Survey confirms return of staffing volatility in CRO sector

A survey published by HR+ Survey Solutions suggests that staffing volatility has returned to the CRO sector. The survey was conducted in September 2012 and involved 17 medium to large CROs, collecting data on 11 job families across 35 countries.

The study’s “headline” finding was that 12.5% of personnel left for a new position (with higher compensation and/or greater opportunity) in 2012, compared with a US national average of just 1.5%. Clinical operations staff were even more likely to move on, with 20% of project managers and 24.2% of CRAs surveyed changing jobs last year.

This is surely bad news for CROs and study sponsors, as research conducted in the UK in 2008 suggested that continuity of personnel in the study team was a key factor for a clinical trial’s operational success. It also suggests a return to the staffing “bubble” that dogged the sector in the latter part of the 2000s.

The study commented that 65% of the CROs surveyed use sign-on bonuses to attract talent, but only 29% use retention bonuses to keep their staff. “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 Judy Canavan, Partner, HR+Survey Solutions.