Attracting the right talent is critical to a cannabis business’s success.
The industry has a slightly higher turnover rate than other more established industries. Headset data recently found 55% of budtenders leave the role within their first year.
“The U.S. work landscape is shifting at the same time that the cannabis industry is evolving — and it seems like it’s happening at warp speed,” says Kelsea Appelbaum, VP of Partnerships at Vangst. “It’s critical that you keep up with your competition when it comes to culture, pay, benefits, and career-pathing, or you’ll be left behind.”
We caught up with the cannabis career experts at Vangst to learn the best tips for attracting and keeping talent in your business for the long term. Since its founding in 2016, offering resources for cannabis-specific jobs and staffing solutions have been the company’s primary focus. On its job listing platform called the Vangst Talent Network, job seekers and brands apply for and list new roles. There are currently 2,000 jobs on the site and over 84,000 members.
Vangst’s goal? “To make sure the cannabis industry continues to grow the right way, so that every individual is Proud to Work in Cannabis.”
Here are 8 actionable tips on how to attract and keep team members:
1. Pay well
Vangst says one of the most effective ways to attract talent is to offer a good starting salary. “Our 2021 Vangst Cannabis Industry Salary Guide survey showed us that, like most industries, the biggest things a company can do to attract and retain workers is to maintain a healthy culture and offer competitive pay and benefits,” says Appelbaum.
2. Value health and happiness
Benefits are just as crucial for new employees as salary. Data backs this up, says Vangst. “74% of the employees who responded to our survey last year told us that medical, dental, and vision benefits were the No. 1 company perk most important to them when considering a job,” says Appelbaum. “PTO, opportunities for advancement, flexible time off, and remote work round out the top five.”
The good news is that cannabis companies are listening to their staff, says Appelbaum. “Last year’s survey was the first time since we first began polling cannabis companies five years ago that every single company surveyed provided some sort of benefits package.”
3. Offer opportunities for growth from the entry-level
People may want to enter the cannabis industry, but because of its nascent nature, don’t have past experience. Make sure your entry level positions have opportunities and pathways for growth. “It’s probably no surprise that we’re seeing the usual popular entry-points for early career cannabis workers like budtending, cultivating, manufacturing — especially in newer legal states,” says Appelbaum.
These entry-level type roles should give employees a way to truly show off their passion and work ethic.
4. Find your ideal Accountants, HR, and C-Suite
The unique types of ‘Traditional Industry’ roles that you may have found exclusively in other sectors in the past are increasing in the cannabis world. “We’re also seeing the stigma wear off as the cannabis industry professionalizes and expands while salaries and benefits meet or exceed those in more ‘traditional’ sectors,” says Appelbaum.
“That means more workers are looking to the cannabis industry as a promising career path,” she says. “We’re not only placing accountants and human resources positions but also helping a lot of C-level and VP-level executives land lucrative positions at cannabis companies.”
5. Get creative with marketing and sales
Creativity is key in hiring new employees. Marketing and sales roles are both fertile ground to find employees who are creative multitaskers, and who may function well in high pressure environments. “Roles like marketing and sales seem to have the easiest, most frictionless transition and are definitely in high demand,” says Appelbaum.
The cannabis professional is ever-evolving. Vangst has a new report coming that offers more insight into what this modern cannabis employee looks like. “We’ll be putting out a white paper in September that will give the industry fresh insights into the new cannabis professional,” says Appelbaum.
6. Be transparent
While weed is still a brand new industry, existing companies are doing a great job of treating their employees well and offering benefits, says Appelbaum. “The entire cannabis industry deserves a shout-out. Seriously. The oldest regulated adult-use companies have been doing business for fewer than 10 years. And they’re already meeting and beating salaries and benefits of industries that have existed for decades (or longer).”
“Our Cannabis Industry Salary Guide is the best real-world example we can point to, and every company that took the time to complete it is an example of a company that’s doing the right thing with benefits, culture, and transparency,” she says.
7. Join the Vangst Talent Network (for free)
Having a cannabis-specific place to list jobs is a plus. The Vangst Talent Network is a bustling platform for job seekers. “Our mission at Vangst is to help great people find great careers with great companies in this great, emerging industry,” says Appelbaum. “By joining the Vangst Talent Network, you’re gaining access to the most comprehensive talent-matching tools in the cannabis market.”
On the platform, individuals looking for employment can create a professional profile that allows them to tell our recruiters and potential employers who they are. “You can upload a resume and highlight any accreditations you may have that allow you to work in the cannabis industry. If you’re ‘badged,’ for example,” says Appelbaum.
Companies can also build their own dashboards to describe their business, show off their culture and values, and even post photos of their facilities, team, and anything else that might be important for potential employees to see. Brands can post jobs and accept resumes directly through the platform.
“There are currently more than 2,000 jobs live on the Vangst platform along with about 84,000 members who are passionate about the plant and industry,” says Appelbaum. “Members can browse jobs and, if they’ve uploaded their resume and credentials, take advantage of our ‘one-click apply’ feature. Those 2,000 jobs typically do not include roles that our recruiters are working for confidential, vetted searches, though. So if a Vangst Talent Network member doesn’t see an open job they’re looking for, they can access our recruiters who are tapped into the industry and its workforce needs.”
8. Expect healthy competition
“Remember that you’re operating in an extremely competitive climate,” says Appelbaum. “The pandemic and Great Resignation really changed the game — it’s no longer enough to offer front-line workers a dollar or two over your city’s minimum wage.”
Competition is stiff, especially since the unlicensed market thrives and traditional industries are now entering the chat. “There are more and more companies entering the regulated market every year,” she says, “You’re not only competing against traditional sectors, but also cannabis companies who are hungry for talent and setting their pay and benefits according to market standards when it comes to white-collar positions.”