In the clinical research industry, longstanding employees are both valuable and unfortunately rare. Many research sites see high employee turnover and must continuously hire and train new staff members. Getting new hires up to speed quickly is often challenging for an already stretched staff, and ineffective or unorganized training methods can lead to operational issues in the long run.
To avoid such issues, it’s important to develop a training program that teaches both job-related information and practical application. Mentoring programs can be a simple and cost effective means of assisting staff training and engaging new employees.
Benefits of mentoring programs
These programs often involve designating an experienced employee to act as a mentor and provide guidance to a new and/or less experienced employee. This kind of peer-to-peer mentorship provides valuable support to new hires and can prove rewarding for every role.¹ Additional benefits include:
1. Easing the stress of a new job
Starting in a new position can be overwhelming, particularly if your training is unclear or you’re left with unanswered questions. Mentoring programs can reduce the anxiety of starting a new job by ensuring new hires know who to go to with their questions and concerns. It’s often easier for mentees to learn when they know there is someone dedicated to helping them succeed.
2. More individualized training
The one-to-one interaction of mentoring programs allow for a more personalized approach to training. Mentors and mentees can decide what training methods will be most effective based on how the mentee learns best. While some training must remain standardized, this catered approach can help fill any gaps in understanding and allow for a greater range of knowledge application.
3. Makes system adoption easier
Systems, such as clinical trial management systems (CTMS), require optimal user adoption to provide the most benefit to research sites. Ensuring all users are adequately trained on how best to use the system can be a challenging task without sufficient processes in place. Mentors can assist their mentees during interactions with a system by being available to answer questions and communicating the value and purpose.
4. Reduces employee turnover
Mentoring programs can play a key role in employee retention. Acting mentors have shown higher job satisfaction and commitment to their employer, and those involved in mentoring programs tend to feel more engaged and empowered.²
Tips for making it work at your site
Starting and maintaining a mentoring program requires a clear direction and commitment. A good program has purposefully defined objectives, as well as mentors and mentees who are dedicated and communicative. Tips for developing an effective mentor-mentee relationship include:
Setting ground rules
During the very first meeting, address administrative topics such as level of confidentiality and meeting frequency. This will help define the mentoring relationship and avoid miscommunication or potential conflicts.³
Defining clear goals
Discuss and outline the purpose of the mentorship and identify achievable goals to work towards. These goals can act as success markers and help direct training practices. From there, work together to determine action items to help the mentee reach their designated goals.
Committing to meeting regularly
The day-to-day of clinical research can be busy and it’s often tempting to push meetings with mentors/mentees aside for more pressing tasks. However, the key to a successful mentoring relationship is commitment. Schedule regular meetings to address relevant topics and maintain progress towards the mentee’s training goals.
Mentoring programs can help your new employees feel adequately equipped to perform job duties and become more comfortable using your site’s clinical research systems. To learn more methods for preparing and training your clinical research staff on system use, check out our recent article on user adoption.
Find even more strategies to help you engage your current employees and reduce turnover at your research site in our free, on-demand webinar.