Keys for Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in the Cannabis Industry

As with any field, a number of factors are integral to job satisfaction in the cannabis sector. Among the top considerations for most employees is pay and perks. In a new report, CannabizTeam breaks down what compensation and benefits mean to employees and what employers can do to make their workers feel valued.

February 21, 2023 – Attracting and keeping talented cannabis employees that fit your company culture is top priority for all human resources departments in the industry. One market, the legal cannabis industry, has over 420,000 full-time employees. However, the revolving door of the space is an issue every cannabis business must deal with, like any other industry, according to a report from CannabizTeam, a cannabis-focused executive search firm.

Although work-life balance and company culture are usually the top reasons employees accept or stay at cannabis jobs, pay and perks are right alongside them. One report by Reflektive concluded that 58 percent of employees consider salary as the main factor in choosing work, followed by benefits and vacation packages. “To attract top cannabis talent, your business needs to provide attractive compensation, and benefits,” said Liesl Bernard, chief executive officer of CannabizTeam.

“Cannabis job salary, compensation, and benefits are pivotal in maintaining an employee’s workplace satisfaction,” she said. “After all, those components affect their motivation to work, as well as their performance. The right pay and perks for cannabis jobs are effective ways a company can show they value and acknowledge the hard work employees put in.”   

The Importance of Compensation and Benefits  

The CannabizTeam report explains that people strive to put themselves in the best possible position financially, as they know their value and will seek cannabis jobs that pay accordingly. “Benefits are also essential, as they provide people with a boost in quality of life,” Ms. Bernard said. “Both compensation and benefits allow a person to live at a certain comfort level, so they can enjoy their hobbies and passions. As a cannabis business, offering attractive compensation and benefits will increase your chances of hiring the best talent. It will also improve employee motivation and even boost their loyalty.” 

When people feel valued, they are more motivated to come to work and do a good job rather than coast through the day, according to the CannabizTeam. Assembling the best team for your cannabis business is the most important part of running a company striving to achieve sustainable success.

Before diving further, the search firm notes that it is helpful to define the two terms for clarity. “Compensation is a reward paid to an employee for the work they perform,” said Ms. Bernard. “Most people know that compensation means money; however, it also includes unlimited paid time off, healthcare, bonuses, and more. Compensation includes your salary but also includes non-monetary payments.” 

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“Benefits are always non-monetary and are given as a display of appreciation,” the report said. “Flexible work schedules, the possibility of working remotely, catered meals, and gym memberships are some of them that fall under the benefits category.”   

Key Factors of Compensation and Benefits in Cannabis 

There are various aspects to compensation and benefits for cannabis industry jobs. Overall, there are four types of compensation: salary, hourly wages, commission, and bonuses, according to Ms. Bernard. “Together, compensation and benefits have four parts,” she said. “Fixed pay is the minimum payment from an employer to a cannabis employee. This includes bonuses and overtime. Cannabis employers set the amount based on several factors, including minimum wage in the state, the importance of the cannabis job, and cost of living.” 

Related: How Cannabis Executives Can Lead Companies for the Long Haul 

“Variable pay is the pay from an employer based on the employee’s performance and the overall achievements of the marijuana company,” she said. “It is also called performance-linked pay. When an employee achieves their goals, variable pay serves as a bonus or commission.”   

Ms. Bernard also explains that equity pay involves non-cash payments that represent a partial ownership of the company. Stocks and options are the common types of equity pay. Equity pay allows cannabis employees to get a share of the total company profits. Typically, Ms. Bernard says that the stocks vest after an employee has worked at the company for a set amount of time.   

Ms. Bernard lastly points to health benefits are payments received via health insurance explaining that by offering healthcare plans to cannabis employees, you are establishing your cannabis business as a people-first organization.   

Ensuring Fair and Equal Compensation 

recent salary analysis found that in 2021, women received about 80 cents for every dollar a man received. Like all other industries the cannabis space falls short when it comes to fair and equal compensation for all. “Being transparent about salaries and putting females and minorities at the decision-making table are ways that can help remedy this issue,” said Ms. Bernard. “In the cannabis job hiring process, compensation should be discussed. Labeling compensation discussion as taboo comes from an antiquated mindset.”  

Fair pay means that the compensation matches the difficulty and amount of job duties and responsibilities of an employee. For example, Ms. Bernard explains that one manager who handles supervising 20 employees and has specialized knowledge that contributes greatly to the company’s goals should be paid more than a manager who does not have a unique skill-set and oversees five people. 

“Equal pay is when two employees with the same knowledge, responsibilities, and skill-set have the same compensation,” she said. “With all the cannabis industry jobs available, ensuring fair and equal compensation takes effort.” 

Cannabis Salary Guide 

Ms. Bernard notes that using a cannabis salary guide is one way that you can strive for fair and equal pay. Most cannabis industry salary guides are free to download, so both parties can know the average salary for each cannabis job. Post a salary range on your cannabis job description and mention it during the interview process.  

Related: For Cannabis Companies, Aligning C-Suite Leadership is Job One

“Create a compensation review cycle for your cannabis business,” said Ms. Bernard. “Meet regularly with your HR and finance teams to discuss budget and salaries and have separate meetings with your employees. In the HR meetings, you can analyze changes in cost of living and competitive salary ranges.”  

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Communicating clearly about compensation is a substantial factor in retaining employees, according to Ms. Bernard. Based on a study by Payscale, employees are more engaged with their tasks if they know they’re receiving fair pay, and higher pay is undoubtedly a significant aspect in increasing motivation among employees. However, the study also found that when employees know where their compensation stands compared to the industry standard, they have an easier time engaging with their work. Out of the employees who receive salaries at the market standard, 64 percent believe they are being paid below average. Therefore, payment awareness is crucial.   

Attract the Best Cannabis Talent 

“Hardworking, talented employees know their value, leading them to look for the best compensation and benefits in the cannabis industry,” said Ms. Bernard. “If one part is lacking, they are more likely to pass up on your business’s cannabis job opportunity. HR managers should keep up with what competitors are offering so they can meet or exceed it. With so many cannabis industry jobs available, attracting the best talent for your company can be challenging without the right compensation and benefits.”  

Retain Talented Cannabis Employees 

With a competitive compensation and benefits package, the CannabizTeam report concludes that cannabis employees will feel more motivated. Additionally, the firm notes that their morale will remain high, allowing them to perform well more consistently. “When an employee is motivated, they are less likely to entertain other cannabis job opportunities and will devote more of their efforts to achieving the company’s goals,” said Ms. Bernard. “To calculate compensation and benefits for cannabis jobs, you should stick to the industry-wide standard. As a start, the latest cannabis salary guide can help you determine averages.”

“You can also look to a compensation expert to conduct cannabis salary surveys so you can determine a standard pay for the positions on your team and roles you are hiring for,” she said. “You can also have your HR professional look at different variables, including job performance ratings, educational qualifications, and past successes, to suggest fair compensation.”

CannabizTeam has 10 offices in eight states across the U.S. Since its inception in 2016, the search firm has placed top candidates from entry level to specialized C-suite leadership at private and public cannabis companies in North America and Europe. Multi-state clients include TerrAscend, Justice Grown, Ascend Wellness Holdings, Jushi, LEEF Holdings, NewTropic, and Benzinga.

Related: How to Attract More Diverse Candidates to Cannabis Companies

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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