Talking about job insecurity is a delicate, personal and often very emotional subject. As a result, very little has been written on the subject of job insecurity for pharmacists. Job insecurity has been defined, in part, as “a condition wherein employees lack the assurance that their jobs will remain stable from day to day, week to week, or year to year.”
Pharmacists who find themselves in a job with an uncertain future are often curious about what to do. What should I do if I fear my job might be eliminated? How should I prepare for company downsizing? This article is not a comprehensive treatment of this important subject, but merely attempts to share a few thoughts to help promote more discussion and writing on the issue.
There are many reasons why job insecurity might become an issue in a pharmacist’s career. The most obvious is the closing of a hospital or community pharmacy or clinic. Another common concern, particularly for those in upper leadership roles, is the reorganization of a district which might eliminate certain positions. Mergers and acquisitions also can result in the need for fewer pharmacists in a given area. Finally there is sometimes the insecurity that simply comes from fear of termination due to failure to be able to comply with certain performance metrics or quality concerns.
How should pharmacists handle a situation where their job feels less secure than they would like?
The first thing I recommend doing is talking about the situation openly with the next level of management. Rather than ignoring the issue, or pretending it doesn’t exist, schedule some time to talk to your boss about what appears to be going on. If you have consistently shown yourself to be a valuable asset to the organization, then you may get some honest feedback about what is going on.
Second, it is important to keep delivering the highest quality of service during times of job insecurity. Bring value to the job every day. In an article by Ralph Heibutzki on job security, he writes “The best way to attain job security is to ensure you remain an asset to your employer, either by widening your field of expertise or taking on projects that others shy away from.”
This is an important point for pharmacists to remember. We have to take personal responsibility for remaining prepared to fill different roles and, possibly, move in to different jobs. In a Forbes article earlier this year entitled The Secret to Job Security, Liz Ryan writes “The secret to job security in 2018 and beyond is to remember that we build our own security and carry it around with us. No employer can assure you lifetime employment anymore. No private company can. No public employer can.”
Third, I recommend pharmacists financially prepare for potential gaps in employment. It is not unusual for a job search to take 4-6 months or longer. Therefore, you should strive to save enough money to be able to cover these potential employment gaps. Being prepared is half the victory. Check with your own state to see how much you might expect to receive from unemployment during your job search, and then be sure to save enough to cover the difference. You can also check with your HR department about how unused vacation/sick time is paid out if a job is eliminated, as well as if the company has a severance package policy. Stay positive, but be prepared.
Fourth, it would be wise to use the time during this period of uncertainty to freshen up your resume and become more active on LinkedIn as well. You may want to read “Why and How I have 4,000 Pharmacy LinkedIn Contacts.”
Finally, I recommend pharmacists maintain contact with a quality pharmacy staffing and recruiting agency, such as Pharmaceutical Strategies. These companies are experts in connecting top employers with top pharmacy talent.
While job insecurity is a painful experience, it can also be a time for evaluating your career, thinking about your plans for the future and opening up your mind to new opportunities.