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Reality Check: Tap Into The Power Of Belonging In Community Pharmacy

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Tarina Shah explains how community pharmacies can build a more motivated, cohesive, and efficient team 

In the evolving landscape of community pharmacy in the UK, the call to foster an inclusive and vibrant workplace has never been more imperative. A sense of belonging within the pharmacy workforce is not merely about feeling good; it is a fundamental human need. This need for connection and acceptance is hardwired into our brains, akin to our necessities for food and safety. Research has shown that the impact of workplace belonging can cause a 56 per cent increase in job performance, halving of the turnover risk, and slashing of employee sick days by 75 per cent.

For community pharmacies, this would translate into a compelling call to action particularly around employee engagement. Engaged employees are not just present but are passionate and committed, directly contributing to the pharmacy’s mission and the well-being of the community it serves. This can lead to improved patient services, innovation in care delivery, and a more resilient and joyful pharmacy team.

Elevating Belonging Using the FOUR ‘C’s Framework

1) CONNECTION – Fostering a sense of unity and understanding among team members.

Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion: Actively promote and celebrate the diverse backgrounds, skills and perspectives of each team member. This can involve cultural awareness initiatives, diversity training programmes and inclusive policymaking. Recognising and valuing diversity strengthens team cohesion and enriches the pharmacy’s service delivery.

Create a ‘Wall of Fame’: Dedicate a space within the pharmacy where employees can display personal accomplishments or fun facts about themselves, encouraging conversations and connections on a personal level.

Cultivate Positive Relationships: Positive psychology emphasises the importance of nurturing healthy relationships in the workplace. Facilitate social interactions among team members through social events or informal gatherings, enhancing the sense of community and belonging.

2) COLLABORATION – Working together harmoniously towards shared goals, leveraging each other’s strengths for collective success.

Forge Team Cohesion: Team cohesion within community pharmacies is not just about working well together; it is about creating a shared sense of purpose and commitment. When every team member feels valued and recognised for their unique contributions, a deep sense of belonging can be fostered.

Implement Team-Building Activities: Regular team-building exercises can significantly enhance team cohesion. These activities not only improve interpersonal relationships but also help to break the ice, reduce conflicts and foster a sense of camaraderie and mutual support. Create friendly competitions or challenges that encourage teams to work together to solve problems or achieve goals, such as improving customer service scores or creating health awareness campaigns.

Focus on Strengths: Use a strengths-based approach by identifying and leveraging the strengths of each team member. This boosts individual confidence and enhances team performance and cohesion.

3) COMMUNICATIONEnsuring open, transparent, and effective dialogue within the team, allowing for the free exchange of ideas, feedback, and concerns.

Open Door Policy: Encourage leaders and managers to adopt an open-door policy, signalling their availability and willingness to listen to any ideas or concerns from team members.

Regular Feedback Sessions: Schedule frequent one-on-one meetings between employees and managers to discuss progress, address concerns, and provide constructive feedback.

Communication Workshops: Host workshops or training sessions focused on improving communication skills, including active listening to enhance overall team dynamics.

4) CREATION – PURPOSE, VALUE AND VISION – Empowering employees to find meaning in their work and understand how their contributions impact the larger mission of the pharmacy and the community it serves.

Recognise and Reward Contributions: Acknowledge and celebrate individual and team achievements. Recognition can be as simple as verbal praise during team meetings or as formal as award programmes. This acknowledgment boosts morale, motivates employees, and reinforces their sense of belonging and value to the team.

Enable Meaningful Work: Support employees find purpose in their work. Engage them in discussions about how their roles contribute to the greater good of the community and the impact of their work on patient health and well-being. Invite customers or community members to share their experiences and how the pharmacy has helped them, providing employees with a direct link to the impact of their work.

Promote Autonomy and Mastery: Give employees opportunities to exercise autonomy in their tasks and support their pursuit of mastery and competence. This can involve allowing them to lead projects or initiatives and providing constructive feedback to help them grow.

By embracing the research-backed benefits of workplace belonging and actively working to mitigate feelings of exclusion, community pharmacies can create a more motivated, cohesive, and efficient team. Ultimately, the cultivation of belonging within the workforce is not just about improving individual well-being; it’s about building a community where every member, both staff and patients alike, feels valued, supported, and connected. It’s about building a resilient, productive and joy-fuelled workforce capable of meeting the demands of modern healthcare with empathy, innovation, and excellence.

Tarina Shah is the co-founder of Joynetix and head of social impact at Sinequanon.  

 

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Current Issue March 2024

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