How Employee Offsites Can Boost Morale at Your Pharmacy


Leveraging the knowledge of tenured employees is important, but finding a culture and creating an environment that allows employees at any stage in their career to succeed within your pharmacy is critical.

I’ve had the luxury of working in numerous pharmacy environments, whether I was covering a shift to help out a friend at a local retail chain, leading teams at my home infusion pharmacy, or staffing as a hospital pharmacist. The culture in each position was very different, but I have been able to participate in a wide variety of activities with my very different pharmacy teams.

We come to work each day and interact with the same team members. Some of us have been around a while and have a specific approach to each task, whereas others are new and look at the practice of pharmacy with fresh eyes. Leveraging the knowledge of tenured employees is important, but finding a culture and creating an environment that allows employees at any stage in their career to succeed within your pharmacy is critical.

One effective way to build a strong culture is through team building activities. We come to work each day and check tasks off our list, we deal with frustrated customers and make those sometimes difficult calls to suggest a therapy or dosage change which is not always received well. Stress is natural for pharmacists, so finding a healthy balance of fun for you pharmacy team is important.

Win points with your team by planning creative off-site events. If you work in retail, plan an after hours event and take your employees out for a fun team building event. If you’re in a hospital setting and after hours is not an option for your pharmacy environment, break your employees into groups and plan some time for each group out of the hospital.

Make the scheduling work so that you aren’t really cutting into your employees personal time and this outing will feel like a prize. My hospital often paid travel time for CE trips in great locations for groups of us and paid us education time as well. We really bonded during those trips and grew professionally which benefited our patients and the organization.

Here are some offsites to consider:

Take on a painting or a cooking class.

Creativity isn’t always part of your day at the pharmacy, so giving employees the opportunity to tap into a different part of their brain can be really fun. Two options to consider are a cooking class or an art program.

Offsite cooking classes can give your staff a chance to learn new things while getting to know each other and practicing their skills as a team. Some locations that host offsite cooking classes even create a competitive environment. But the best thing by far about any cooking class is that your employees can enjoy their creations at the end of the instruction.

Painting classes may seem intimidating but they’ve become extremely popular thanks to the wine and paint options. I even went to a paint-and-pray option at our local church. We had more than 50 people sign up and had to start a sign-up sheet for next time. The instructor typically starts by showing the class the image they will all be recreating then they walk you through some simple techniques. The hardest part for of the whole process is the need to just let go and take chances. The whole pharmacy team can enjoy this activity.

Put on a show or take your team for comedy or karaoke.

This one may seem a little out of the box but that may just be the best way to celebrate a team offsite. Back in the day we had talent shows at our local hospital. I have fond memories of some of my colleagues entertaining us with some really creative talents. I am told my husband was part of an epic performance of the “Blues Brothers” at one of their work events. He worked in Plant Operations but partnered up with one of the hospital pharmacists. I didn’t work there yet so I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing this performance. Sadly it was back in the 80s before cell phones. What I would give to have a cell phone video of that moment.

Comedy classes are offered across the United States and give teams a chance to learn how to read each other. My daughter attended a comedy class for work in Atlanta as one of the newest members of her team. Despite some anxiety before the actual event, she really enjoyed the class.

They typically start with a few easy drills or memory games. You say “zip” then point at someone who says “zop” and points to someone else who says “zap.” The point it to see how long your team can keep it going. By the end of the class, you’ve worked through the basics and may stage a press conference or interact on stage. When you sign your team up for a class at a local theater, there is typically an option to get tickets for the professional show that evening. Go for dinner after your comedy practice sessions and then come back to watch the professionals in action.

Another option for smaller groups is karaoke. Korean-style karaoke gives teams a chance to rent a private room complete with microphones, strobe lights, and lots of song options. Enjoy some snacks and sing through some of the hits you love and remember.

Get active with bowling, an arcade, a driving range or skiing.

Sometimes the best way to let off a little stress is just by getting active. Take your team out for a fun activity that lets them embrace their competitive side.

Bowling is an easy activity and team members can just hang out and snack if they aren’t feeling up for it. There is a bowling tournament every year in our town that proceeds go to Relay For Life. They accomplish 2 things at once.

An arcade or dinner spot with games like Dave & Busters or a small arcade in a local town can also be a great choice. Let your employees enjoy some time away from the office just to be a big kid.

Finally, not everyone on your team will likely be a fan of golf. Some of them may have never swung a club, but don’t let that stop you from giving them the chance to learn something new. Don’t sign the team up for a round of 18 unless you know they all will enjoy it, instead pick a driving range or fun hang out spot like Top Golf and enjoy some snacks and drinks while team members compete for the best drive. This is a great chance for your pharmacy crew to learn how to swing a club.

We are fortunate enough to live near a ski resort and we have taken day trips over the years to tube or ski. I am not a skilled skier but even I had a good time just hanging out on the bunny slope and trying. Whatever you choose getting active together bonds your team outside of work in ways that cannot occur during your day to day events.

Catch a game.

Even if you live in a small town, sporting events are never too far away. Take the team for a tailgate before the rival high school football game or if you’re in a city that boasts an NFL team, cheer on your pro athletes.

From farm team leagues to the pros, your staff will enjoy a day at the field, court or ring. Our hospital has supported our local Single A Baseball Team for years by sponsoring employees and their families for a Night at Bowen Field. We were encouraged to dress up in team colors and enjoyed the traditional hot dogs, peanuts, and cracker jacks at the baseball game. This little local team started as the Bluefield Orioles in 1958 and was the home for Cal Ripken Jr’s Pro Debut with the 1978 Bluefield Orioles. In 2011, they changed their affiliation to the Bluefield Blue Jays organization.

You might choose to take on a challenge with a team building course, escape room or scavenger hunt. Have you tried an escape room yet? These trendy options for a night out are becoming more and more popular. Basically, your team is locked in a themed room and has 1 hour to find all of the necessary clues to escape. See if your team has what it takes to escape. This is on my to do list with one of my pharmacy work families. I know If there is one near me in rural southwest Virginia there must be one close to your pharmacy as well.

When it comes to team building, there are lots of options for getting your employees engaged. Try a ropes course near your pharmacy and test your team to work together. These courses are led by experts and can be fine tuned to fit your teambuilding needs.

Finally, think up a creative scavenger hunt for your team to try out. Give them a list of prompts and send them all over town to gather photos to see who can come back successful. Break the group into smaller teams and give them a chance to get to know someone a little better as they race against time to take a picture in front of the local mascot or shake hands with a stranger. I have done this with my local church and we always have a blast.

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