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Struggling to keep entry-level staff engaged? Try a performance-based career ladder.

February 23, 2017

    Recruiting highly skilled entry-level staff is tough as it is, but retaining those employees often proves just as tricky. Utilizing an early-tenure career ladder can help you engage your entry-level employees to keep them advancing toward the top of their role.

    My colleagues in Advisory Board's HR Advancement Center have identified three main steps that your organization needs to keep in mind when creating career ladders.

    1. Identify entry-level roles suitable for career ladders

    For maximum benefit, target roles with high voluntary turnover, specialized skill sets, and a perceived lack of development opportunities. Within pharmacy, this may apply to a pharmacy technician or a dispensing pharmacist. Skilled employees in these roles are attractive to competitors and might be more likely to leave the organization if they are unengaged.

    2. Include performance-based criteria in ladder rungs

    Create performance-based goals for employees to move up the ladder rungs, rather than progressing solely based on staff tenure. For a pharmacy technician, this might include certification, independence when compounding, or their consistent reliability in medication dispensing. Whatever the criteria are, it is important for leaders to reward employees for their accomplishments, not just their time in any given role.

    3. Allow staff to nominate themselves to advance to the next level

    Encourage your employees to reach out to their manager once they feel they have accomplished their performance-based goals to express interest in level advancement. When their manager and human resources (HR) agree, the employee then moves to the next level and receives a new title and increased compensation.

    In the pharmacy setting, this may mean a Level 1 pharmacy technician moves up to a Level 2 technician with expanded responsibilities, role scope, and pay rate. This structure works only with clear and objective criteria for advancement so the employee knows when they are prepared and able to move to the next level.

    The importance of all three steps

    No matter the role, the career ladder needs to include all three of these parts in order to successfully engage staff and advance them appropriately. This structure allows entry-level employees to take the initiative and strengthen their skills to progress toward the next ladder rung.

    Although this structure does require organizational investment as compensation increases from one level to the next, organizations that use it find that the long-term benefits of retaining highly-skilled, engaged employees pay off.

    Keep an eye out for more pharmacy workforce-related resources coming soon through the Pharmacy Executive Forum.

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