Managing and Maximizing the Workforce in Pharmacy

By Francis Okeke, PharmD

January 07, 2022

Managing and Maximizing the Workforce in Pharmacy

Getting the best results from the workforce in any organization requires meticulous strategy planning and implantation. To fully harness individual strengths to achieve overall success as a team, it is vital to pay close attention to the individual and general methods used in managing the workforce. These management approaches often cover many things, from shift schedules and rotations to understanding the individual strengths and weaknesses of each staff member amongst other things. While a number of these strategies also apply in a pharmacy, there are some peculiarities to look out for in managing human resources in a pharmacy.

Efficient management of the pharmacy workforce does not just increase profits; it also improves the overall efficiency of organizational processes. Apart from this, it also helps attract the best talent and maintain high staff retention in the pharmacy. This is important considering the shortage of Pharmacists in the workforce1. It is currently projected that there is a deficit of about 7.3 million workers in the global healthcare workforce2.

The Pharmacy Workforce

The Pharmacy Workforce consists of Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, counter assistants, and in some cases, some other healthcare professionals. While each team member has unique roles, there are some overlaps in their responsibilities. This indicates a need to ensure effective collaboration in the work process.

In some instances, the Pharmacist is saddled with managing the pharmacy, which includes the workforce, alongside his primary pharmaceutical care roles. However, there can also be a non-pharmacist manager who is primarily responsible for the affairs of the pharmacy while the Pharmacist focuses on delivering pharmaceutical care services.

Tips for Managing the pharmacy workforce

Organizational structure has significant effects on the performance of any organization3. As a pharmacy manager, it is important to have the structure of the organization clearly defined and articulated. Good organizational structure makes the work process easy and clear to every member of the workforce. Some of the crucial elements of formal structures include task characteristics, strategic orientation, and environmental conditions3. Itemizing these elements in line with the goal of the pharmacy would go a long way in maximizing the potential of the workforce.

Another vital tip to maximizing the pharmacy workforce is understanding the strengths and weaknesses of its members. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each member of staff helps to effectively assign responsibilities and ensure the overall growth of the workforce4. It is also essential to carry the team along in the appraisal process. This helps each individual know their strengths and weaknesses and commit to their development process.

Most of the processes in pharmacies require collaboration5. Pharmacists have to work with pharmacy technicians and other members of the workforce to deliver quality pharmaceutical care. This is why pharmacy managers should encourage teamwork as much as possible. Considering the possibility of diversity in the workforce, this can sometimes be a challenge. However, one of the best ways around it is to leverage the emotionality individualized responsibility approach6. This involves acknowledging that emotions significantly affect a person’s work and are often a response to an external stimulus. Understanding this helps pharmacy managers get the best outcomes from their team.

Another important element of effective collaboration is communication. It is essential that the pharmacy workforce can communicate clearly and efficiently. This can be achieved with workable communication channels, especially between staff whose jobs are related. Communication gaps can lead to a breakdown in the organizational process which can be costly to clients and the pharmacy.

Also, delegating responsibilities can go a long way in helping members of staff with capacity building. Delegating some tasks to members of the pharmacy workforce gives them opportunities to learn about organizational processes4. However, delegating responsibilities might require some oversight from the pharmacy manager to ensure that the delegated task is well executed.

The state of the work environment goes a long way in affecting the quality of work done by staff. Happier employees perform better7. Apart from individual work, staff members work better in teams and have higher productivity levels. Once a pharmacy manager can build a happy work environment, the pharmacy would also attract some of the best talent available.

One of the common knotty areas for most pharmacy managers is managing the schedule rotation. Running a pharmacy requires that the premise is open at all necessary times. Closing the pharmacy at the wrong period can sometimes lead to major regulatory sanctions. The implication is that managers need to prepare a work rotation arrangement ahead of time. This way, staff members are well aware of their shifts ahead of time and can work towards it appropriately. In the event that any modification has to be made, staff can notify the manager ahead of time.

The rotation can affect the day-to-day running of the pharmacy. The pharmacy should not be understaffed at any time. On the other hand, having too many people working per time is not financially efficient for the business.

It would help to make plans for staff obligations such as public and personal holidays in creating the work rotation arrangement. All these help ensure that the pharmacy is open and running when necessary. There are digital tools that can help with managing staff rotation arrangements. Some of these tools can even help automate the process, so all the pharmacy manager needs to do is take a second look to make any necessary modifications.

Just like is obtainable in other work environments, conflicts are not always inevitable in a pharmacy. A pharmacy should also have conflict resolution mechanisms stated in the organizational process.

In conclusion, getting the best outcomes from the pharmacy workforce requires effective management. While this can sometimes seem complicated, it is easy and achievable with the right approach.

StaffReady is pleased to announce a new monthly webinar series for 2022. Our first session is entitled "Managing Employee Scheduling During a Pandemic". It is scheduled for January 17, 2022, at 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET. To register or read more information click here.

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  1. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Professions. Accessed 7 December 2021

  2. Global Health Workforce Alliance. Knowledge centre—a universal truth: no health without a workforce. 2013. Accessed 7 December 2021.

  3. Hunter, S.D., 2015. Combining theoretical perspectives on the organizational structure-performance relationship. Journal of Organization Design, 4(2), pp.24-37.

  4. Anstey, E., Fletcher, C. and Walker, J., 2017. Staff appraisal and development. Taylor & Francis.

  5. Nambour, M., Remenyte-Prescott, R. and Boyd, M.J., 2018. Reliability modelling of dispensing processes in community pharmacy. in Industrial Maintenance and Reliability Manchester, UK 12-15 June, 2018, p.103.

  6. Sandy Lee, Francis L. Collins & Rachel Simon-Kumar (2020) Healthy Diversity? The Politics of Managing Emotions in an Ethnically Diverse Hospital Workforce, Journal of Intercultural Studies, 41:4, 389-404, DOI: 10.1080/07256868.2020.1778655

  7. Sabir, A., 2017. Motivation: Outstanding way to promote productivity in employees. American Journal of Management Science and Engineering, 2(3), pp.35-40.

Francis Okeke, PharmD

Francis Okeke is a clinical pharmacist. He is adept at providing clinical and technical information to nurses, patients, and caregivers. He is well equipped with the best approaches and evidence-based practices of administering drugs and therapeutic procedures to patients. He obtained his first degrees at East Tennessee State University and Clemson University and studied further to obtain his Masters of Public Health at the Royal Institute of Health, Nigeria.