How to Motivate and Retain Study Coordinators – Q&A

Mallory Thomas
Senior Associate Director of Clinical Operations, ClinEdge
January 28th, 2016

An often overlooked tool, the stay interview has the potential to greatly improve retention within an organization. A stay interview is a one-on-one meeting the manager has with a direct report in order to learn what factors contribute to their desire to stay at an organization. They have minimal to no cost, take very little time, and provide quick and transparent feedback; why wouldn’t a company conduct them?

Following her webinar, Mallory Thomas answers attendee questions regarding stay interviews and employee engagement.

 What types of questions should I ask my employee during a stay interview?

 Questions should cover a variety of key topics, including: positive reasons they stay, potential triggers, management, opportunity, core satisfaction, support, and recognition. Some questions may include the following:

  • What do you like about your job/what motivates you to come into work?  (Positive stay factors)
  • What has frustrated you in the past few months/demotivated you? (Potential triggers)
  • What would you do differently if you were your own manager? (Management)
  • Do you feel fully utilized/are your strengths being used to the fullest degree? (Opportunity)
  • Do you feel that you are given the tools you need to do your job well? (Core satisfaction)
  • Do you feel the company recognizes you for your accomplishments? (Recognition)
  • Do you feel that there is someone at the company who encourages your development? (Support)

The questions above are derived, in part, from Gallup’s “Q12” list, which covers key areas surrounding employee engagement.

 We already send out a company-wide engagement survey; is a stay interview necessary in this case?

 Absolutely! The stay interview would be a great supplement to an engagement survey. Results from an engagement survey could potentially guide questions asked in a stay interview. When comparing the two, engagement surveys provide company-wide data, tracking numbers and trends on a large scale and over a longer period of time. Stay interviews are more personalized and very actionable. They allow for quick, targeted feedback that you can turn into action items for immediate implementation.

 What is the process following a stay interview?

 Every answer received should be translated into something actionable. For instance, if an employee says they do not feel there is someone who encourages their development, perhaps implementing a mentorship program would be a good step. Additionally, if someone says they would like more of a “hands-on” manager with more frequent check-ins, one could implement weekly or biweekly meetings.

 How far into an employee’s time with a company should a stay interview be held? Is it a one-time meeting?

 Stay interviews should occur at the 3-month mark, and again at the year mark. The 3-month mark is beneficial because at this point, an employee has been with the company long enough to understand their role and the environment of the company. A follow-up meeting at the year mark is beneficial to discuss any new concerns and to follow up on the issues or suggestions that were made during the 3-month interview. It also creates some accountability for managers to put employee suggestions in place. Holding them yearly would be beneficial, since both companies and employee needs change over time.

 Are stay interviews formal meetings?

 It does not have to be a formal meeting, but the process itself should be structured so that all key topics are addressed. It is essential that the conversation be transparent and that the employee is comfortable sharing his/her honest opinions and thoughts. Bringing your employee to a coffee shop or somewhere more casual can set the tone and make the manager seem approachable, which hopefully leads to greater transparency.


Learn more

Watch this free, on-demand webinar to learn even more best practices for finding and retaining capable clinical research staff members. During her presentation, our expert webinar presenter explored the theory and practice of competency-based approaches for hiring, retaining and helping staff advance through more systematic, structured and objective-based approaches.

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Competency-Based Approaches to Staff Hiring, Management and Advancement

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