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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Work crazies

Lately my job has been a little crazy. Without boring you too much, here's the story:
Walgreens (my employer) and Express Scripts (a pharmacy benefits manager) didn't re-sign their contract for 2012. That means that people whose health insurance contracts prescription benefits to Express Scripts can no longer use Walgreens.
Who uses Express Scripts? Lots of companies and employers, including all branches of the US military, the  state of Louisiana, the city of New Orleans, and more. In my area, about 30% of all prescriptions were billed to Express Scripts. That means that since January my district has taken a huge hit in sales. Lower sales and lower volume means we need fewer employees, and for the first time I can remember (I've been in pharmacy for 14 years), cuts included pharmacists, as well. Some pharmacists got cut to a full-time 32 hour week (a 20% pay reduction) and some were actually laid off. It was a necessary move, but it was hard for us as a district. I knew I would not be fired nor would my hours be cut, since I'm in management, but I also knew that people I worked with would be losing their jobs. Two girls I graduated with were laid off, which was pretty upsetting to me. Both were sweet people and good pharmacists.
This has been a stressful few months. The odd part of this story is that while other people are cutting hours and losing staff, I hired a new technician who starts next week! I have gotten busier as I've branched out into other areas and grown my business. It's great for me but I've been inundated with work. I keep leaving later and later every night, and the number of things I've shoved onto my "tomorrow" to-do list gets longer every day. I hope that when my new tech starts and is trained she can do some of the little odd-jobs that take up some of my precious time.
A few things that have helped me stay head-above-water in tough times:
- Being vocal. Send informative emails, ask good questions, share successes. Your coworkers and boss should constantly be reminded that you are there doing a good job. Don't fall off the radar!
- Finding gaps. For me, that meant finding gaps in care in my area, specifically in the very hospital in which I am located. Once you create the bridge to that gap, you are the only solution to a problem. People will be grateful - and will be loyal to your services.
- Working smarter. Do more with fewer hours of work by streamlining slow processes.
- Volunteering to expand influence. I often volunteer in the local healthcare community. A side benefit is that other healthcare providers can meet me, learn about what services we offer, and share knowledge.
- Being creative. If one source of revenue is removed, what other revenue-generating activity can you replace it with? In December, when I realized that Express Scripts and Walgreens weren't going to kiss and make up, I looked through my monthly sales data and noted things that were high-profit, but which we weren't capitalizing on. One big area for me was injectables like Procrit, Neupogen, and Leukine. I ramped up my marketing for these drugs to the peds unit, pointing out how convenient my location was (just down the elevator!).
- Taking it on. Ask for, and dive into, extra responsibilities. The more irreplaceable you are....the more irreplaceable you are!

I'm sure many of you have faced down-sizing at work in this economy. How have you weathered the changes? How did you keep the stresses from work from affecting your life in other areas?


  1. Freaking Express Scripts! I was going to the nicest Walgreens ever in Maine (yep, my insurance uses them too!) and now thanks to those jerks, I have to go to a super ghetto Rite Aid instead. Not that Rite Aid is necessarily ghetto in general, but the one that I go to is. So annoying! Half the time I end up stopping at the nice Walgreens for shampoo and stuff anyway since it's next door to my gym, but I really feel bad for the pharmacists there!

  2. Haha, be honest Shelly, Rite Aid IS ghetto! Lol. Remember the one on Broadway that is only a liquor store?!

    1. Haha I definitely have purchased alcohol from that fine establishment. :) So very sketchy!

  3. I feel you. I work for the postal service. And honestly I HAVEN'T been able to keep the stress from affecting my life in other areas. That place is gonna be the death of me.

  4. Rite Aids are definitely ghetto. Must be part of their styling/branding requirements.

    You sound organized. Volunteering on top of it all to meet more people? I don't know that I'd be that ambitious. It's admirable. I'm lazy.

  5. Great post - you sounds like a dream employee. :-)

    I've laid off employees before, & it's really tough. Things that I do - focus on results, continue to take training & grow myself, network, & continue to evaluate my resume to see what skills or experiences I would need to get to my five year goal - am I on track? Is there something I can do differently at work to get me on track?

  6. I am glad that you weathered this storm at work and are thriving. My company went through a HUGE merger, so lots of jobs were eliminated, but I left during the phase, and then came back last January... So I missed alot of the drama/pains of the merger. It's tough, though, as good people lose jobs and then people almost have survivor's guilt...