Tip of the Week: “Stay Conversations” May be a Remedy for Unsatisfied Employees


Proactive retention strategies can improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover rates.

Job satisfaction reflects the contentment employees feel towards their job. Many extrinsic factors play a role in determining satisfaction, including salary, promotion opportunities, collegiality with coworkers, and relationship with management.

The level of satisfaction an employee feels can directly affect an organization through engagement levels, organizational commitment, and motivation. Improving employees’ job satisfaction has the potential to benefit the organization as well as the quality of patient care. Satisfied pharmacists are likely to be engaged at work and be more committed to providing optimal pharmacy services.1 While employees’ satisfaction will vary within an organization, organizations will have cumulative levels of satisfaction based on the workplace culture they cultivate.

A recent study measured the principal drivers of pharmacist job satisfaction in the hospital setting.1 The study authors measured 4 main factors through use of a survey, including promotion opportunities, management‑interpersonal relationships, organizational communication, and overall job satisfaction.1 Overall, most pharmacists in the study were satisfied at their job and not intending to leave the organization,1 but pharmacists reported low levels of satisfaction in regard to promotion and advancement opportunities. Relationships with management and organization communication were reportedly sufficient.

However, a different study investigated satisfaction levels among both pharmacists and technicians and revealed that 47% were not satisfied with their job.2 The factors most strongly associated with dissatisfaction were high workload, lack of autonomy, and insufficient recognition and promotion opportunities.2 Like the previous study, there was lack of contentment regarding advancement and promotion opportunities. Most concerning, only 26% of study participants felt their talents were being fully utilized in their current position.2 At the end of the day, the things that many employees value are simply that they be recognized for their contributions and have opportunities for further development.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that 48% of workers in the United States are actively searching or watching for new job opportunities.3 Considering the previously mentioned job satisfaction results, this may not be surprising. However, 52% of employees who voluntarily exit report that their manager could have done something to prevent them from leaving the organization.3

Taking preventative action to ensure employees feel satisfied and content in their current position is essential to mitigating turnover. Organizations should consider utilizing “stay conversations” to encourage employee retention and let them know what a future might look like for them upon staying with the organization. By speaking with employees to uncover their career goals, motivations, and what they need to be more successful in their role, managers can form stronger partnerships with staff.3

These conversations should be conducted routinely with each individual to offer support and guidance regarding their personal job expectations and goals. By getting to the heart of the employee’s motivations and needs, stay conversations allow the employer to tailor each position to the individual employee, getting them more engaged in the organization and providing the opportunity to learn new skills. It is important to note that these are not single conversations; instead, these coaching sessions should be conducted regularly to build a positive professional relationship with management.

In the second study discussed above, pharmacists and technicians reported that their talents were not being fully utilized by their organization.2 Routine coaching conversations could have revealed this, and management would have the opportunity to work with employees to tailor their responsibilities to utilize their individual strengths, in turn better serving the organization.

By utilizing stay conversations, managers can forge a more personal relationship with their staff, identifying factors that motivate them and offering opportunities that align with their career goals.4 By committing to work with staff to improve their employee experience, loyalty and commitment to the organization is developed. Stay conversations cost only a little bit of time, and managers and organizations should reap a tremendous return on this relatively small but highly salient investment.

More information about Human Resources Management Functions and Organizational Structure and Behavior can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Ashley Woodyard is a PharmD candidate at Touro University California.

Shane P. Desselle, PhD, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at Touro University California.


1. Iorga M, Dondaș C, Soponaru C, Antofie I. Determinants of hospital pharmacists' job satisfaction in Romanian hospitals. Pharmacy (Basel). 2017;5(4):66.

2. Al-Muallem N, Al-Surimi KM. Job satisfaction, work commitment and intention to leave among pharmacists: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2019;9(9):e024448.

3. Overwhelmed by employee turnover? Have stay conversations. Gallup.com. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/355238/overwhelmed-employee-turnover-stay-conversations.aspx.

4. Hohmeier KC, Desselle SP. Exploring the implementation of a novel care model in the community pharmacy setting. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2019;59(3):310-318.

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