How to Create an Employee Handbook for Your Pharmacy
Inside: Learn what to include in a detailed employee handbook for increased workplace harmony and productivity.
When onboarding a new employee, there are lots of things big and small that you need to communicate about your pharmacy in order to set them up for success.
An employee handbook holds all of the answers to your employees’ questions about the job, and even some answers to questions they didn’t know they should be asking. And it’s not just a tool for new employees. An employee handbook will serve as a reference point for all your team members, no matter how long they’ve worked there.
A well-written employee handbook will set the tone for your pharmacy. It makes clear what expectations you have for your employees, like dress code, workplace conduct, and job performance. It also makes clear what your obligations are to them, like what they can expect for health insurance benefits, payment schedules, and paid time off.
When questions arise about procedures, pointing to an objective document like an employee handbook can smooth over potential problems and ensure fair treatment for everyone.
Learn how to easily put together an employee handbook with everything your employees need.
General Information About the Pharmacy
The beginning of your employee handbook is a great place to introduce team members to your company culture. This section should, in big-picture terms, tell employees what the pharmacy is all about.
This may not seem as important as including the nitty-gritty details about workplace procedures, but taking the time to tell the story of your pharmacy will make new employees feel like they are a part of something bigger. They’ll see how they fit into that larger story and take pride in their work from day one.
Items to expand on in this section include:
- Company History: Writing up the history of the pharmacy lets new employees know about your founding principles and lets them get to know you as the owner.
- Vision Statement: This states in plain terms why your pharmacy exists and touches on aspirations for the future. It’s usually no more than one or two sentences.
- Mission Statement: A mission statement addresses the concrete steps you will take to achieve your vision.
- Goals: List a few goals for the pharmacy overall (not objectives for individual positions). Knowing what they are working toward will give new employees a sense of camaraderie with the rest of the team.
Clearly laying out your workplace policies is important on two fronts. First, it sets new employees up for success. But more importantly, having these policies in writing means that you have a back-up in the unfortunate case that an employee is breaking the rules.
Depending on the severity of the rule-breaking, you can either point first-time offenders to specific policies to correct their behavior or cite policies if you have to let them go.
Start by including these policies:
- Dress Code: Clearly lay out your expectations for employees’ appearance. You should have similar standards for men and women, and you must allow for reasonable religious accommodations. If certain clothing items are expressly forbidden—like open-toed shoes or facial piercings—be sure to spell them out.
- Discrimination, Harassment, and Violence: Unfortunately, you must spell out your stance on these topics, even if you hope they would be common sense. State in no uncertain terms that discrimination, harassment, and violence will not be tolerated, and explain what employees should do if they witness these behaviors in the pharmacy.
- Health and Safety: Explain the safety measures in place in your pharmacy and what steps employees should take to reduce risks. In this section, you can also explain policies regarding substance abuse, drug testing, and where and employees are allowed to smoke cigarettes.
- Consequences: Now that employees know what the rules are, you also have to make sure they know what happens when they break the rules. Outline your disciplinary procedures in this section.
Beyond all of the rules, your pharmacy certainly has lots of norms and procedures that might be difficult for new employees to catch onto.
Use your employee handbook to spell out some of those norms, like if there’s a pecking order for taking breaks or that broccoli should never be warmed up in the microwave.
Make sure to address these issues:
- Hours and Breaks: Go beyond explaining how team members should clock in and clock out. Make sure to include information on when employees can take breaks and who they should contact when they are running late for their shift. This is also a good place to include the expectations around switching shifts and calling out sick.
- ADA Accommodations: Some of your employees might have different needs, and according to the ADA you have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations. Lay out how employees can make a request for these accommodations.
- Social Media Use: You probably want to make it explicit that employees shouldn’t use social media during working hours, but you can take it even further than that. Let your team members know if they make posts that violate your pharmacy’s ethics on their personal accounts, they could be held responsible at work.
- Resignation and Termination: When it’s time for an employee to move on, the handbook should tell them how much notice they should give. It should also explain how terminations will proceed.
Compensation and Benefits
Workplace culture and policies are important, but new employees are probably most curious about their compensation and benefits.
This section will cover base compensation along with any other extra perks you offer.
- Compensation: Explain the difference between exempt and non-exempt roles, and include your overtime policy for non-exempt workers. Say when timesheets are expected, when payday is, and how employees can expect to be paid (direct deposit, check, etc.).
- Paid Time Off, Sick Time, and Other Holidays: Explain how PTO and sick time is accrued and whether it transfers from year to year. Also list out the holidays the pharmacy observes.
- Health Insurance: Outline who is eligible for health insurance benefits, how to enroll, and where employees can find more information about the policy. If you have more than 20 employees, you should also include information about COBRA.
- Other Perks: If you offer a retirement plan, discounts to your local gym, or access to a company car, detail how to access those benefits and any conditions attached to them.
An Independently Owned Organization Serving Independent Pharmacies
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is an independently owned pharmacy services organization based in Kansas City, Mo., that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, distribution services, and more.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own VAWD-certified warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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