Simple changes to each day can improve motivation and wellness for pharmacists.
With so much chaos and change over the past 3 years, pharmacists and pharmacy leaders must take a moment to acknowledge that stress before looking to the future, according to keynote speaker and author Daniel Pink at McKesson ideaShare 2022.
Pink said that it is impossible to know what is coming next and, as a result, pharmacies need to experiment and try new approaches to see what works. To this aim, Pink offered 5 evidence-based suggestions for pharmacists looking to positively impact themselves and their teams.
First, Pink said it is essential to see progress being made each day to stay motivated. In a study by researchers at Harvard Business School, investigators sent emails asking volunteers each day whether they were motivated. This happened each day for more than a year, resulting in more than 12,000 daily diary entries of individuals’ motivations at work. The researchers found that the single biggest day-to-day motivator was making progress in meaningful work.
“It’s often very hard to see the progress you’re making,” Pink said. “You have to look for ways to find that feedback and information on your own.”
To do this, Pink encouraged attendees to establish daily progress rituals, such as writing down 3 ways that progress was made at the end of each day, which can be a simple way to remain motivated and to see the path ahead.
In his second suggestion, Pink said that leaders often focus too much on how to do things and too little on why certain things are done. He discussed a study in Boston that sent researchers to a traditional cafeteria, in which the chefs and customers could not see each other. The researchers then installed an iPad that allowed the cooks to see the customers as they selected their food, and they found that customer satisfaction with the food increased by 10% when the cooks could see the customers.
“When people know the purpose of what they are doing, they do it better,” Pink said. “It’s that simple.”
Pink’s third suggestion was to make tasks easy for people to do, rather than trying to change their minds about it. In a study at a university, students received either personalized or generalized communications telling them about an upcoming food drive and asking them to participate. The personalized communications also included specific instructions about the type of food to bring and where to drop it off. Researchers found that among students who were both likely and unlikely to donate food, participation increased when they had specific instructions about how to do so.
“We spend too much of our time trying to change people’s minds, and not enough time just making it easy for people to act,” Pink said.
He added that once individuals take action, their minds often change as a result. In the food drive study, even students who may not have been previously interested in hunger issues were more likely to be interested as a result of participating.
Pink’s fourth recommendation urged pharmacists to consider their own wellbeing by taking effective breaks. Pink outlined a study in Denmark that investigated whether the time of day for standardized testing affected students’ scores. They found that students who took exams first thing in the morning scored the best, whereas students’ scores decreased with each hour that passed after that; however, students’ scores increased again if they took a break before their exam.
Importantly, Pink said breaks should be considered part of your performance, rather than a deviation from work. He also outlined 5 things to do to ensure that breaks are effective, including being active rather than inactive, having social interactions during the break, going outside rather than staying indoors, and fully detaching from work.
Leaders should model breaks as a sign of strength, Pink added. Rather than discussing breaks as a sign of burnout, leaders should encourage breaks as a preventive measure to improve wellness among pharmacy staff. If everyone took a 15-minute break in the afternoon to go for a walk without their phone, Pink said he believes the world would be a happier and healthier place.
Finally, Pink encouraged attendees to be bold. In his own research on regret, Pink has collected more than 21,000 regrets from individuals in 109 countries, and he has noticed a common similarity among many respondents. In every domain of life, many respondents said they regret playing it too safe rather than taking a risk.
Pink said respondents who took a risk that did not work often do not regret it, but those who failed to take a risk nearly always do. Interestingly, this finding also increases with age. Younger respondents said they regretted things that they had done, whereas older respondents regretted things that they did not do.
“Learn from these people—take the chance,” Pink concluded.
Pink, Daniel. Opening General Session. McKesson ideaShare 2022; July 8, 2022. Accessed July 8, 2022.