11 Tips to Avoid Job Burnout


Ideas to manage the stress of pharmacy ownership 

Owning and managing a pharmacy can be incredibly hard. Demanding customers, staff issues, increasing regulations, and daily operational and financial challenges are just a few of the steady stream of issues that you face.

These constant challenges can cause stress, which if not properly managed, can lead to burnout. Stress and feelings of burnout can build up slowly. Watch for warning signs like:

  • A diminished sense of accomplishment. You don’t feel like you’re making any worthwhile progress at work.
  • Detachment or depersonalization. You stop relating to people and may drop out of social circles.
  • Change in sleep and other health patterns. You gain or lose weight and never feel rested.

Business owners are more prone to burnout, said business coach Susan Martin, owner of Business Sanity, and often people headed toward burnout don’t even realize it. Martin ran her own successful companies for 25 years before becoming a business consultant and strategist. Smart Retailing RX interviewed her for advice that pharmacy owners can use to avoid burnout.

Analyze the Sources of Stress

To decide what to do, you first have to recognize what causes your stress, Martin said. She sometimes recommends keeping a stress journal, jotting short notes throughout the day about what happened and how you felt. Said Martin, “Everything starts to be equally stressful [when people are burning out].”

A stress journal can help you sort out the sources of stress that may be dragging you down. Some stressors can be minor annoyances that you can remove easily. Other situations may not be within your control. Recording your stress triggers allows you to examine them and plan your next moves.

As burnout often causes one to lose interest and feel somewhat numb about things that were once important to them, Martin also encourages business executives to recall what life was like before they started to feel burnout and to envision the life they want in the future. “That can be very motivating.”

11 Things You Can Do

If your current path is potentially leading to burnout, change direction with these actions:

  1. Prioritize and let go. Being in control of your business is different from micromanaging and becoming overinvolved in the details, Martin said. You can’t do everything, and you shouldn’t try.
  2. Hire and train well. To have the breaks you need from the business, you must have confidence that your pharmacy is in good hands. “The very first step is to find employees you can trust and who can hold down the fort in your absence,” Martin said. Then train them how you want them to operate the business. “Are they going to make mistakes? Of course they will,” said Martin, but if you have trained them well, those won’t be big mistakes. (To improve your hiring and training read Avoid Costly Hiring Mistakes and Tips for Building a Winning Team.)
  3. Take breaks. Leave the pharmacy for a short time each day to recharge and refresh. Go out to lunch or take a walk. You will be more effective than if you try to plow through the work without a break. And when you take a vacation, don’t constantly check in with the pharmacy. “That can be more stressful than being at work,” cautioned Martin. (Click here for tips on reducing the stress that can come from taking a vacation, click here).
  4. Don’t isolate yourself. Find a good listener, whether that is another pharmacist, another business owner in town or a business coach. Have someone you can bounce ideas off of, complain to, or turn to for advice, guidance or support. Isolation and time management are two of the biggest issues Martin sees business executives face.
  5. Live your core values. Reconnect with what is important to you. If you became a pharmacist because you want to serve people, arrange your workload so that you regularly have time to interact with customers and see the impact you have on their lives. “Live what you preach,” Martin advises.
  6. Resolve conflicts. Don’t ignore issues or allow them to fester. If staff members aren’t performing up to your standards or aren’t working well together, face those issues head on and deal with them.
  7. Set realistic expectations. Be honest about what you can accomplish yourself and what your pharmacy can do. Don’t promise to fill prescriptions in an overly ambitious time and then rush to complete orders. Instead, give customers a time estimate you know you can meet — or beat.
  8. Put policies in place. Policies allow you to set boundaries and say “no” when necessary, to both customers and employees. Define what your limits are, even if you decide to occasionally bend the rules. “You don’t want to allow others to push you into doing things that will cause other problems,” Martin said.
  9. Revamp how you do things. Examining your practices and procedures is a good way to pull yourself and your business out of a rut. Ask staff members if they see a more efficient way to work. Consider bringing in a pharmacy student to intern for semester — they can see your pharmacy with fresh eyes to help infuse new ideas and new energy.
  10. Recognize what you can’t control. “Don’t get stuck being angry with a situation you can’t control,” Martin said. If you can’t do anything to alter a situation, change your response to it.
  11. Have fun. “Do whatever it is that makes you smile,” Martin advises. Spend time with friends, family and in nurturing environments. “You also need time to just chill out and do nothing, sometimes.”

The next time you find yourself avoiding customer interactions or wanting to clean the office fridge instead of filling another prescription, try some of these tips. You will to reduce your stress, feel invigorated, and sustain the passion that attracted you to owning a pharmacy in the first place.

Tell us in the Comments section below how you beat stress and avoid burnout.

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