Britney Beck, founder and chief people strategist at Hi-Wire HR Consulting, discusses how pharmacists can navigate the current challenges in the labor market.
The current labor market is challenging for employers in pretty much every field—and independent pharmacies are no exception. Figuring out how to recruit high-performing employees while retaining old ones is no longer an easy task. However, there are some practical strategies that you can use to navigate these difficult times.
Drug Topics sat down with Britney Beck, founder and chief people strategist at Hi-Wire HR Consulting, at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) 2023 Annual Convention and Expo to discuss some key tips that pharmacists can utilize.
Drug Topics:Recruitment has become a serious challenge for many businesses, including pharmacies. Why is it essential for employers to adapt their recruitment strategies in the current labor market?
Britney Beck: Adapting recruitment strategies based on the labor market is really no different than adapting your business strategies as the industry changes, right? So, if you're not doing this, then you end up just spinning your wheels and gaining no reward for it. The labor market is the biggest clue that you can get to identify what [you] should be doing to attract candidates. Right now, we have the lowest unemployment levels we've seen, but yet we have the highest job openings. And so that means there are fewer job seekers, but a lot more jobs to be sought. And so, you're now competing with everyone in every industry, not just other pharmacies, right. And to top that off, we have employees who are more comfortable switching jobs in pursuit of higher pay or better working conditions or growth opportunities. And they've had a change in what's valuable to them, and what they want and what they expect in work. If you're not basing your recruitment strategies on those types of factors, then [that’s] going to result in less effective recruitment.
Drug Topics: Can you provide some tips on recruitment strategies that employees can use to attract new candidates and how to find those that fit into the company’s culture?
Beck: I'll start with culture, in the sense that I think that a lot of people try to fit people into this culture box right, and then they end up boxing themselves in. In reality, we should be searching for people who add to our culture, who enhance it. Culture starts with the organization's core values. “Who are we? And how do we work?” As well as “What is our vision and our mission?” Identifying that, understanding what your culture is first, and what you want it to be. Then you can identify who are the types of people that will add to [that[.
The second part of that recruitment strategy, I'll give just a few, and that is your recruitment needs to be based on positions. General recruitment activities or strategies aren’t going to work for every position because you're seeking different types of people. What I need in a pharmacist is going to be different than what I need in a cashier and those two types of people are in different places. For example, if I'm hiring a pharmacist, I might use LinkedIn as one of my sources because pharmacists are on LinkedIn. But if I'm hiring a cashier, LinkedIn is not going to be an effective source for me, so I'm not necessarily going to use that. So, base your strategies on the position itself.
The second thing I would say is do something different, right? Because the labor market is different now. What you were doing three, five years ago, is not going to be effective today. We have, like I said, fewer actual job seekers, but your candidates aren't just job seekers. If you're only using a single source, like indeed, for example, you're missing all sorts of other candidates and you're in what I like to call the ‘red oceans,’ where everyone's flooding that particular source. You have to now double and triple the amount of advertisement that you did before, so do something different than you've been doing. And along those lines, be creative. We're in a time where videos are incredibly popular. TikToc is very popular. So, even just engaging your staff members to do a recruitment video, you're going to catch attention, because it's different. You're going to show your employer brand, what it's like to work for you, you're going to show off your pharmacy. You're marketing your pharmacy, you're marketing yourself as an employer, and you're engaging your staff, which they love. You're killing three birds with one stone. Get creative. Do something different and make sure that you're strategizing based on position.
Drug Topics: Internal growth is vital for retaining talented employees. What are some specific strategies or examples you can provide on how to implement effective career pathing in a pharmacy?
Beck: Okay, well in my session, I give 10 Steps to Creating a career path but I'll narrow them down for you here. There's two types of career pathing that you can do. We can go long term, where we're focused on 3, 5, 10 years from now, and we can go short term, which is how can I do this right now with the stuff I have?
Long term is taking your business strategy and looking at your vision and aligning it to your business plan. “If I want to grow and if I want to expand my services, these are the roles that I'm going to need to make that happen.” Identifying what those roles are and then pathing out, mapping out, how can existing employees reach from position A to position E for the short term, which is probably what more people want to focus on right now, is taking a specific job that might seem flat, pharmacy technician is a really good example of that, and thinking “How can I expand this role so that my current employees have the ability to grow and develop in this type of role?” For example, taking a pharmacy tech and creating levels, creating lead technicians or supervising technicians or technicians over particular programs like med sync or compounding, and identifying what can be different about these roles. What higher responsibilities can the tech 2 have versus 1. What education or experience requirements should it have? And then what should the pay be? Creating those levels, which is more traditional career ladder in that sense, and then again, showing employees how [they] can progress in the organization.
Drug Topics: Are there any additional points you would like talk about that we haven’t touched on?
Beck: Well, I’ll take the opportunity to say that your employees run your business, but they can also shut it down very quickly. The old mentality of “Their paycheck is enough reward,” doesn't work. There has to be a heavy focus on retention and engagement. The other side of that is employment laws. I run into so many business owners in every industry, pharmacy not excluded, that just they don't understand how many federal and state employment laws actually apply to them. They expose themselves to risk on that front. Even if you just have one employee, you have over a dozen federal laws that apply to you. That doesn't even count state. So, ensuring that you are educated just like you educate yourself on pharmacy law. You have to be educated on the employment law side, which is not fun, right? Who wants to do that? But that's why people like me, companies like mine, exist, so that we can help business owners. That's why I have stayed in the pharmacy industry, is to help these business owners with their human resources with their people, help them identify and minimize risks and design success through their people.