Developing training excellence

Laura Reed, head of professional development at Numark, sets out some ideas for improving staff development and skill mix

A recent NPA survey revealed that 86 per cent of pharmacists are likely to cut staffing levels in the coming months. A further 76 per cent could be forced to reduce services due to cash flow challenges.

Funding cuts will mean significant changes for pharmacists and support staff. The immediate reaction may be to reduce the number of employees or cut back on training resource to save money, but it may have the opposite effect in the long term.

Addressing the funding cuts will be no mean feat, but that’s not to say that the go-to plan should be to slash staff numbers and adopt radical new strategies. This is in fact counterproductive for a successful, sustainable business plan.

The long-term benefits of upskilling pharmacy employees are immense. Having skilled support staff on hand is invaluable when it comes to providing added value to customers and gaining an edge in a highly competitive market.

Equally, running a successful business requires strategic planning, and pharmacists need the head space to plan properly. Having support from staff in managing the day-to-day business, running retail offers and setting up services like MURs will help free up pharmacists’ time to do this successfully.

Training tips

Tips around motivation, targeting training topics, and scheduling training include:

  • Provide equal opportunities – having a clearly defined training plan and time frame in place will ensure all employees have the chance to improve knowledge and skills.
  • Equip staff with well-rounded skills – don’t restrict staff to one area of the business. When done right, upskilling employees and diversifying their skill set can lead to a pharmacy delivering more services. 

Equally, having support to manage the day-to-day business, running retail offers, and setting up bespoke services like MURs, will free up pharmacists’ time to focus on other areas.

  • Encourage knowledge exchange – this means not only tapping into your team’s knowledge and experience, but also sharing yours with them. For example, support staff may have stronger relationships with customers, and can therefore pass on insights to the pharmacist or proprietor. On the other hand, more senior members of staff will have in-depth knowledge of the needs of the business itself, so can share ideas with counter staff to help boost sales.
  • Lead by example – it’s easy to put all the mechanisms in place to motivate staff, but they won’t be effective if you fail to maintain a positive attitude in difficult times.

The long-term benefits of upskilling pharmacy employees are immense

There is a wealth of information and resources available from Numark to help members in setting up and expanding into new services. Members can receive support and guidance on training, marketing and choosing the appropriate equipment and resource.

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