Hiring the Right Team for Your Cannabis Operation

Written By Jenny Germano

When hiring the right team for your cannabis operation, there are a few important factors to consider. One, is having a plan of action in place when it comes to deciding the job roles you’re looking to fill and who will fill them. 

Before opening the doors of your cannabis facility, have well defined job descriptions in place. It will make for a smoother transition utilizing employee recruitment platforms and promote a robust onboarding process of employees when having the proper roles defined. 

During the application process, build in specific application instructions or create a questionnaire. For example on Indeed.com, you can create questions for potential employees to answer. See where their skill level is at for following instructions and the basics, like a cover letter, resume and references. 

Here are some best hiring practices:

  • Look for employees who already have a work history in a regulated environment such as healthcare, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, health and sanitation, casino, public health, or the restaurant industry.
  • When it comes to hiring for compliance positions, look for specific certifications, like Quality Assurance, ISO, OSHA, Food Safety, CQA (Certified Quality Auditor).
  • Request a cover letter with the resume. 
  • Ask for references and actually check them.
  • Ask the applicant about their goals and plans for the future – this will tell you if they are goal oriented.
  • Dress to impress - this still matters. How did the person dress for the interview? Will your company have a dress code or does it matter? 
  • Do a working interview to see how they engage. 
  • If you’re looking to dive deeper, ask potential employees to take a DISC assessment, which shows strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Ask relevant and well thought out interview questions.

Cannabis employees are part of the gears moving the industry forward in a marketplace constantly under a microscope. As a business, you need to grease the gears to keep everything operating properly, especially in a regulated industry. 

Most often, in cannabis a lot of companies struggle to retain employees, and there can be a gamut of reasons. The workforce has changed drastically and it’s no longer the 1990’s or the early 2000’s. Operators need to adapt to the changes happening in the workforce, or as a business, you’ll be a revolving door for employees and potentially putting your company at risk when it comes to compliance. 

Here are some best practices for retaining employees: 

  • Offer health insurance, 401(k), IRA mutual fund, or  investment in company stock.
  • Offer a living wage. If you pay employees $10 to $12 an hour, it will create a revolving door, especially in a market where the cost of living is high. 
  • Every quarter host an employee appreciation event, something that promotes team building. 
  • Every month provide lunch for the team and keep a well stocked break room with snacks, coffee, water etc. 
  • Award employees with performance-based incentives like gift cards, company swag or a bonus and a raise. 
  • Provide ample training for all levels of employees; educating them on compliance.
  • Get all level employees involved by facilitating monthly and/or weekly meetings to discuss important topics and provide support for their job roles. 
  • Give employees and the team goals to reach . . . and acknowledge their successes. Celebrate the Wins!
  • Utilize the “sandwich effect” when correcting or reprimanding employees – start with positive feedback, then deliver your corrective action and then close with a positive.
  • Ensure that your management team is experienced and the management systems you have in place are strong and consistent.
  • Have structure implemented and ensure everyone at the top (upper management) is adhering to it. Employees will mimic what they see and show up in the same manner - be the example. 
  • Have leaders in leadership roles. It can cause issues if you have a manager who is lacking in leadership skills. 

Lastly, we recommend all operators share this book with their management team, it’s a very short read and a great exercise for managers. It’s called “The One-Minute Manager” by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. It’s a great tool for managers and how to engage with employees as a supervisor.