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Pivot with your workforce and get the balance right

In my pharmacy recruitment practice, one in two interviewees is now asking for “a better work-life balance”. What they’re essentially looking for is the opportunity to manage their paid work, alongside other important aspects of their personal or family life.

It seems that this is now an established national employment trend.

According to a recent survey by Diversity Works NZ:

“69% of professionals in NZ, state that work-life balance, including flexible working, is their top priority when seeking a new role.”

Many Kiwis are increasingly turning their back on the traditional working week and looking for better options, or choosing to leave the profession, which is not the answer. As an industry, we need to acknowledge that the traditional working week isn’t working for everyone. We need to be open to creating a multi-talented team of individuals, working a variety of hours and days across the week.

The days of employing staff, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm, are over. It’s history.

If we want to combat the current staff shortages, it’s time to listen and take a more tailored approach to each individual’s needs. Pharmacy owners need to listen to their employees and be willing to support them in meeting their own personal needs, as well as those of the employers. By pivoting in this way, you can prevent your good staff from leaving. You’ll retain the knowledge and experience of that individual in your business and save the headache of having to recruit new staff, who will likely demand the same concessions anyway.

How to recognise employees with work-life balance problems

Take a close look at your team this week. Employees struggling to achieve a work-life balance may show some of these tell-tale signs:

 Lack of focus

 Low productivity

 High rates of absenteeism

 Frequent family ‘emergencies’

 Requests for overtime

If any of your employees are showing these signs, please sit down with them for a chat and ask what you can do to help them.

Steps you can take to improve work-life balance

The first thing you need to know is that there is no 'one size fits all ' solution. To some it may mean less work and for others more paid hours. It may be something other than work hours that are important. Here are some options for you to consider:

1. Flexible working practices

Consider the operational requirements of your business then look at which flexible working practices could be accommodated.

For example

 Part time work

 Varied hours and workdays

 Flexi-time

 Job sharing

 Work management

Remember employees have the legal right to request flexible working and you have a duty to consider their requests.

2. Flexible working arrangements

Consider introducing new flexible working policies which will allow staff:

 Unpaid career breaks

 Extra work days off

 Holiday purchase scheme

 Extended parental or bereavement leave

3. Improving the working environment

If you want to retain valued staff and see them happier at work, consider improving the list of benefits you provide such as:

 Gym membership

 Childcare vouchers

 An attractive restroom

 A decent espresso machine

 Free fruit bowl

 Free Wi-Fi access in the tea room

 Paid time off for training or other job-related activities.

Introducing employment policies to promote a healthier work-life balance for your employees, can bring significant advantages to both your team and your pharmacy.

Becoming an ‘employer of choice’ and reaping the benefits

When people are happy in their work it definitely comes across in the way they interact with customers and team members. You will quickly see improved employee engagement, more positive attitudes, and job satisfaction. If you’re flexible with employees and on occasion require shift or hour changes, your staff may be more willing to do the same for you. Wouldn’t that be great? Increased employee motivation and loyalty will lead to less staff turnover and absenteeism, which in turn will minimise your recruitment costs and the stress of running your business. Your reputation as a flexible employer will soon make you an employer of choice, with the ability to attract the most talented job candidates.

Employees benefit from feeling more in control of their life

The biggest benefit to employees is that they will feel more in control of their working life. They will have the time they need to manage their personal and family commitments or to pursue other interests alongside the ability to earn an income. They will appreciate being part of a supportive workplace that trusts and values them and will feel greater loyalty towards the employer who has helped to make this happen. They are more likely to remain with the business and if their circumstances change, to discuss this with you first instead of just leaving.

It’s a win, win situation

The current demand for work-life balance is not going to go away, so ignore it at your peril.

Pharmacy businesses who introduce new employment practices to support their employees' responsibilities outside of work will be promoting a healthier work-life balance to benefit all parties. You can start right now, by making a commitment to review flexible working policies. Please take the time to consult all of your employees on what they want from a flexible working policy and ensure you take legal advice to ensure you don’t breach employees’ rights.

If your Pharmacy has already introduced flexible work practices we’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section below.

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