How to Create an Effective Pharmacy Schedule for Employees

How to Create an Effective Pharmacy Schedule for Employees by Elements magazine |

Inside: Creating a pharmacy schedule isn’t a glorious task. But it’s essential to create order and to ensure employees meet patients’ needs. Learn the best ways to create an effective pharmacy schedule for employees.

The dreaded staff schedule.

Few tasks are as tedious and necessary as creating a pharmacy schedule for employees.

Mapping out a complex pharmacy schedule requires balancing employee needs and preferences with the demands of the pharmacy business.

Scheduling too many or too few employees hurts the pharmacy’s bottom line. Too many employees and the business overpays. Too few and employees can’t keep up with patients’ needs.

On top of that, making employees unhappy will ultimately hurt the pharmacy’s bottom line. And, it can nudge them toward other employment opportunities.

And you (or a manager) have to complete all of this work on top of every other responsibility that comes with running and managing a business.

But if get your scheduling right, you maximize your bottom line.

So, how can you create a schedule that helps employee satisfaction, productivity, and efficiency?

Use a few proven strategies to create a pharmacy schedule that works for everyone.


6 Tips to Create a Pharmacy Schedule That Makes Everyone Happy

Creating a pharmacy schedule that keeps everyone happy and the business operating efficiently takes serious coordination.

Some of the considerations in a weekly pharmacy staff schedule include:

  • Employees all have different availability
  • Employees prefer certain shifts over others
  • Some employees require or demand certain shifts and a certain number of hours
  • Employees want to work more hours than are available
  • Preferences and needs of employees often directly conflict with one another

Keep your independent pharmacy running smoothly with these scheduling strategies.

1. Hire good employees

Hiring good employees will solve most scheduling problems.

Good employees are flexible. They understand that the schedule needs to account for everyone’s needs and preferences, as well as do what’s best for the business.

Good employees work well with others. When co-workers mesh, they’re more likely to cooperate with schedules that fit for everyone, not just themselves.

Good employees contribute good ideas. Employees are in the day-to-day trenches. They’re in the best position to spot inefficiencies and to identify where the schedule can improve.

Good employees have good attitudes. Even if they don’t get the schedule they want, good employees respond maturely and patiently, even as they bring the problem to your attention.

Entitled employees, on the other hand, won’t be happy unless they get exactly what they want. If you can’t mold the schedule to their whims, they’ll complain, be unproductive, and bring down employee morale.

2. Listen to employees’ feedback

Allow employees to explain how the schedule is affecting them and what changes would help them be more satisfied and more productive.

When they feel powerless, they’re more likely to become bitter and frustrated.

When they know they have your ear, they’ll feel empowered and appreciated.

Put a feedback system in place for all employees to equally voice their opinions without fear of repercussion.

3. Get to know your employees

The more you know your employees, the better you can create a schedule for them.

You’ll react better to last-minute requests or changes because you’ll understand the reasons behind them.

And you’ll create a schedule that fits every employee’s lifestyle and needs, which will minimize frequent changes and no-shows. It will also make your employees more satisfied.

4. Make it easy for employees to request changes

Enable your employees to request time off or schedule changes without hassle when they need to.

That means responding without anger or irritation. And without making them feel guilty.

But that doesn’t mean letting employees take advantage of your flexibility.

Signs to identify illegitimate scheduling requests:

  • Constantly needing shift changes
  • Consistently missing shifts
  • Calling in sick last minute
  • Not finding replacements for missed shifts
  • Always asking for time slots that avoid the hard tasks
  • Frequently asking to leave early

5. Adapt the schedule when needed

Don’t think of your staff schedule as written in stone. Just because you’ve found a working rhythm for a while doesn’t mean it’ll continue to work in the future.

For example, does your scheduling anticipate your pharmacy’s natural business cycles? Does it adjust appropriately to seasonal demands?

A smart pharmacy manager can adapt the pharmacy schedule to perfectly meet changing pharmacy demands. That means never having too many employees, which will waste money. And it means never having too few, which won’t keep up with patients’ needs.

6. Communicate the big picture

Employees need the know the why behind your scheduling decisions. If they don’t, they may grow bitter and resentful.

Explain specific decisions that are out of the norm. For example, if you schedule an employee for an extra shift to meet a foreseen surge in patients, let him know that.

Also, explain your general approach to scheduling. An explanation will help employees connect your decisions with the goals of the pharmacy business.

And it will ensure your scheduling choices align with pharmacy needs. If you can’t reasonably explain your scheduling choices, you might need to rethink how you schedule.


Avoid These 3 Scheduling Tactics That Annoy Pharmacy Employees

Be considerate of employees.

Well-intentioned managers sometimes unknowingly abuse their employees with their scheduling techniques.

When you create your pharmacy schedule, avoid these tactics that’ll upset employees in a hurry.

1. Extending shifts without warning

Don’t force employees to work beyond their scheduled time. Few things irk employees as much as unexpected additional hours.

If your pharmacy is so busy that you can’t afford employees to clock out, offer them incentives to stay, such as overtime pay. If they can’t stay late, don’t make them feel guilty or hold it against them.

When employees don’t feel appreciated for doing their duty, they’ll look for another job.

And, if you’ve hired good employees who get along, they’re more likely to work extended shifts to help one another.

2. Create the schedule at the last minute

Employees need more than a few days to plan their life.

The farther in advance you make the schedule, the more time they have to plan. Advance notice will make them happier and more reliable.

Advance notice will also prevent employees from having to make last-minute schedule shifts and changes that cause headaches for everyone.

3. Change the schedule at the last minute

Once you’ve set the pharmacy schedule, don’t change it.

Let’s say you place an employee on the schedule to help with vaccine demand the opening day of flu season. But your vaccine shipment doesn’t arrive, so you don’t need the employee anymore.

Instead of canceling the employee’s shift, find other ways to utilize her. Or, ask if she’d like the day off and let her make the choice. The employee might have been relying on the income from that shift.


How to Easily Make a Pharmacy Schedule

Are you still writing out your schedule by hand?

Digital schedules streamline every aspect of scheduling. And these days you have multiple options at your fingertips to make scheduling easier for you and for your employees.

Here are three methods to create easier, more integrated, and more effective schedules.

1. Scheduling software

Numerous companies specialize in software specifically designed to optimize scheduling for businesses.

The software allows you to schedule, communicate, and track time with your employees on one online platform.

You and your employees can access the schedule anytime from anywhere. Employees can more easily make requests, punch in and out, get reminders of their shifts, and request replacements.

Evaluate whether the money you’ll have to spend on the software will be worth the benefit for your pharmacy. Will the software streamline your scheduling enough to justify the expense? Will it make your employees productive and happy enough to make up for its cost?

2. Google Drive and One Drive

Google Drive and OneDrive allow you to create a shareable online spreadsheet.

You give your employees a login and they can access the schedule from any web browser. Changes you make to the schedule adjust in real time.

You can also tag different employees in your comments and send automatic notifications of changes.

Best of all, they don’t cost you anything

3. Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are one step above manually written schedules.

They’re not as helpful as online options because of these limitations:

  • You can’t make adjustments to the schedule without having to resend or repost the document
  • You have to manually send the document through email or post a printed sheet in the pharmacy
  • Employees can’t access it online
  • You can’t use it to communicate with employees

But with Excel spreadsheets, you can create an organized, clear, and efficient schedule that trumps anything written on paper.

Schedule templates created by managers and owners like you are available, so you won’t have to start from scratch.

Now you can get the most out of your employees and your business with an effective pharmacy schedule.


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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