Report: CRO turnover spikes outside the US, remains steady stateside

By Melissa Fassbender contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Pogonici)
(Image: Getty/Pogonici)
An increasing number of clinical trials and a decreasing amount of unemployment are creating a significant talent demand as the contract research industry continues to experience employee turnover.

According to the annual contract research organization (CRO) Industry Global Compensation and Turnover Survey, conducted by HR+Survey Solutions, LLC, employee turnover in clinical monitoring jobs outside the US increased 40% from 2015 to 2016 – reaching 22.9% last year, compared to 16.4% in 2015.

This spike in turnover outside the US, which occurred despite CRO efforts, was among the report’s most surprising findings, Judy Canavan, managing partner of HR+Survey Solutions told us, who said that low unemployment is one of the trends underlying these changes

Additionally, the number of registered clinical trials​ increased 11% over the last year. and from 2005, has increased from 24,921 to 256,544 as of October 12, 2017. “This creates significant demand for talent​,” Canavan said.

In the US, turnover in clinical monitoring jobs was at 25.8% in 2016, with a 2.7% increase over the previous year’s reported 25.1% in 2015, according to the report. However, Canavan explained there are cases where individual companies are experiencing turnover over 40% in the US and “well over​” 70% outside the US.

Clinical research associates often work from home but most of their week is spent on the road traveling to study sites. Finding a way to engage these employees and gain their loyalty is a challenge​,” she said.

With the year over year industry growth predicted to continue in the CRO industry – attracting and retaining talent is a key factor to a successful business model​.”

Canavan explained employee turnover creates a loss of continuity that can lead to delayed timelines, in addition to increasing costs as a result of lower productivity, increased workload on colleagues, and increased onboarding and recruitment costs.

There is a high level of M&A activity in this industry which may also be a contributing factor to high turnover. Financiers tend to focus on the numbers and not the people​,” she added. “But without the people, the deal is unlikely to achieve the success hoped for​. It would be wise to incorporate HR into the deal earlier on​.”

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