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Perks and Employee Benefits in the Cannabis Industry

As more states legalize cannabis and the markets in legal states continue to mature, the industry is experiencing a commensurate rise in job postings for every type of employment. The trend will continue. New Frontier Data projects that by 2020, just two years from now, the number of new jobs created by the cannabis industry will eclipse those created by the nation’s entire manufacturing sector. Is it any wonder, then, that trade events increasingly tack job fairs onto the regular schedules? Their exhibitors and sponsors are hiring or preparing to hire. No one is downsizing!

The industry’s rate of growth also is accelerating. Per data provided by cannabis staffing agency Vangst, the industry produced a 690-percent increase in job listings between January 1, 2017, and August 1, 2018. The surge in new jobs led to an increase in the average salary, up 16.1 percent during that time frame. For 2019, Vangst anticipates another 220-percent jump in job postings, adding further upward pressure to salaries, which will entice more top-drawer mainstream talent to consider a career in cannabis. That will, in turn, create increased competition among cannabis companies to find and keep the best talent. The dynamic may play out at every level in the cannabis employment food chain, from trimmers and drivers (delivery and distribution) to store managers, compliance specialists, and directors of cultivation, to name but a few.

Because there is no employee handbook for the cannabis industry, no universally accepted standard of employment protocols to lean on, companies are left to establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) on their own. They may hire permanent staff in one location while outsourcing the same jobs in another. Similarly, at the executive level, new hires enter a world in which compensation varies greatly based on still-evolving norms, a situation that could work to their advantage but which certainly leaves room for creative, individualized environments.

In the end, each company must determine for itself how to attract and keep talent. Compensation will play a large role, of course, as will benefits and special perks offered by the company, and so will company culture.

Using data culled from employers in six cannabis-legal states, Vangst reported 71 percent of cannabis companies offered medical insurance to employees. Additionally, 51 percent provided dental insurance for full-time employees, 46 percent offered vision insurance for full-time employees, and 46 percent of the companies offered all three types of insurance to full-time employees; 21 percent offered no insurance at all. Twenty-nine percent provided either 401K or stock option plans.

“When you create a positive and professional work environment for employees, your company’s reputation and culture will attract great people,” said Kerry Arnold, “chief people officer” for Canndescent, a large-scale cultivator in California with grow sites in Desert Hot Springs, offices in Santa Barbara, and plans for retail expansion. “Although it sounds simple, it requires constant attention, care, and a continuous collective effort to develop a strong culture. Every employee at Canndescent is a steward of our culture and values.”

Arnold said the company, which is hiring, has been on the receiving end of the great migration of workers into cannabis. “This industry is attracting great talent,” he said. “People are crossing over from [consumer packaged goods], pharma, wine and spirits, and other long-standing industries. They are interested in the new and exciting opportunity to be a part of the hyper-growth stage of the business.”

According to Arnold, the top three factors prospective employees consider are:

  1. The desire to be part of a winning team.
  2. Opportunity for professional growth and development.
  3. Employment where they can make a difference and have an impact.

Those interests, he said, work to create a positive and effective environment. “When your employees are passionate about the product and services the business offers and feel recognized for their contributions that make an impact, you are able to retain passionate employees and create a great culture,” Arnold said. “Earning opportunity and benefits are important, but that alone will not retain your best people.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Tom Hymes on mg Retailer

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Published: December 27, 2018

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