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We’ve heard about, and perhaps experienced, the Great Resignation. Seems nearly every business continues to look for qualified staff to help keep the operation up and running. Many organizations have tried to define the phenomenon and describe remedies that will end the exodus and attract high-quality candidates to fill vacant positions.

Nowhere is this more critical than in healthcare and no place in healthcare is this truer than in long-term care. COVID-19 drove many of our colleagues out of nursing homes through infection with the virus while those who remained ended up drained by endless hours and days of caring for residents who were also ill from the virus. Replacements for those who left are slow to arrive.

Employee Benefits to Attract and Retain

Employee surveys and real-life experience show employers who offer a robust package of employee benefits tend to have lower turnover and higher job satisfaction. Even before the pandemic, the rate of turnover was high enough to have a significant impact on company performance.

Some employee benefits are expected as a matter of course. We expect that when we take a job at most LTC pharmacies or nursing homes we will have basic benefits, including health insurance and a retirement plan as well as paid time off. That’s pretty basic, and many of our competitors for the available talent are offering additional benefits, including tuition assistance, flexible work schedules, and work-from-home options.

Have You Thought About Creating an Employee Benefit?

As an LTC pharmacy manager, you are familiar with the process of creating an employee benefits menu that is both affordable and attractive to your employees. Have you considered whether you might be able to create your own employee benefit that could be useful to other companies? Probably not, but maybe you should.

In addition to the usual assortment of employee benefits is a relatively new class of benefits generally referred to as elder care. The reason for this? More than 16 percent of workers report having a collateral duty to care for an elderly person, usually a relative. Caregivers miss, on average, nearly seven days of work per year due to their caregiving responsibilities.

Elder care benefits, once relatively rare, are increasingly popular, with more than 90 percent of large companies offering at least a basic benefit. This normally consists of an Employee Assistance Program that helps employees find elder care support and may offer recommendations on community resources for caregivers.

The pandemic revealed a deeper need for companies to help employees with Dependent Care Assistance Plans, respite, and back-up caregiver programs. The best thing about these benefits is they provide relief for both the employee and the employer by providing peace of mind that the loved one is being cared for while the employee is on the job.

What Would Your Benefit Look Like?

Years ago, I was meeting with a public relations firm our trade group had retained to help us publicize the industry’s unique position in healthcare. During the discussion, I mentioned how our consultant pharmacists provided each resident a medication regimen review and communicated recommendations to the attending physician. The consultant we were working with suddenly dropped his dry erase marker and, with eyes wide open, said, “You mean the pharmacist reviews their medications and spots potential problems?” We nodded in assent, and he told us that his parents weren’t in nursing homes but every time he visited their house and looked at the medicine cabinet he began to worry. After a bit more discussion he turned to us and said, “I would pay money to have someone do this for my parents.”

So, perhaps replicating the drug regimen review would be a good offering. There are other options, either alone or with other providers, perhaps even some of your customers. A bit of brainstorming comes in handy here as well as some market research. Consider which employers might have work forces that include caregivers. Would they be interested in this as a benefit? Would your employees find this useful?

Worth a Try?

I’m not aware of any LTC pharmacies doing this right now, but maybe you can be a trailblazer here and give it a try. Regardless of whether you do or not, we all need to think past the nursing home. COVID-19 taught us that!

X Factors to Success in Employee Benefits

  • Inventory your pharmacy’s strengths to see what employee-focused services you may want to offer.
  • Talk with your employees, customers, vendors, and benefits brokers to determine whether the market is ready for this.
  • Start small, evaluate, and build on your success or adjust for your shortcomings.

What service could your pharmacy offer as a possible employee benefit?

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Written by: Paul Baldwin, Baldwin Health Policy Group
Paul’s pharmaceutical industry experience in public and government affairs led to becoming Executive Director of the Long Term Care Pharmacy Alliance, helping lead the industry through the Medicare Modernization Act and creation of the prescription drug benefit. Paul was VP of Public Affairs for Omnicare before founding Baldwin Health Policy Group.

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