Why clinicians should think more like retailers

Do you spend your evenings and weekends chasing timesheets, processing payroll and planning rosters? It’s frustrating, stressful and a big waste of time, especially if you’re doing it all on paper. Michael Hazilias, CEO of easyEMPLOYER urges pharmacists to look at admin from a business perspective.Even if you have in-house pen pushers and a bookkeeper for a best buddy, I can guarantee you’re still spending too much of your own time on workforce admin. Many pharmacy owners have spent so long processing tedious and time-consuming paperwork in the evenings or on the weekends, they don’t really notice it any more. They’ve accepted it as the business owner’s burden. It’s not.

I’ve been working with pharmacy clients for over 10 years now but through easyEMPLOYER I have gained a lot of experience in other industry sectors as well. Obviously every industry brings its own pace of change, problems and challenges, but I have to say, I’ve never seen an industry with a bigger, brighter opportunity than pharmacy right now in terms of workforce automation. To deliver a truly patient-centric business model you need to optimise workforce resources. You’re a clinician. But just for a moment… think like someone else.

Think like a retailer

Show me a profitable retailer and I will show you a master of efficient staff management. Retailers live and breathe footfall, customer counts, staffing levels, shift schedules, staff availability, rostering, time sheets, payroll processing – for one reason. They know that without sufficient employee levels during the day, their store has zero ability to serve its customers and convert sales. To a retailer, every staffing fail is potentially a customer lost. Customers that have to wait too long will just go elsewhere. Customers that can’t get private time with the pharmacist will just go elsewhere. But on the flip side businesses with too much staff or that inefficiently use their workforce will suffer from high labour costs and this is just as detrimental… it’s all about getting the balance right and you can’t do that with your head in the rosters. You need business metrics at your fingertips and a system that allows you to use these metrics for smart staff management.

Think like a financial controller

You have the highest hourly rate in your business. An hour of your time is worth more than an hour of anyone else’s time. If you can shift some of the admin workload from your shoulders down to the store managers – to every employee in fact – then your business will suffer. We have a client with eight pharmacies and 120 staff. They have a manager at head office whose role is officially a business development one, but in reality she used to spend 40 hours a week just managing staff plus six or seven hours on a Sunday evening doing the week’s rosters. We implemented a workforce admin software solution including payroll and she got her admin time down to around five hours a week. Intelligent automated rostering and accurate time/attendance clocking allows you to see inefficiencies and minimise your costs. You get a fully reflective picture of your labor costs, valuable real time information at your fingertips and an ability to administer remedial actions on the fly.

Think like a compliance officer

If you find Australia’s pharmacy awards and Fairwork policies hugely tricky, you’re not alone. A lot of pharmacy owners pay consultants or buy the Plain English Guide to the Pharmacy Industry Award because it’s so hard to understand what it means and how to interpret it for your business. We still frequently see underpayments and overpayments occurring, one of our pharmacy clients was paying penalty rates on top of loaded casual rates before we pointed out that this was an overpayment. That error was costing them thousands of dollars a year. Good workforce solutions have tools and automatic triggers that can manage compliance tasks for you. Look out for a provider that understands award interpretation, a solution flexible enough to meet your exact needs and someone who provides the option to have your awards managed for you. Talking about “managed” services, what about payroll? The potential for error here is also massive when manual processes are involved. Why mess around with payroll at all when you can get your payroll done for you. Managed payroll – it’s not a luxury these days, it’s a necessity. Look for a provider who can take care of it all for you.

Think like a HR manager

Did you realise that automation and self-administration creates transparency, empowers staff, boosts loyalty and generates job satisfaction? If there’s room for errors and delay in your staff admin processes, you’ll get mistrust, disputes, frustration and stress. With automation, staff can submit online timesheets, request leave, accept or request additional shifts, all via SMS or email. In my experience, staff begin to feel like they are being treated like adults and the knock-on effects are positive. With easyEMPLOYER for example, pharmacy staff can go into the system, put in a shift swap request and have a look at who else is suitable and available to work that shift. Only people who match the role and the task and who are available will show up as options for the swap. All the manager needs to do is give it the final approval. If a staff member can’t work a given shift, you can make it his or her responsibility to find someone else to cover it, so you don’t have to. It’s about delegating responsibility down but in a way that minimises risk.

In a nutshell, if you’re not using technology in your business to manage your staff, it is going to be very difficult to manage your workforce in an efficient and compliant manner. My suggestion to those that ask “where do I start” is to review your employee admin processes. Define and describe the tasks you do every day, every week and every month to manage and administrate your workforce. Then look at how you can streamline those processes. Can you simplify them? Can you cut any steps out? If your processes are inefficient or unnecessary in the first place, all the automation in the world isn’t going to help you. We cover all of this and more in a comprehensive Workforce Management Health Check before we even begin talking about products and solutions for our clients.

Once you’ve documented your processes, streamlined tasks etc you can look at automating one or more processes: perhaps the worst offending, least efficient, most time-consuming, error-prone, admin-heavy ones might be done first. You could start with online rosters or perhaps you could begin to collect timesheets online. The beauty of cloud-based software means you can access a lot of simple solutions just with the Internet and set out on the path towards automation one step at a time.

You don’t have to automate every process from start to finish right away, however, automating in bulk is the best way to go about it. It doesn’t have to be a daunting process to do so, products like easyEMPLOYER can automate one area at a time but they are also capable of assisting you to automate all areas of staff admin… a one stop shop for workforce management automation if you like. Whichever way you decide to go, jump in, have a play with some of the products that are out there, make the leap. Remember: every minute you save yourself from admin is another minute you can spend taking care of your patients, growing your business or doing the things you’d rather be doing… whatever that is!

If any of these problems sound familiar to you, why not try our free Workforce Management Health Check? You can sign up here. The Health Check is usually valued at $1495, however for a limited time our blog readers will receive it free of charge.