The pharmaceutical industry seems to be becoming a less attractive sector to work in, as earnings growth has dipped for the first time in four years and bonuses are become scarcer, according to this year’s National Management Salary Survey.

The survey of 42,205 people by the Chartered Management Institute and Remuneration Economics recorded an average earnings boost of 5.3% for 2007, down from 5.7% seen in the prior year and marking the lowest movement in earnings since 1996. Furthermore, bonus payments are taking a back seat in terms of total pay, with the number of executives taking home a bonus slipping for the second year running and the average amount awarded slipping from £7,315 last year to £4,699.

On the plus side, managers in the pharmaceutical sector are the highest industry earners, with an average salary of £50,525 compared to the UK average of £47,449, and the number of companies offering a complete remuneration package – childcare benefits and medical insurance – is on the rise. Even so, employers in the sector are finding it more difficult to hold on to their staff, with resignations up at 4.4% compared to just 1.5% in 2006.

Recruitment drying up?

Similarly, despite increasingly attractive and numerous incentives on offer, employers are finding it harder to attract quality staff into their organisations. According to the survey, 81% are reporting recruitment problems, a four-fold increase from 2002 and despite a massive rise in golden hellos (32.6% versus 16.3% in 2006). Although the majority laid the blame with a lack of suitable candidates, 51% admitted to offering little training or opportunities for career development, while 27% said that restructuring had led to concerns over job security.

“The steep climb in organisations reporting recruitment difficulties, mixed with an increasing number of resignations, should be ringing alarm bells for employers,” warned Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the CMI. “The marketplace is clearly tipping in favour of the employee, so if they are serious about retaining the best talent organisations urgently need to meet the needs and expectations of their staff,” she added.