Job satisfaction & Employee Turnover in Retail Pharmacy


By Oluwole A Williams, Bpharm (lfe), PharmD (Howard)(practising in Glenside, Pennsylvania, USA)

Employers of labour in Pharmacy as in other industries normally seek to recruit candidates who are not only professionally qualified or licensed, they want persons with a flair for the type of business their organisation is engaged in. Corporations therefore expend precious resources and care in the recruitment process to arrive at a selection of candidates unto whom their businesses are entrusted for performances locally or internationally.

If an employee turns down an offer of employment or resigns an appointment after only a few weeks or months on the job, it turns out a painful derangement and disruption of business services for the company; in many cases, because some valuable training typically would have been invested on the individual in question.

Many corporations plan to retain their employees for as long as it is economically and financially feasible for their businesses and they equally have good retirement plans and healthcare benefits for their workers. Some also offer sponsorships for postgraduate trainings locally or overseas, including college grants for staff members’ families. The question thus becomes bothersome when there are instances of “Resignation of Appointment” or abrupt “quits” from the job as frequently seen in some aspects of community pharmacy employment.

There was a recent story of a new grad in Pennsylvania who was offered employment by a specialty pharmacy after a protracted screening and interview process and was given an offer of employment. The candidate went through the new-hire trainings too but did not resume for employment on the expected date due to a better “offer” given elsewhere.

There was another new grad, again in Pennsylvania, who accepted the offer of pharmacy manager position in a chain store and after working for only five months resigned and took up appointment elsewhere in a different sector of pharmacy practice and in another corporation!

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The questions of concern therefore are – Why do people resign after only a short time on the job? What could the employer have done to persuade the employee to remain? What could be done to the Daily Schedule to make the job more satisfying? What attractions or interests could employers incorporate into the job descriptions to reduce dissatisfaction? How may the employer assign support staff in the daily schedule to assuage frustrations on the job? How may the corporation present opportunities for career growth to new recruits to encourage them stay working for future growth?

Acceptance of an offer of employment in Pharmacy and duration/tenure of office may be influenced by a number of factors particularly in times of ample occupational opportunities. Here in North America, for instance, few fresh grads in Pharmacy would accept offers of employment in places like: Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or The Virgin Islands, not only because these places are not contiguous with The United States mainland but because of other socio-economic and cultural factors.

Moreover some young graduates may have decided to pursue secondary academic qualifications immediately upon graduation and the thought of employment relocation to a far place may be unattractive notwithstanding the fantastic salaries offered them.

Some factors listed below may constitute strong disincentives for someone entering the retail pharmacy job market for example:

  1. Distance to the new job location and or availability of affordable accommodation in the area.
  2. Licensing, training requirements, and job description at start-up, including the administration of injections or physical examination of patients in states where pharmacists offer provider services.
  3. Social infrastructures, physical development and cultural activities at the prospective location of employment.
  4. Professional career prospects for growth and development within the organisation offering employment relative to the personal aspiration of the individual.
  5. Employment benefits offered during the interview process and how clearly explainable or understandable these peps were to the prospective employee.
  6. Marital status of person who is being offered employment, and family size for those already married.
  7. Public image or regional comments in the media amongst the people about the organisation offering employment and the impressions of prospective recruits of the local community.
  8. Geological and environmental facts or climate in the state or region of employment. Compare, for instance, the weather in Arizona, California to those of Oklahoma, Florida, and Missouri. While Alaska, Oklahoma and the State of Washington are prone to earthquakes and could attract a young adventurer graduate, the same may not hold for a middle age pharmacist with a family of four seeking relocation.
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Pharmacists, by their rigorous training and diverse exposure, are ably suited to work and function in many spheres of healthcare services, including hospitals, retail pharmacy, mail-order, MTM services and in the academia or teaching hospitals, and upon graduation could take up employment anywhere after completion of licensing requirements in the state where they wish to live and work. Some pharmacists go so far as to acquire three or more state licenses in a bid to be free and eligible for professional service opportunities in Tri-State Areas, offering their skills for the benefit of the people.

However, we still find a preponderance of high employee turnover and short tenure of employment amongst pharmacists particularly those in retail chain stores, stemming from job-dissatisfaction unrelated to remuneration and which may account for the high turnover of pharmacists.

Perhaps a survey may reveal interesting reviews. For instance, respondents may be asked “What is your primary motivation on a job”? Is it the pay, or is it schedule of work? Is it the benefits + annual vacation? Or, in rare cases, is it for unavailability of alternative employment and would you leave as soon as you find another offer elsewhere? Or, could it be the cul-de-sac effect? For example a pharmacy manager in one retail chain really has few, if any, prospects for career advancement beyond that single store location. Unlike hospital pharmacists who may fare better if there is a school of pharmacy on-site attached to the hospital because the career staff may serve in academic roles, teaching undergraduate students thus developing a diversity in professional service life.

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Retail pharmacists typically have fewer options for an exciting professional life though things appear to be changing with the introduction of Clinical Provider Services in some states thus far.



One of the ways to enhance employee productivity and job satisfaction in retail pharmacies could be by a periodic and deliberate annual appreciation system. Motivate your employees by pointing out the good things they are doing in taking care of the health of their community. Complement them by assuring them they are contributing to global reduction of disease spread.

Post the statistics in large letters where they have done well. Let them know the company appreciates their good work and extend to them or acquaint them with available company benefits for those desiring to earn additional qualifications particularly for postgraduate studies.

Educate employees about the corporate goals of the organisation and let them know how they may advance professionally within the company. Teach employees or advise them on how to plan for their future through acquisition of alternative economic skills or marketable skills, including occupational diversification for future career goals.

Vulnerability to unemployment engendered by national or regional economic downturn demands that employees understand why the company could not effect wage raises nor offer bonuses and it explains why they need be appreciative of the current employment they hold.


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