Attracting and Keeping Top Cannabis Talent: 4 Experts Share Their Tips

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“A ‘war for talent’ has been heating up, but we expect it to really intensify in the coming years,” says one. Here, how to make your company stand out.

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Justin Dada, Co-founder and CEO, Flourish

What perks and incentives do workers seek? There is too much emphasis on perks, and that often distracts from what really matters. Too many companies are trying to leverage perks over stable base salaries. Longevity, company culture, the team you are working with—these are more important than perks because, at the end of the day, how can you actually reap the rewards of the perk if you aren’t going to be around long enough? With the lengthy list of startups in the industry, adding personal value and being individually integrated into brand development stand as incentives on their own.

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Offering incentives or equity as an alternative to stable income doesn’t work for every candidate. Every compensation package should be tailored to fit the candidate or position and contain clear terms that both parties agree on. It’s things like these that are generally more important than extra vacation days or working from home. —Justin Dada, Co-founder and CEO, Flourish


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Danielle Schumacher, Co-founder and CEO, THC Staffing Group

How can companies attract top talent?

Before anything else, invest in a [human resources] team. Allow them sufficient time to craft inclusive job descriptions, a welcoming interview process, and rubrics for fair hiring. Work with recruiters for key hires. Help with relocation expenses for skilled managers. One of the best retention rates is at 7 Stars Holistic Healing Center, a dispensary in Richmond, California, where the owners and managers do everything from reception to budtending and the entire team is knowledgeable about the menu. Berkeley Patients Group is celebrating its twentieth anniversary with $1 Million For Good, a campaign to invest $1 million in ten community partners. This kind of initiative will attract team members who want to be part of an organization that is making a tangible contribution to society.

Companies need to be creative when building teams. The strongest teams I’ve seen are a combination of people with and without cannabis experience and include all ages and genders. Predominantly white male teams are not sustainable, and the industry needs to move beyond hiring white women to bring diversity to a group. We are approaching a critical mass of people disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs who are insisting that cannabis companies hire those most impacted. It is unacceptable that the vast majority of owners in the industry are white, while thousands of black and brown folks are still incarcerated for low-level offenses. —Danielle Schumacher, Co-founder and CEO, THC Staffing Group


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Jacob Krushall
Senior Recruiter, Vangst

What can we learn from the mainstream about keeping top talent?

As dispensaries start to resemble high-end department stores, it’s critical to have the human resources within the environment reflect the make-up of the store. So, it’s extremely important to have a dedicated customer relations person available to address issues customers may have. You never want a customer to hold up the line or have a debate at the register with a budtender. Not only does this create a bottleneck for other customers, but it also creates a contentious environment that can discourage people from coming back. —Jacob Krushall, Senior Recruiter, Vangst


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Kara Bradford
Co-founder and CEO, Viridian Staffing

What will the jobs market look like over the next few years?

A “war for talent” has been heating up, but we expect it to really intensify in the coming years. Where we currently see this most clearly is among the lynchpin roles in cultivation, extraction, and chemistry—particularly candidates who have both cannabis experience and years of previous, relevant experience in similar industries like agriculture, food and beverage, and pharma. 

Lately, stock options have gained increasing popularity. However, both candidates and employers should beware of equity and stock option offerings. On the candidate side, make note of the vesting periods and talk to individuals who have been at that company longer and see if they’ve received the stock options they were promised. The devil is in the details of the offer letters and employment contracts. —Kara Bradford, Co-founder and CEO, Viridian Staffing

 

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