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4 key strategies to get staff to buy in and stay in at your pharmacy

patient service

They're worth their weight in gold: those loyal, experienced employees who add so much to your pharmacy's success. They're often the ones who answer customers' questions, find products on the shelf, and help make your pharmacy more than just another drugstore.

With anywhere from five to 30 years of experience under their belts, they’re a steadying influence on your pharmacy, they rarely miss a day of work, and their familiar faces and knowledge of products and services keep your customers coming back.

“Customers want to see the same face they’ve seen in the store for many years; it makes them feel confident and safe and gives a pharmacy that homey atmosphere,” says Donnie Edwards, co-owner of Boggio & Edwards IDA pharmacy in Ridgeway, ON

So, how do you retain these gold-star employees?

Salaries: Money still talks. Reward long-term employees in their pay packets. In addition to annual increases paid to all employees, offer veteran staff something extra for each year of service. At Boggio & Edwards IDA, raises are based on financial results, but veteran employees are paid 20 per cent more per hour to recognize their experience and long service.

Responsibilities: Experienced staff who do a first-rate job should be offered promotions that take advantage of their experience. Offer opportunities to move up within the company, and also to earn more money and enjoy other perks of long-term employment.

“Pharmacies should (also) give these employees diversity in their job description,” says Edwards. “You should have employees who are jacks of all trades and know each other’s jobs and not simply define them as a cashier or a frontshop manager.”

Time off: While the opportunity to earn more money is always an incentive for top employees to stay with you, it is not the only one. Other perks are also important in keeping staff happy, engaged...and with you. Intangibles such as additional holiday time to be with families, reduced work weeks as retirement approaches, flex time to deal with family situations, job-sharing are all other inducements to create a happy, long-serving work team.

Perks: These are not limited to experienced staff, but senior staff should also not be overlooked when they’re doled out. Rewards are also welcome, especially if they include the personal touch, such as gift cards, restaurant dinners, spa visits, or birthday celebrations.

Donnie Edwards has been known to schedule events outside the workplace for his staff, including a summer golf tournament, a Christmas party, fund-raising events in the community and dragon boat races every summer. Employees at one of his stores once helped build a playground and raised funds at the store during “dress down” days. Employees are rewarded with a visit to a spa on their birthdays.

“It’s all about showing our employees, new hires and experienced, that we care about them,” he says.

Instilling the spirit of teamwork is bound to pay off in an experienced and motivated roster of employees.

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