5 Common Staffing Mistakes Pharmacies Make…and How to Avoid Them
Posted on Nov 28, 2023
When pharmacies are evaluating their expenses for ways to increase their profitability, one critical area is often overlooked – their staffing. The irony is, that of all the things that impact your bottom line, from DIR fees to reimbursement rates, staffing is one of the only areas a pharmacy can control. In fact, there are several ways to adjust your approach to staffing to ensure your pharmacy is operating as efficiently and profitably as possible. Here are five common staffing mistakes pharmacies make, and how to avoid them.
1. Hiring because you feel busy.
Think about how you currently assess your staffing needs. How are you determining when it’s time to hire? If you’re going off how you or your staff feels instead of using reports and data, you may wind up hiring unnecessarily. In fact, after reviewing things like your store volume, the average number of scripts being processed per hour and identifying your peak times, you may find that a scheduling adjustment or modifications to your store hours may be all that’s needed. Here are some examples:
- Your reports may indicate that most of your scripts are being processed during a specific window of time. This helps you to pinpoint when you’ll need the most help, and where you can scale back.
- If your volume is low first thing in the morning or later in the evening, you may not need to be open as early or late as you are. By adjusting your store hours, you can reallocate your staff to help cover your peak times instead.
- If your first or last hour of the day are the busiest, this may signal you need to extend your hours slightly. By opening an hour earlier, or staying open an hour later, it can help spread out the demand so it’s more manageable for the staff your already have.
The bottom line? Hiring more staff isn’t always the answer to your problem.
2. Exclusively hiring full-time help.
Next, think about how you’re deciding who to hire. Often, pharmacy owners go straight to hiring full-time help, but two part-time employees may be a better solution – and less costly in the long run. This is especially true if your store does not stay consistently busy throughout the day. To help you decide which option is best for your pharmacy, here are some things to consider:
- Full-time staff can offer more stability and consistency for your store. However, the cost per employee will be higher because you’ll need to provide healthcare and other benefits like holiday pay and overtime.
- Part-time staff provide increased flexibility with scheduling and often require less benefits, which saves you money as well. However, they may not be as committed or reliable as full-time staff.
Hiring is not one-size fits all. It’s important to think about the amount of work or tasks you’re hiring for and your pharmacy’s budget to determine what type of employee(s) will best fit your needs.
3. Not doing your homework on compensation.
Once you’ve determined your staffing needs, it’s time to think about compensation. Rather than just picking the amount you’d like to pay someone, be sure to spend time researching compensation averages for your area. Without this information you may wind up over or underpaying your staff, and both can affect your store’s bottom line. For example,
- Overpaying staff members ties up your cash flow.
- Underpaying makes it challenging to attract and retain quality staff members.
Fortunately, there are several resources you can use to obtain compensation information, including salary research sites like Glassdoor and SalaryExpert or the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. All these sites make it easy to determine the median pay by role/occupation and experience level.
4. Manually managing shift activity and payroll.
After you’ve assembled your pharmacy team, you’ll need a way to manage all your employees both on a day-to-day basis and overtime. This includes keeping track of:
- Shift activity, from start and end times to breaks and lunches.
- Overtime, holiday hours and paid time off.
- Pay rates, raises and discretionary bonuses.
Trying to do this manually can quickly become tedious, prone to errors and cause delays with your payroll. Over time, this can lead to disgruntled employees. That’s why it’s so important to automate these tasks using a payroll platform and BestRx’s Employee Time Clock feature. You’ll be able to record all employee activity and run reports to view staffing trends and assist with payroll, right from your pharmacy software.
5. Not leveraging technology to automate repetitive steps in your workflow.
The final step is to assess your workflow to ensure you’re getting the most out of your staff. Look for repetitive tasks that could be done using technology, versus manually by your team. This could include:
- Using a robot or countertop counting machine.
- An IVR integration, which syncs phoned-in refill requests to your software’s refill queue automatically.
- Electronic patient alerts, for refill and pickup reminders, delivery status and more.
- Automating steps in your refill fulfillment process – during the day and overnight.
Think of technology as part of your team. While it may not be able to do everything your staff can do, it can be used to streamline many time-consuming tasks so you can focus on what matters – your patients.
The next time you’re evaluating your expenses, remember who you hire and how they’re utilized matters. It affects not only your productivity, but your pharmacy’s profitability as well. Request a free demo for more information on how BestRx can help.