9 Signs Your Pharmacy Employees Are Overworked (and How to Stop It) 

6 Signs Your Pharmacy Needs a Change

An independent pharmacy is a busy place, and employees need to keep many plates spinning. But if there are too many responsibilities, one or two of those plates will eventually get dropped and shatter.

Burnout is bad for your employees and your business. On the employee end, it can lead to health problems, anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep. In turn, overburdened employees lead to an underproductive pharmacy. Employees won’t be able to concentrate on their job, and they can become short-tempered with patients and co-workers.

Look out for these signs to tell if your pharmacy employees are feeling overworked.

9 Signs Your Employees are Overworked

Employees might not come right out and tell you that they have too much work and too little time. But if you notice any of these things happening around your pharmacy, it could mean your staff is stretched too thin.

1. Habitual lateness

In a work environment like a pharmacy, showing up on time is crucial to making sure you have enough coverage. But employees who are stressed or overworked may not make it a priority to be on time every day.

If one or more of your staff members are making a habit of arriving five, ten, or fifteen minutes late for their scheduled shift, overwork might be the culprit.

2. Playing the blame game

When there are too many responsibilities spread across too few people, important tasks are inevitably going to get dropped. In those cases, your employees may point the finger at their co-workers instead of taking responsibility for the mistake.

If employees are shifting blame onto their co-workers, they may be indirectly telling you that they have too much on their plate.

3. High emotions

Crying, angry outbursts, and anxious irritability are not normal reactions to workplace demands. Your staff members should be able to keep their emotions in check so they can best serve patients, but if things are spilling into their work duties, don’t assume it’s their problem.

The higher the workload, the more pressure builds, making displays of unprofessional emotions more likely. Outbursts should not be a common occurrence.

4. More sick days, fewer vacation days

Employees who feel overworked and overwhelmed are more likely to call in sick at the last minute. Stress in the workplace can lead to physical health problems like digestive issues and heart problems, leading to more sick days. But employees also may be calling in sick because they can’t bear the thought of coming into the pharmacy that day.

On the other hand, overworked employees tend to take fewer planned vacation days because they feel they can’t be spared for a long period of time. If your employees fall into a pattern of lots of sick days but no vacations, that’s a red flag for overwork.

5. High turnover

If a high workload makes employees dread coming to the pharmacy for their shift, they’ll probably prioritize finding another, less stressful job.

When you are creating job postings for the same positions over and over because you can’t find someone for the long term, it’s a sign that you need to re-evaluate the duties of that position. It could be too much for a single person to handle and set new staff members up for failure.

6. Lower customer satisfaction

Customer service tends to suffer when employees are scrambling to get their basic duties accomplished — it’s harder to be friendly when there’s a mountain of work weighing on your conscience.

Keep an eye on your online reviews. If there’s an upswing in patients reporting subpar or unpleasant experiences with staff, your employees might have too much on their minds to remember their customer service fundamentals.

7. Long hours

Every once in a while, employees may end up working through a lunch break or staying longer than their shift to get their work done. However, this shouldn’t be the norm. Not only does it add up to unplanned overtime hours for your payroll, but every missed lunch or late night can create resentment from your staff and make them less satisfied with their jobs.

8. Revealing comments

Employees might not come out and say they are feeling overworked, but offhand comments can reveal a lot. If you hear someone joking, “I practically live at the job,” or occasionally sniping at their colleagues, don’t write it off as a one-time thing. These types of comments could be an underlying sign of overwork.

9. No camaraderie

You want your staff members to feel like a team. But if they don’t trust each other to get all the necessary work done, camaraderie can be hard to come by. Instead of relying on their coworkers, certain employees may take on more responsibilities to ensure everything gets done.

Lack of communication in these situations also makes it harder to spread responsibilities across the pharmacy.

How to Prevent Overwork

These are a few steps you can take to prevent overwork and burnout.

Model healthy boundaries

If the boss never seems to fully clock out, it creates an expectation for employees that they should always be available, too. This means that if you want employees to have a healthy work-life balance, you have to have a healthy work-life balance.

Always take your full lunch break, and don’t make a show of burning the midnight oil. Once employees have left for the day, don’t text or call them with work-related issues unless it’s truly an emergency.

Encourage time off

In a busy work environment, it could become something like a badge of honor for employees to never take a vacation day.

Nip that attitude in the bud by giving your full-time staff a generous allotment of PTO and encouraging them to use it. You can even require that employees take a certain amount of time off every year to ensure they are getting enough time away from the pharmacy to truly disconnect.

Schedule appropriately

Be thoughtful about the schedule you create to ensure there are enough people on hand to do what needs to be done.

If you have the bare minimum number of staff members on the clock during the pharmacy’s rush hours, people will inevitably get pulled in several different directions. If stress is still high when you have all hands on deck, think about hiring another team member to pick up the slack.

Distribute tasks clearly

When handing out work assignments, make it clear who is responsible for what tasks. Instead of saying, “The shelves need to be tidied and prescriptions need to be returned to stock,” say, “Bob should tidy the shelves and Suzie should work on returning items to stock.”

Without these specific instructions, the work may fall disproportionately to one person, creating overwork for them while other employees twiddle their thumbs.


A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.


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