The Stress of Pharmacy Staffing and Preparing for Millennials…

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In the previous edition of Insight, I said, “One competitive opportunity that never changes in pharmacy services is the percentage of your current customers who would recommend you to others.” I also mentioned, “Accomplishing high percentage scores requires a full-court press inside your operation for every employee to excel.”1

In this issue, I explore the challenges of hiring enough pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to support increased customer service expectations, especially within an increasingly competitive recruiting future and a younger candidate pool.

Good or Bad News First?

The good news is that the average age of pharmacists nationally is 42.9 years.2 Hopefully, this means those individuals will be in the workforce for a while.

The bad news is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects pharmacy technician employment to grow nine percent between 2014 and 2024, exceeding all other occupations. More than 34,000 additional pharmacy technicians will need to be educated, hired and retained during that period.3

Embrace Your Future Workforce
Given that the largest labor force in America is now Millennials (born 1980-2000); they will most likely represent the bulk of your future hires. Before I address reaching, recruiting, hiring and retaining Millennials, let us challenge some of the perceptions about that generation.

  • MYTH: They are dependent upon their parents. FACT: More of them live on their own or with a roommate than any previous generation.
  • MYTH: They are the most self-involved generation. FACT: They favor jobs that affect social change. In fact, a study found that three-quarters gave to a charity; 6 percent have volunteered for a cause.
  • MYTH: They have short attention spans. FACT: There is no evidence to support this theory. In addition, multitasking is on the rise in every age group.
  • MYTH: They do not want to pay their dues. FACT: They have seen tough times and worry about money and job security. The economic downturn hit them hard, too.
  • MYTH: They do not want to settle down. FACT: They wait longer to marry, but according to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent want to marry at some point. They also believe that being a great parent and balancing work and life are important goals.4

Reaching Out to Millennials

Engaging Millennials enough to apply for a position within your pharmacy requires a different tactic. The “post and pray” method of recruiting will not work. Less than 40 percent of Millennials reported using traditional job boards like Monster® or CareerBuilder®. Your attention is better spent on LinkedIn® and Indeed® (which 52 and 60 percent of Millennials use respectively). Forty-seven percent of Millennials use their mobile devices to look for and apply for jobs.5 An investment to enable candidates to apply using their smartphones will pay off.

Pharmacy technicians already know what pharmacy technicians do. Using a lot of job listing space to reiterate job tasks is a turn-off – and sounds like drudgery. Millennials want to know about your culture, what it will be like to work in your organization and your impact: what you do to (and how they can) make the world a better place.

Interviewing Millennials

Behavior-based interviewing is always the way to go. Asking questions about someone’s past experiences/efforts is the greatest indicator of future actions. If you want to gauge work ethic or customer service commitment, ask questions like the following: Tell me about a time you had a tough goal to accomplish. How did you keep yourself motivated? Can you share the best advice anyone ever gave you about what it means to go above and beyond at work?

If you want to know if they are manageable, ask what types of feedback do you hope to hear from your supervisor?

Sing your organization’s praises during interviews. Eighty-two percent of Millennials look at online reviews (Yelp®, etc.) before extending their buying power.6 Millennials need to be sold on why you are a great choice, and what others think about you matters. Two key metrics to extol are the percentage of customers who would recommend you to others and the percentage of your current staff who recommend working in your pharmacy.

Because Millennials believe others their own age, give your Millennial candidates time to chat with potential peers and ask questions about what it is really like to be a part of the team. If they are Facebook-ing each other at the end, it most likely went well.

On-Boarding Millennials

If sink or swim is your orientation approach, anticipate Millennials will sink. Create an orientation syllabus of what will be covered and when. Flip your thinking about exit interviews – from the point in time when someone quits to when someone is just starting. At the end of the first day, week and/or month, ask your Millennial hires: How do YOU think things are going? Is there anything I could have done a better job explaining? Are there things that you think I could do to improve our orientation program? Their perspective will be invaluable going forward.

What They Actually Want (and Expect) from You

Fifty-two percent said career progression made employers attractive. Sixty-five percent said personal development was the most influential factor in their current job.7

Millennials also valued being part of an organization with a solid social media presence. If you handle this right, you have an entire cadre of cheerleaders who will use social media to enhance your standing as an employer. Give Millennials cool stuff to post and share about your organization – anything from business accomplishments to charitable endeavors, and the company picnic is worthy information.

Keeping Millennials Engaged

The number one reason Millennials quit their jobs is poor leadership. They want a mentor and a coach – not a boss. Interactions that provide feedback need to be frequent. “Sixty-nine percent say the traditional annual work review is flawed; 62 percent have been caught off guard by a performance review, and 75 percent say they feel in the dark about how they are doing most of the time.”8 That is a big problem that needs to be addressed quickly.

This is not about false praise or some imagined Millennial mindset. It is about their legitimate desire to do better and the expectation that you will commit to helping them get there.

Your feedback has to be meaningful. If you want to drive home what your customer service philosophy is all about, it will not resonate, if you simply say things like, “You did a good job with Mrs. Smith.” It WILL have an impact, if you say, “I like how you handled that situation. You asked Mrs. Smith the right questions to understand her expectations and then you presented her with options.” The second example speaks to your expectations of the staffs’ customer engagement, responsiveness and attitude.

One Last Thing

Millennials’ sheer numbers in the workforce will give them added influence, and that is not a bad thing. They think work should be about collaboration, respect, growth opportunities, balance and expect it all to take place in a nurturing environment. That sounds like a place I’d like to work. How about you?

1 Brubaker. Lou Ann. “The New Facility Census: Enhancing Your Pharmacy’s Value Proposition.” Insight. Web. July 2016. http://cdn.qs1.com/download/insight/2016/July/files/assets/basic-html/page-1.html
2 “Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians: Facts and Figures.” Department for Professional Employees. July 2016. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. http://dpeaflcio.org/programs-publications/issue-fact-sheets/pharmacists-and-pharmacy-technicians-facts-and-figures/
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Pharmacy Technicians. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm
4 Glassman, Mark. “Five myths about millennials.” The Washington Post. Aug. 30, 2013. Web. 26 Aug. 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-millennials/2013/08/30/a6d9a854-ff6c-11e2-9711-3708310f6f4d_story.html?utm_term=.87209b9486f8
5 Kibben, Katrina. “Wild & Crazy Kids: Millennial Hiring Trends Every Employer Needs To Know.” Recruiting Daily. June 26, 2015. Web. 26 Aug. 2016. http://recruitingdaily.com/wild-crazy-kids-millennial-hiring-trends-every-employer-needs-to-know/
6 Ruiz-Elejalde, Erica. “Survey says more than half of shoppers check online reviews.” Chicago Tribune. June 2, 2015. Web. 26 Aug. 2016. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-mintel-online-reviews-0603-biz-20150602-story.html
7 Wiederin, Tom. “How to Attract and Keep Top Millennial Talent.” Inside Indianan Business. Feb. 24, 2016. Web. 26 Aug. 2016. http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/31301505/how-to-attract-and-keep-top-millennial-talent
8 “How do your Millennial employees react to performance reviews?” HRM Asia. Oct. 2015. Web. 26 Aug. 2016. http://www.hrmasia.com/content/how-do-your-millennial-employees-react-performance-reviews

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