Are Staffing Challenges Affecting Your Institution’s Research Profile?

Many institutions still struggle to recruit and retain the best talent for these challenging positions. A changing regulatory landscape, increasingly complex protocols and a litany of deadlines all contribute to a stressful environment for these employees. Additionally, salaries have remained largely stagnant, creating a general sense of disengagement.

Staff turnover can lead to interruption in workflow and management, often creating delays for study start-ups. With study coordinators often the primary contact with CROs, regulatory agencies and sponsors, the disruption and inconsistency in communication can have a negative impact on the relationship with these important stakeholders.

“We have seen situations at institutions in which an entire study was put on hold because a coordinator departed and there was no one to continue the work,” says Jill Filipelli, BRANY’s Clinical Trials Activation Team, Operations Manager, “This created quite a bit of consternation and frustration from the sponsor.” These institutions are at risk of losing future opportunities as selected study sites.

High turnover can be expensive for employers. A study published by the Society for Human Research Management showed that replacing an employee can cost up to 50 to 60 percent of the employee’s annual salary. If you add the cost to onboard and train a new coordinator in procedures and protocols, the cost of recruiting a new employee can be significant. Investing in retaining experienced talent can save in long-term costs associated with turnover.

Studies have shown that salary alone is not the key factor in retaining staff. According to a 2012 Centerwatch study, study coordinators are looking to advance their careers through professional training and promotions. Providing opportunities for education and training is a cornerstone to a successful staff retention strategy. Ongoing mentoring of CRCs can also encourage more engagement and job satisfaction.

Investing in the development of clinical research staff can yield results well beyond mitigating the hassle of hiring new employees. Having a consistent team also ensures consistency and smoother workflow to ensure the successful start-up and management of clinical research programs. This, in turn, stabilizes and improves relationships with CROs and sponsors when they are identifying research sites.