Tip of the Week: Organizational Behavior and Pharmacy Technicians
There are a number of ways to examine issues around supporting and developing pharmacy technicians, but perhaps the best way is to frame the issue using an organizational behavior lens.
Many studies have examined quality of work life for pharmacists; however, fewer studies have done the same for pharmacy technicians. Hopefully readers understand the necessity of including technicians in the rising tide of ships that is pharmacy practice.
There are a number of ways to examine issues around supporting and developing technicians and other employees, but perhaps the best way is to frame the issue using an organizational behavior lens.
A recent study examined the quality of work life of pharmacy technicians; however, what was unique about this study was that it was conducted from an organizational behavior framework. The study was an examination of how employees fit within the current goals and scope, along with the expected changes on the horizon for the business and its entire industry (pharmacy).1
The study employed a qualitative approach to get richer information that could not have been gleaned from a numeric survey. The organizational behavior approach taken contextualizes the contributions of constituents within an organization and, in turn, how their behaviors might affect each other and the organization as a whole.
The results produced 4 primary themes: career impetus, job responsibilities, quality of work life, and equitable partnership. Career impetus was characterized by technicians entering the field primarily to help others, with a surprising number of them recruited into the field directly by pharmacists.
Job responsibilities suggested that technicians were ready to accept greater scopes of duties. Quality of work life found technicians to be highly stressed, particularly for the low salaries they earn, even while they reported relatively high levels of commitment.
Equitable partnership suggested that technicians are ready to give to the pharmacy in a reciprocal relationship, provided that the employer demonstrates some commitment toward them. Rate of pay serves as both an extrinsic and intrinsic motivator.
Extrinsically, higher earnings mean more financial security. Intrinsically, higher earnings connote greater value and contribution made by the employee. Pharmacy managers can effectively recruit good technicians themselves.
They can help technicians feel as though they are part of a winning dyadic exchange with the organization and have something to aim for in their careers, preferably with a career laddering mechanism, but even in the absence of one. After all, technicians are people, too.2
Additional information about technicians and organizational structure and behavior in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.
- Desselle SP. An in-depth examination of pharmacy technician quality of worklife through an organizational behavior framework. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2016;12(5):722-732.
- Adams AJ, Desselle SP, Austin Z, Fenn T. Technicians are people, too: Let’s consider their personal outcomes along with other pharmacy outcomes. Ann Phamacother. 2019;53(5):545-547.
About the Author
Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, is professor of Social/Behavioral Pharmacy at Touro University California.