Employers must make changes in order to hire and retain high-quality talent.
The pharmacy technician workforce is undergoing a significant transformation, with job openings, turnover rates, and workforce dissatisfaction presenting both challenges and opportunities for employers. With nearly two-thirds of states experiencing higher than average job opening rates, there is a clear need for employers to not only attract but also retain top talent. In this article, we will explore the current state of the pharmacy technician workforce and highlight the opportunities available for employers to secure valuable employees by focusing on improved compensation and career growth opportunities.
The rate of job openings for pharmacy technicians in 2023 is higher than the national average: 6.6%, compared with the national average of 5.8%.1,2 Although this represents a significant drop in the percentage of job openings compared with 2022, it still underscores the challenges faced by the industry. Regions such as the West, Mountain/ Plains, and New England are particularly hard hit, with job opening rates of 8.7%, 7.7%, and 7.7% respectively.1
The high turnover and vacancy rates in health-system pharmacies further compound the issue. According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, health-system pharmacies are experiencing turnover rates of between 21% and 30%, with average vacancies ranging from 20.8% for ambulatory settings to 22.2% for inpatient settings.3
A significant portion of the pharmacy technician workforce leave their positions because of lack of pay/incentives (75%), lack of career opportunities (72%), workload (71%), staffing shortages (68%), and general working conditions (61%).4 As a result, employers face considerable costs in hiring and training new employees.
On average, the cost to hire a new employee is $4700, and the cost to train a new employee is just under $1300.5,6 This means that the total average hard cost for replacing an employee is approximately $6000. This does not account for the potential decreased productivity and team morale that can accompany employee turnover.
Employers have a unique opportunity to stand out and secure top talent by focusing on improved compensation and opportunities for career growth. By addressing the primary reasons for employees leaving, employers can not only attract new talent but also retain their existing workforce, which will reduce turnover costs and foster a more stable work environment.
Employers should consider offering competitive salaries, bonuses, and other financial incentives. This may include sign-on bonuses, performance-based bonuses, or tuition reimbursement for continuing education.
Employers also can focus on providing clear pathways for career advancement within the organization. This may involve offering additional training, mentoring programs, and opportunities for employees to take on more responsibilities and leadership roles. By investing in the professional development of their workforce, employers can create a more satisfied, engaged, and loyal team.
The current state of the pharmacy technician workforce presents both challenges and opportunities for employers. By addressing compensation and career growth, employers can differentiate themselves in a competitive market and secure valuable employees. In turn, this investment in the workforce will not only reduce the costs associated with employee turnover but also contribute to a more stable, productive, and satisfied team, ultimately benefiting the organization and the patients it serves.
If you’re looking for resources or support with recruiting, training/development or retention of pharmacy technicians, go to www.rxworkforce.org.
Mike Johnston, CPhT, is the founder and CEO of the National Pharmacy Technician Association.