Attracting and retaining key people

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic staff availability, staff burn-out and staff recruitment have been key concerns for pharmacy owners, particularly those located in NSW and VIC, who have experienced the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the two years since the pandemic began. Fast forward to today and it seems that those same staffing issues have only become more prevalent and much wider spread as Australia opens up and starts to live with the virus.

What are the key issues driving workforce shortages within community pharmacies?

  • Higher than normal workloads particularly when the pharmacy is administering COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.
  • Increasing number of staff testing positive to COVID-19 requiring them to isolate, adding additional pressure on the remaining staff pool to meet the demands of the pharmacy; and
  • Lack of available pharmacists with many pharmacists choosing to walk away from community pharmacy as a result of being over worked and “burnt-out” or pharmacists taking on roles within other areas of the health sector offering better pay and conditions.

It is estimated that the majority of pharmacy owner have experienced one or more of the above issues in recent times.

In an environment where so much is out of our control and can seem overwhelming, owners need to focus on the things they can control.

Can Control

Can’t Control

Who you want to work for you

Pandemic situation

How you reward your staff

Market changes

The culture / work environment within the pharmacy


With remuneration demands hitting highs of $80 per hour, starting with a simple strategy focused on Attracting and Retaining the Right People for your pharmacy can help.

Then it’s time to remove the ego and stop being defensive. Reflect on what you know or what you’ve been told about your pharmacy. Why have staff have left? Why do staff stay? It is important that you understand this and look to continually evolve from this feedback.

Finally, take actions and constantly reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t.

Attracting and Retaining the Right People

To get you started here are three simple strategies you could implement to differentiate your pharmacy, from that of your competitors, so as the attract and retain the right people:

  1. Incentivise key staff members with a performance-based arrangement, in addition to base salary and wages, aimed at improving key pharmacy metrics. These types of arrangements work best when the performance targets are set as SMART KPIs (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound). Incentives can be as big or small as is feasible but, they need to be delivered regularly.
  2. Offer employees additional benefits on top of their normal wages such as professional development, study support, mentorship and ownership pathways (these do not need to always be financial in nature). Note that additional benefits offered to employees, that is not otherwise considered salary and wages, may give rise to a fringe benefit and so this should be factored in when determining the types of additional benefits offered and the value associated with these benefits.
  3. Target key recruits with one off sign-on bonuses that suit the operating style and culture within your pharmacy. Targeting potential employees directly will save you thousands of dollars in recruitment fees that can be otherwise used to secure the right people for your pharmacy.

Don’t leave the success of your pharmacy to chance, make today the day that you create a People Strategy for your pharmacy.

Are you ready to take action?

PKF can get you started. Get in touch with our specialist pharmacy team today.

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