3 Keys to Building a Top-Notch Clinical Trial Staff


Jim Kremidas, ACRP Executive Director

Staffing issues are top of mind among leadership at clinical research organizations around the world. Look no further than the ongoing bidding war for monitors/CRAs at sponsors and CROs for proof that top-quality clinical trials staff are a hot commodity.

Building a high-quality staff at any clinical research organization – be it a sponsor, CRO, site, or academic research center – requires focus in three key areas: staff acquisition; staff development; and staff retention.

Staff Acquisition

Recruiting and hiring the right employees can be a timely process, but it’s the critical first step in building quality teams. Getting it right results in efficiency and immediate productivity. Getting it wrong results in sunken costs and repeat processes.

One way to screen talent and tailor focus toward top-quality professionals is to seek candidates with professional certifications that speak to an individual’s commitment and provide an independently verified level of competence. Another is to engage professional recruiting services that can build a qualified talent pipeline for interviews while creating efficiencies in the recruitment process.

As my boss told me when I moved into my very first management position “hire well or manage like hell.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Staff Development

A lack of professional development support is an oft-cited reason employees seek opportunities elsewhere. Successful organizations develop existing talent by providing opportunities for professional growth and development.

According to the Great Places to Work Institute, employees at the 100 best places to work are provided 66 hours per year of training, with 40% of those hours dedicated to employee growth.

Employers can support an employee’s professional development in several ways, including providing access to, or financial support for, training programs, meetings and conferences, certifications, and membership in professional organizations.

Staff Retention

Retaining your best employees and leveraging their institutional knowledge is critical to any organization’s success. What’s more, the cost of a new employee is significantly greater than that of an existing team member.

From the Society of Human Resource Management:

“Employee departures costs a company time, money, and other resources. Research suggests that direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary.”

Employers can retain their best talent in myriad ways, including fostering ongoing professional development and career growth through by supporting training, certification, and membership in professional membership organizations and societies such as the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP).

ACRP is a non-profit organization with more 40 years’ experience supporting clinical research professionals and helping clinical research organizations accomplish staff acquisition, development, and retention goals.

Visit the ACRP team February 23-25 at the SCOPE Summit for Clinical Ops Executives in Miami, Florida, to learn more about how we can help your organization build a top-notch clinical trial staff. We will be in Booth 707. See you in Miami!

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