The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Human labor conundrum

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:59 pm on Sunday, April 28, 2013

I think humans are the master of their own demise.  Pharmacy Chick is an angry pharmacist..but “Angry Pharmacist” is taken so  PC I will stay.  Some months back my company announced yet another round of labor cuts….right after they sent out glowing notices of how awesome we were doing….meeting all my sales goals…having a 4% gain for the year when most businesses were tanking.  I decided to answer back in a very small way.  I quit shopping at the company that I work for.  Yea, I suppose for some people that is sacrilegious but for me, as a CONSUMER, if I dont like a company I dont shop there.  It just happens that I work there.

This nation has a ton of unemployed and under-employed people.  People are screaming for job creators.  But I can tell you this.  Industry does not want to create jobs.  Jobs are for humans…humans are labor…and labor is their #1 controllable expense.  They want to LIMIT jobs to create more profit.  Say you work for United Twaddlers and Widgets.   If you are the company president with a bunch of shareholders to please with dividends, you want to make as many Twaddlers and Widgets as you can as cheaply as possible. If that means automation, and less humans, they will jump on it like frog off a rock.

We have seen this all over.  People dont make cars..robots do.  Checkers don’t ring you out at grocery stores,  “Self Check Out” stations do.  You buy your bus tickets at a kiosk.  You check in  for your flight at a kiosk.  Kiosks aren’t paid, dont need lunches or breaks and aren’t subject to labor laws, need health insurance or injure themselves on the job.  This is what companies seem to think is their future…NO LABOR.

There is one small problem with this frame of thought….Every company is making SOMETHING they want to sell.  Twaddlers and Widgets needs to sell their inventory to make any money.  Grocery stores need to sell groceries etc etc etc…

Who buys stuff?  WE DO!!  Humans with money….money they get only by having a job….WE buy the widgets, the twaddlers, the groceries, the plane tickets….all the stuff that industry wants to make without any humans around anymore.  You cannot make consumables without considering that customers must have money to buy them!!

On my own personal small level…I am in charge of 5 people…myself included. 3 of the people are techs.  They are valuable to me and I care for them.  The company doesn’t care about them one bit.  Each week I write a schedule that  flexes…Flex labor is what we call it.  We have to monitor script count every day to meet certain goals.  If we fall short of daily projections,  people go home. It bothers me that some weeks my very valuable staff have fewer hours than they need to pay their bills because we didn’t meet the script count.

Rent doesnt flex.  Car payments dont flex.  My part time tech told me over the weekend he loves working for me but he cannot afford these flex hours.  He needs a paycheck that is not only regular but MORE. I told him I understand.  he knows the ugly position I am in.  Its black and white. He sees the labor chart posted in the pharmacy.  X scrips =Y hours. ONly now its X scripts =Y-4 less hours.

What does that mean?  To customers it means you will wait longer for your prescriptions.  We already work at our safety limits.  We are at the “angle of repose” when it comes to safety..and if you dont know what that is…look it up and it will make sense. Its similar to a “tipping point”.

My partner and I donate labor hours so that our techs get more. We donate our time so that the store opens on time because they feel its appropriate to schedule your labor hours for only the time you are OPEN. They consider it wasteful to schedule somebody early.  Ever try to open a business at 9 am by arriving at 859?  doesn’t work….We have 4 computers to launch, a cash pan to retrieve, an order that is delivered before we open, and a queue that is often loaded to triple digits full of scripts.

When I started working for this company the pharmacy was open 58 hours a week and we had 2 pharmacists and 2 techs.  We are now at 78 hours a week with 2 pharmacists and 2.25 techs.

I am labor. Their number # 1 controllable expense.  Fine.  But I control the shrinking dollars I have left after my bills are paid and they wont be going back into MY store till anymore.