Few pharmacists would question the importance of training. But few pharmacists would be able to name a time when they can easily concentrate on honing their professional skills. The organised chaos of the average pharmacy makes it difficult to find the time during work hours and, once it’s all over, it’s hard to find the motivation when you could be relaxing. All in all, it’s little wonder that many pharmacists leave their mandatory CPD until the last minute and struggle to do any extra training.
It’s a problem that Day Lewis recognised and its solution – the Day Lewis Academy – earned it the C+D Award for Business Initiative of the Year 2014.
The academy was set up in 2012 to give employees more motivation to complete training and more recognition for making the effort. Using the company’s intranet, the academy gives employees a selection of learning activities to choose from and awards them with points upon their completion.
Each task carries between five and 25 points, depending on its importance and level of difficulty. And, as the saying goes, points equal prizes. Employees stand to receive bronze, silver, gold or associate member certificates signed by Day Lewis CEO Kirit Patel, according to how much training they undertake. They also stand to win a £50 voucher or an evening out with their team paid for by the company.
By giving out rewards, the academy has reaped many in return. The majority of staff have participated in the initiative and, as a result, feel more confident delivering services and giving advice. This fresh enthusiasm has boosted business. It seems like a win-win situation for employees and head office. So what has the experience been like for both sides of the business?
The impact in numbers
The head office view
Learning and development manager Laura Thurston (right) was part of the team that initially developed the Day Lewis Academy. She remembers first discussing the idea at the Day Lewis leadership strategy day in 2012, when it was agreed that employees needed more recognition for their achievements.
“One of our core values is to reward, recognise and empower our people, so we needed to add incentives to the training,” explains Laura at the Day Lewis headquarters in Croydon. “The points system was brought in to engage people in services and reward them as they went along.”
The head office quickly started work to make the idea a reality. Dealing with technology is rarely straightforward, but Laura says it was surprisingly easily to get the academy up and running on the Day Lewis intranet. “IT built it for us and within a week it was live,” she says. This is perhaps down to the simple design – the site clearly displays the learning activities and the number of points they represent.
More difficult was getting that “initial engagement” among employees, Laura remembers. The company got the word out by using its online forum and bulletin board and, crucially, its regional managers. Laura credits the regional managers with “really helping” to get the scheme off the ground by talking to employees about its benefits.
The figures serve as proof of their success. More than 70 per cent of Day Lewis’ 1,400 pharmacy employees have used the academy. Users are clearly deriving benefits, too. Since the academy’s inception in 2011, there has been an increase in the number of employees reporting satisfaction with their training in the staff survey. Day Lewis believes the academy has helped to change perceptions of learning. “It really has become a culture shift. Rather than ‘I have to’, it’s ‘I want to’,” explains Laura.
Clearly, there is plenty to be proud of. Not only has the academy created a culture of learning, but business has picked up since the academy was launched – P medicine sales have grown 12 per cent and vitamin sales have increased 40 per cent.
It would be easy to simply sit back and relax on the back of these results, but Laura says the head office is keen to continue developing the academy. There are plans to further increase its user-friendliness and extend the concept to learning about leadership, she says. “The academy is always evolving and we can add more training, more elements to it,” Laura sums up. “We want to build a lot more into it.”
The employee view
The success of the academy was not down to the head office alone. It is clear that without the support of the regional support managers, the academy wouldn’t have been such a high-flyer. They helped spread the word of the training programme and engage Day Lewis staff members across the country.
Amelia Andrews is one of these regional support managers. She looks after 17 pharmacies in the north-west London area and about 100 staff and, in her experience, employees were quick to embrace the new learning resource. This was partly down to the rewards system and partly down to its user-friendly nature, she believes.
“A few of them have got quite competitive now with how many points they’ve got, racing to get to their 500 and their gold certificate. Great enthusiasm, I would say,” Ms Andrews says. “The fact it is online is a huge thing – they can stand at the till when it is a bit quiet and they don’t have to fill in reams of paper.”
How the Day Lewis Academy works
Employees receive between five and 25 points for each learning activity completed, and receive certificates and awards for reaching certain milestones.
100 points = Bronze certificate
250 points = Silver certificate
500 points = Gold certificate
1,000 points =
Claire Whitaker, pharmacy manager at Day Lewis in Streatham, London, also believes the academy is a “great motivational tool” for teams. Crucially, she believes the training does sink in – the mini quizzes at the end of the learning materials help users cement their knowledge. She is also impressed with the topics available. – they “really focus your training” on areas of current importance, such as hayfever in summer, for example. “We all use the training, and every month we’re provided with new material,” she says. “For me, sometimes the material is a refresher but it is very helpful for other staff members.”
Fatemeh Roozbahani, pharmacist at the Day Lewis Twickenham branch, emphasises how important the training is to her team. “Before this, counter staff would do one off-training; this monthly training makes it easier to learn,” she says.
It seems regular training has become part of the culture at Day Lewis. The motivational rewards and easy-to-use technology of the Day Lewis Academy have clearly inspired employees, who have found time to fit training into their everyday lives.