Millennial Employees: Tips for Improving Job Satisfaction at Your Clinical Research Site

April Schultz
January 19th, 2016

Over the past few years, the word  “millennial” has become familiar to many industries, including clinical research. This generation of confident, technology-savvy individuals has begun to take the workforce by storm, already comprising 34% of the US labor force, surpassing their predecessors in Generation X.1

“Millennial” is a term that describes the generation of individuals born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 19 to 35 in 2016).1

As an employer in the clinical research industry, it’s important to note that millennials currently make up about 70% of active study coordinators, research nurses and clinical research associates.2 In order to encourage growth and increase the success of your clinical research operations, you may need to learn and accommodate certain characteristics of the millennial generation. This article outlines a couple of ways you can adjust your practices to increase employee success in a growing millennial workforce.

Increase digital communication

Millennials are considered “digital natives,” meaning they are the first generation of individuals that did not have to adapt to the rising popularity of the internet, mobile technology, or social media. These individuals grew up using digital communication and are now the most avid users of these technologies.3

In the workplace, many millennials prefer to communicate online, by email or messaging. While they are fully capable of conducting productive in-person or phone conversations, millennials are very proficient in digital communications and often thrive in an online environment.

Action Item

Not all conversations can be held online, but there are many ways your clinical research practice can increase its use of digital communication to help millennial employees feel comfortable and communicate effectively.

Online direct messaging tools such as Slack enable quick communication between individuals and teams, allowing users to conduct real-time conversations and share files. Google Hangouts is a similar, free platform that allows users to have individual or group conversations via direct message or video chat.

If tools such as these aren’t feasible for your site, you may find success by simply increasing email communication with your employees. Doing this could boost employee responsiveness and satisfaction.

Provide clear feedback and recognition

According to research from the O.C. Tanner Institute, the top motivators for millennial workers are to “produce great work” and “feel appreciated for their contributions.”4

Millennials enjoy receiving regular feedback because they are constantly looking to learn and grow. When it comes to their careers, millennials like to be fully informed about their performance, with no surprises. They are motivated by recognition and respond well to sincere appreciation from employers and coworkers.

Action Item

A great way to accommodate your employees’ desire for feedback is to make it a part of workday conversation. Getting into the habit of providing feedback on a regular basis makes conversations about performance less confrontational and more relaxed. This kind of conversation also benefits you as an employer, as it allows you to identify and address concerns more quickly.5

You can also conduct what Mallory Thomas of ClinEdge coined “stay interviews” in her webinar “How to Motivate and Retain Study Coordinators.” Similar to an exit interview, a stay interview is an informal sit-down with your employee that allows them to voice concerns and reveal aspirations. It’s a time for you to ask questions, discover their motivators and better understand how to avoid employee turnover.

Looking to the future

As the coming years bring more millennials into the workforce, it’s worth optimizing your employment and management strategies to encourage the best performance from your young employees. Technology, communication and feedback are key to keeping millennial employees happy in their positions. These practices also benefit the success of your clinical operations as a whole, hopefully making you and your staff more informed and transparent.

Learn More

To learn more about increasing employee job satisfaction and reducing turnover at your clinical research site, view our on-demand webinar “How to Motivate and Retain Study Coordinators.”

On-Demand Webinar: How to Motivate and Retain Study Coordinators



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