Driving culture change in pharmacy

Our Chief Executive, Danielle Hunt, shares her reflections and advice on transforming workplace culture.

Long-standing issues 

 It’s not hard to understand why wellbeing and mental health is high on the agenda within the pharmacy profession: 

  • 89% of pharmacists are at risk of burnout, with excessive workload and pressure, inflexible working hours and a lack of opportunities for career progression highlighted as some of the reasons 
  • 68% of pharmacists’ mental health and wellbeing has been negatively impacted by work 
  • 33% of pharmacists have considered leaving the profession (all figures from our 2021 joint Workforce Wellbeing Survey).  

Earlier this year, we spoke about the need for a culture change within our sector so that our committed and dedicated pharmacy workforce feels comfortable with and happy to stay in their roles.

Whilst many individuals have been focused on what they can do to reduce stress and improve their wellbeing, to truly address the issues the profession face, attention needs to turn to the culture that exists within our workplaces.  

The benefits of a positive workplace culture 

Having a positive workplace culture benefits everyone. Trainees and new recruits feel fulfilled with their development and are more likely to flourish. Pharmacy teams feel motivated and supported and are more likely to deliver good results. Pharmacy managers feel empowered to trust their teams and therefore focus on other areas such as problem solving and innovation. And finally, employers feel happy with the output of their teams and are more likely to celebrate that success, resulting in an even deeper positive workplace culture. In a nutshell, having good working conditions and a positive workplace culture make good business sense.  

People working in organisations with good workplace culture feel their employer cares. They feel valued and they are proud of their jobs. This leads to positive staff wellbeing and lower stress levels, with an increased chance that the team will have the capacity to respond to unforeseen challenges and the resilience to bounce back from difficult events.    

Poor workplace culture, needless to say, has a significant negative impact on the wellbeing of an individual. In situations where individuals are scared of making mistakes, don’t feel listened to or respected and there is a culture of blame, you’ll often see high levels of stress and staff turnover. 

Previous research on Organisational Culture in Community Pharmacy looked into culture vs workload. It found that community pharmacists may associate their work settings and work pressures with organisational culture rather than how heavy their workload is.   

Where to start with transforming culture? 

Workplace culture affects every area within an organisation and every part of our individual roles. A good workplace culture will have inclusive company and employee policies which recognise beliefs, values and traditions. Senior management will role model these policies alongside the organisation’s own clear, set values. Additionally, a positive workplace culture will balance company goals with employee wellbeing.  

Organisations with a good workplace culture will have open communication that allows everyone to feel heard, valued and respected. They encourage employees to be accountable for their job and allow individuals to feel confident enough to take credit for their work and own their mistakes.  

These environments should encourage people to speak out, open up about their anxieties and reach out for support, something we know that many in the pharmacy profession do not feel comfortable doing.   

How we can support you with transforming your workplace culture

It’s clear that workplaces impact wellbeing, but many feel that changing a culture is daunting. However, it’s vital if we want the best overall performance, satisfaction and wellbeing of individuals in an organisation. The first steps to positive change are to recognise what the issues are and to commit to addressing them. Through our 2022 Pharmacist ACTNow wellbeing campaign, we want to support organisations to start making changes, and over the four-week campaign, are sharing resources to help take the first steps towards transforming the workplace culture. Additionally, you can find lots of support and guidance on our website, such as:

Importantly, buy-in is needed across the organisation. Leaders and managers play an important role in this. They are key to fostering a strong mission, communicating a clear vision and setting the tone for the organisational culture you want. If you or your management team would like support with leading positive change, you may be interested in our upcoming Training for Managers, launching early next year. Please ensure you sign up to our bi-monthly newsletters to be the first in line to sign up.  

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The 2022 Pharmacist ACTNow campaign is sponsored through corporate partnership with Teva UK who has recognised the need to support and champion the wellbeing of our pharmacy family. It is also made possible through ongoing support from The PDA and its members. Funding from each of our valued partners is being used to develop and implement the campaign and develop our existing support services.