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Pharmacy Update: Strategies to Mitigate Staffing Shortages

The pandemic, increased workloads, and high levels of burnout have greatly contributed to the great resignation and staffing shortages. Difficult decisions need to be made quickly to avoid losing key employees and becoming even more short-staffed. Although there are several initiatives that can be implemented, to address staffing shortages, the following have proven to be the most impactful in improving employee retention/satisfaction. The first initiative is reskill and upskill training, the next is acting on employee feedback, and perhaps the most important is creating strategies that promote work-life balance.

The impact of staffing shortages now requires that employees learn new skills that may be outside of the original scope of their job descriptions. Reskilling focuses on training employees to do different roles and responsibilities. Upskilling enhances an employee’s current capabilities to help achieve the goal of promotion. These two techniques of professional development need to become part of the department culture. It is also imperative that training be made available on-site and remote to ensure the employees have adequate opportunities to receive the training and education. Learning new skills along with promotional opportunities often keep an employee engaged and motivated.

Decrease in staffing often leads to an increase of stress on employees. Therefore, it is crucial to solicit feedback from staff on a consistent cadence. Mangers should schedule regular, individual meetings with direct reports to obtain timely feedback and strengthen relationships. It is important to remember that obtaining feedback will only lead to partial success. To achieve maximum results, action must be applied to the feedback received. Demonstrating to employees that you’re not only willing to listen, but take action on key concerns/recommendations positively impacts retention and engagement.

When staffing shortages occur it is a natural reaction to rely more on your reliable high performing staff. The issue with putting more on the trustworthy few is that more often than not it leads to burnout which will only exacerbate the staff shortage problem. Instead of giving into natural impulses, management should work with employees to development work-life balance strategies. The employee schedule is usually the most high impact item used to achieve balance. Some successful schedule strategies include compressed work schedules which gives employees the option to work longer hours and less days per week. Flextime can also be offered to clinical team members in which they set their own hours versus working traditional hours. Lastly, implementing a hybrid model which allows employees to work remote a day or two can help reduce burnout and increase satisfaction. In addition to scheduling, pay incentives often act as a driver for satisfaction. It is important that employees are rightly compensated for all extra time.

Unfortunately with the ever changing landscape and continued uncertainty of events staffing shortages will continue to remain a challenge. Implementing impactful strategies into the department culture will be key to mitigating staff shortages while improving employee retention.  

References:
1. https://www.pharmactimes.com/publications   Accessed February 10, 2023

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