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Staff retention is not a lost cause

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Staff retention is not a lost cause

According to recent research by Microsoft, up to 54 per cent of Generation Z workers (those born between 1997 and 2012), and 41 per cent of the entire global workforce, could be considering handing in their resignation, writes solicitor Sam Lawn. This may be driven partly by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led employees to consider their job and career choices in the long-term. 

Undoubtedly, any shortage of talent may affect small and medium-sized pharmacies the most, as they may not be able to compete with some of the more competitive remuneration packages offered by larger companies. However, increasing salary budgets is not the only way to improve retention. Differentiating yourself from the competition and showing an awareness of market changes can work too.

Here are some options pharmacy owners might consider when seeking to improve their staff retention rates:

COMPETITIVE BENEFIT SCHEMES

Competitive benefits can certainly make advertised vacancies more attractive, but this does not necessarily mean that benefit packages need to be expanded and increased. Now is as good a time as any for pharmacy owners to review their benefits package and those of their competitors to identify room for improvement. 

Medical and dental insurance are frequently offered, but it may be worth exploring more flexible benefit options that allow employees to choose the benefits they access. For example, there has been an increased focus on mental health and wellbeing support for workers since the pandemic. There is therefore an opportunity for pharmacy owners to differentiate themselves and provide appropriate support for their staff. 

"Staff are unlikely to commit themselves to a business if they are unable to progress there"

As younger generations enter the workforce, their priorities will be very different from those at the later stages of their careers. Offerings will need to change over time to cater for their needs, if pharmacies wish to retain those staff over a long-term period.

INTERNAL MOBILITY AND TRAINING

We are in unprecedented economic times and pharmacies may not have the budget to make drastic changes to benefits. The pandemic has also increased the focus of many on non-remuneration issues, which may provide opportunities for pharmacy owners to get ahead of their competitors without throwing money at the problem. 

Many workers will be keen to ensure that they have access to progressive training and development opportunities within the business. Staff are unlikely to commit themselves to a business if they are unable to progress there.

Pharmacies should consider internal mobility as a way to retain talented individuals. Ongoing training can be a useful way to create long-term relationships and is mutually beneficial to both parties. Hiring from within, with the assistance of bespoke development plans, will help to limit attrition and fill vacancies with candidates who have a proven cultural fit within the pharmacy. 

This may take the form of ‘vertical’ transitions, as employees are promoted within pharmacies, or ‘horizontal’ transitions, where employees move into other areas or assume different responsibilities they may have more interest in. 

Rather than losing employees who wish to transition to another area of the pharmacy sector, an internally mobile business will increase communication to allow employees to demonstrate the areas they are more interested in.

HYBRID WORKING ARRANGEMENTS

The pandemic has also had an impact in terms of promoting a shift towards homeworking and, more generally, a more flexible approach to work. 

While some large employers are seeking to enforce a return to the office (for example, Elon Musk introduced a strict return-to-office policy on short notice at Tesla), remote working is clearly favoured by many employees who saw the benefit of it during lockdown. 

Microsoft’s recent research determined that over 70 per cent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, and businesses are beginning to redesign their working spaces to accommodate flexible working on a daily basis. 

Although it’s obviously more difficult for pharmacy owners, given the need for businesses to be open to the public, failing to offer flexible arrangements where this is possible, means businesses may struggle to retain staff. 

While not all roles are appropriate for a homeworking setup, pharmacy owners should ask themselves whether their arrangements encourage and place trust in employees and allow them the flexibility to thrive. 

The above is a general overview. We recommend that independent legal advice is sought for your specific concerns.

Sam Lawn is an associate solicitor in the pharmacy transactions employment team, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP 

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