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Research Administration Careers | What’s Greener for Staff When it Comes to Hiring/Retaining

By SRAI News posted 03-09-2022 03:35 PM


Research Administration Careers | What’s Greener for Staff When it Comes to Hiring/Retaining

Office culture is an important yet often overlooked benefit when recruiting new staff and retaining existing team members. Overall hiring success is more easily achieved when your workplace is open, respectful, considerate, and proactive. How would you assess your organization’s office culture? This article is included as part of our yearlong series on Research Administration Careers.

It’s been two years since the start of the pandemic, and we are finally getting back into the swing of things, or at least we are trying to get back into it. One of the challenges many institutions are facing, mine included, is a staffing shortage. Staff are leaving for where the grass is greener or rather, greener for the individual’s pocketbook (i.e. more money). Industry is facing a staffing shortage as well but they are willing to pay at a higher premium than ever before to attract or retain staff. This leaves small community hospital systems like mine in a pinch, especially in the research business where traditionally the pay is not as glorious as industry or other large institutions can and have offered. However, within the last three months I’ve hired three new staff and retained an existing associate all by selling them on one benefit, and it wasn’t more money – it was office culture.

It’s important to remember that the pandemic has not only changed our entire world but most interestingly it has allowed each of us time (thanks to the U.S. shutdown) to think and evaluate what we truly want from employers. In a recent discussion with my three new hires and retained staff member, they all had the following new requirements of an employer:

  • Be compensated for what they feel is their market worth
  • Good immediate benefits (i.e. overall health insurance, dental insurance, eye/ophthalmology insurance, and a decent retirement program)
  • Flexibility of physical working space (i.e. on campus/off or a hybrid model)
  • Employers need to make me feel appreciated
  • Getting along with the team
  • Acknowledgement of the work I do
  • Good Team dynamics

As a hiring manager, leader, and administrator of a research division at my institution, there is only so much I can offer or provide. Thankfully, many of their preferences can be met with a great office culture. Culture is the one benefit I have found to be a consistently good marketing tool. Culture is how you and your team interact, work, and play together. Culture is set by the leader and trickles down to your team.

Some of the ways in which I intentionally work to create a good culture for and within my team is I give respect and ask for respect back and I provide flexibility when a Clinical Research Coordinator doesn’t have to see patients but must enter data and complete paperwork (something they can do from home). On weekly team calls we appreciate and celebrate each other’s wins. We discuss where we need coverage or need assistance due to our deficiencies and provide it. I hosted a holiday gathering at my home for my employees and their significant others and I’ve shut the office down early on a Friday for Happy Hour. We end each Monthly Team Meeting by playing a trivia game of some sort for a prize ranging from $5 - $25 in gift cards. Additionally, I supported and worked hard to getting two existing team members promoted.

With all this being said, if you want to attract new talent as well as keep existing talent from leaving, examine your office culture and see what you can do to build it up. At least that’s what is working for me so far!

Research Administration Careers will be an ongoing column this year. The Catalyst wants to hear your thoughts and articles on all of our topics throughout the year:
- Hiring
- Onboarding
- Training
- Education/Certification
- Office Structures
- Career Ladders/Tracks
Submit article or requests for collaboration to

Authored by Jason Claes, Oncology Clinical Research Manager
TriHealth Cancer Institute