SOW & Talent Retention in Pharma - Case Study

Synergy Scientific Services teamed up with the client, a world-leading pharmaceutical CDMO, to improve the retention of talent and reduce the headcount gap.


One of the UK’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturing companies sought to improve the efficiencies of the contingent workforce across the QC laboratories. The client was experiencing challenges with peaks and troughs in each laboratory, as well as a lack of visibility of resource levels and capacity from their contingent workforce. 

In addition, the client wanted to remodel the use of flexible resources to improve retention of talent and cross-training while reducing the management burden on core staff.

An existing headcount of twenty-three contingent workers was in place across three suppliers. The client wanted to retain and complement these with higher-level resource to develop a flexible capacity.

There were six different laboratories within the wider QC group – all with either complete or nuanced skill differences.

The site was also looking to reduce headcount numbers while retaining and growing the flexible team. Moreover, the recruitment, management, and supervision of the contingent workforce was absorbing too much core staff time and removing the focus on process improvement


The Synergy model

With a primary objective for the programme being to reduce the site reportable headcount, the client saw the Synergy model as the best way to achieve this.

As Synergy employs individuals on a full contract of employment with fixed hours each week, we set out to achieve this target via a Functional Service Provision (FSL) model rather than through contingent workers.

Our Approach

Synergy’s approach was to gain a detailed understanding of the current team set-up and perform a gap analysis against future skill-set requirements.


This was conducted through a full-day workshop to dive deeper into the long-term vision for the cross-trained laboratory personnel and aligning the corporate objectives. The outcome of the workshop gave the future intended structure and a detailed project plan to achieve the goals.


Having aligned the corporate goals through a project plan, Synergy set about assessing contingent workers to fit the model and worked through a TUPE process to transfer onto permanent employment contracts. In parallel, Synergy ran a recruitment campaign to identify talent for critical roles to fit the new structure. One such critical hire was an onsite team leader who would take away much of the management responsibility from the core staff.


Phase II of the project involved developing the employees into the flexible cross-trained unit to support the smoothing of work in progress peaks. This was delivered by identifying areas of commonality across laboratories and supporting the training and upskilling of key individuals within the team.



SOW case study

Synergy’s first hire for the programme was the onsite team leader, who provided the SRG recruitment teams with critical insight into identifying the right people for the right roles. 

This allowed us to quickly gain granular knowledge of the company culture and select candidates who best aligned with the client’s core values. 

In parallel to this hire, we set about the consultation through a TUPE process to transfer individuals onto permanent contracts of employment. The 100% success rate of this transfer is testament to the communication and process, as well as how well the new employment model was received by the previous contingent workforce. 

With Phase I recruitment complete, Synergy set about implementing a Performance and Development Review structure. Completing this across the thirty-two-person team enabled us to identify high-potential employees for cross-training and earmark them for further development. 

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