correlation between the two.

So, how can employers effectively implement a series of work-life benefits that will fully satisfy an employee and in turn promote the best job performance? Applied Clinical Trials spoke with Jodi Andrews, founding partner and chief executive officer of ProTrials, a small CRO based in Mountain View, CA, about the types of work-life benefits her employees receive and the underlying belief system as to why they are offered.

Jodi Andrews, founding partner and chief executive officer of ProTrials.

The essentials

With 75 employees, ProTrials offers a standard benefits package, including health care, dental, 401(k), and the basic vacation and sick time. In addition, they are also offered tuition reimbursement, which allows employees a certain amount of money per year for training or courses relevant to the job.

Each employee's salary is based on a structured salary range specific to a job family. "An employees' salary is determined on their years of experience and how that compares to others in the job category," Andrews noted.

Raises take place annually and are based on each employee's individual performance. While there is a range each year for bonuses, these are effected by the health of the company.

Small advantages

Known for its 90% retention rate, ProTrials takes advantage of its smaller size as a CRO and looks to provide its employees with benefits that larger companies would be unable to offer. "Most people have flexible schedules here," Andrews noted.

"Something that works for us as an organization is we allow people to come in early and leave late if they need to." People are also able to work from home when necessary and numerous employees work part-time. As a company, "we are sensitive to not being clock watchers—if someone needs to leave to go pick up their kids, they can leave," Andrews explained.

"We are smaller so we are able to have...more flexibility. As owners we have a lot more interaction with employees," Andrews said. Flexibility is "important in CROs because it tends to be majority women based. For us it's more important to get the job done and get it done well."

As a woman-owned business and a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, one of ProTrials' goals is to promote work-life balance. "One of our core values is balance between family and work life, we know people have to have both. In the CRA world a lot of the time it's all about travel, and that's hard with families," Andrews explained.

Beyond these various benefits ProTrials also offers employees opportunities to give back to the community. The company allows one day off per year to volunteer and do charity work.

The company gives back to the environment as well. ProTrials was certified as a green business in 2007. Highlighting its green initiatives: Employees are offered hybrids when renting cars and the option to plant a tree every time they take a flight.

Social events

In CROs, employees are often spread out, making it difficult for members of a team to become acquainted. In an attempt to alleviate this issue, the company holds an annual party where people are able to bring their families and spend a weekend with other employees. "We certainly want to promote the teamwork aspect and getting to know your fellow employees," Andrews said.

"I hope and believe that people think we do care about them," Andrews said. "If employees are happy they'll do a

better job."—Marissa Shapiro

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