Keith Loria is a contributing writer to Medical Economics.
Asking for better pay, hours, or work benefits can be intimidating for pharmacists, but these strategies can help you get the rewards you deserve.
One of the most nerve-racking aspects of any job is a discussion about a raise or better hours or working conditions, as most individuals are shy about advocating for themselves. Still, hardworking pharmacists like you need to ask for what they deserve, whether it be a higher salary, weekends off, or another perk they consider essential.
Here are 5 tips on how pharmacists can get what they want.
1. Provide Evidence of Your Worth
“Whether it’s a new position you are seeking or [negotiations about] your current position, remind your employer why you are the right person for the job, what strengths you bring, and how you will make others around you better practitioners,” said Alex Luli, PharmD, BCACP, assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Diego, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, who also practices in a community pharmacy. Be prepared to show the impact your work has made on the pharmacy. “Besides obtaining feedback from other colleagues, ask the patients or customers,” Luli said. “They can be very powerful advocates when they mention the great care you have given them, and many will be glad to help you out.”
Also remind your employer about a project for which you went above and beyond or a tough situation that you helped resolve, even when it was inconvenient for you or not part of your job responsibilities. If your boss is a stats person, then walk through the door with your figures in hand and show your worth in dollars. If you know what buttons your boss likes pushed, go ahead and push them.
2. Ask Around
Whether you talk with your fellow pharmacists or look to peers on a message board or in pharmacy group, ask others when they requested a pay raise, what they said, and how they prepared. Take aspects of their winning formula and adopt it to your approach.
3. Don’t Think About Only Money
Sure, a bigger paycheck is always nice, but consider asking for perks such as better hours and benefits. Luli noted that these negotiations often involve quite a bit of wiggle room. “Many people focus only on salary when negotiating, but there are many other things your employer may be able to provide that are valuable,” he said. “How about discussing increasing your vacation time? Maybe the ability to work remotely 1 or 2 days a week?”
Other options include reimbursement for parking fees, tuition reimbursement, and even moving responsibilities off your plate so you can focus on more rewarding aspects of your job. Discussing these benefits can always be framed as a benefit to not only you but also your employer or team,” Luli added.
4. Never Threaten to Leave
Pharmacists are critical health care providers, and you may think you are irreplaceable, but that doesn’t mean you should threaten to quit if you don’t get what you want. Aaron Gilbert, PharmD, a pharmacist in Louisville, Kentucky, noted that today’s employers hold most of the cards because the pharmacy industry is currently a saturated market. “As long as there are enough pharmacists willing to do the unreasonable tasks that are demanded, the employer will have the upper hand,” he said. “I recommend more pharmacists look for employment in places where reasonable expectations are set and hours are more in line with what they desire, even at the expense of higher pay. When there are not enough pharmacists who will do what the [what some of the big chain pharmacies] of the world are demanding, only then will change happen.”
5. Speak Up
Finally, remember to simply ask for what you want—because chances are your boss won’t just hand you raises and benefits. If your employer can’t offer what you’re asking for now, maybe they can in the future. Discuss the key metrics of your evaluation and how you can best fulfill them. That way, when the timing is right and you spark up the conversation again, you will have some leverage in getting what you deserve.