Second Annual Cannabis People Practices Benchmark Survey 2016

Today is the launch of our second annual Cannabis People Practices Benchmark Survey.  This survey is designed for any Cannabis or Hemp business:  all medical, retail, grow, infused product, lab, as well as ancillary services are welcome to participate. Participants will receive a personalized data report as well as an advanced copy of the full results. 

As a Cannabis business, your participation in this survey ensures every one of your payroll and HR dollars count. The results will help you budget for HR costs strategically, and will provide insights to give you a competitive edge on a local, state and even national level. Knowing how you stand against industry HR benchmarks is a cornerstone for establishing your employer brand and remaining successful in the marketplace.

The Data:
This survey takes a Cannabis specific look at employee pay, benefits, talent, HR operations and people practices. All information collected is anonymous and aggregated when reported.

2015 Benchmark Survey:
We had some interesting insights last year when we looked at the five building block jobs of the Cannabis industry: budtender. grower, lab tech, infused product producer, packager/processor. Read last year's summary of the survey results

Stay tuned for our Survey Giveaways! We have a special giveaway for the business that recommends the most survey takers. Our second giveaway will be for the top promoter. To join the survey promotion giveaway, please email to receive your unique tracking link! More details are on the way.

Four Steps to Hiring the Right Talent

A company is only as good as its people. Part of that includes proper training and good management skills, but hiring the right people is the bigger battle. If you've ever had a bad hire, you know just how expensive a hiring mistake really is. Wrong new hires are unhappy and frustrated, and so are their co-workers. Save the headaches and hire the right talent. Here’s how:

Hiring the right talent starts with the right sourcing. Take a good look at where you are getting your potential hires. Referrals from existing employees are great once you are established — employees know each other and can work well together. In the meantime, you may need to turn to more traditional methods like inbound marketing and posting openings on job search websites. For a company in the Cannabis industry, there is a real risk that you could get flooded with resumes. It's a hot market and a fun industry, and there are always those who want to get involved with legal marijuana for the wrong reasons. You can try to balance your sourcing efforts with outbound techniques like surfing LinkedIn for potential hires or networking or turn to one of the many staffing solutions in the industry that can source the right talent. 

Next, you need to screen the candidates you identify. As you read cover letters and resumes, try to get an idea of who each person is and why they may want to join your company. Experience counts, but look more at the skills a person possesses and trends in their employment and education history. You also need to assess each candidate’s potential for what they can bring to your business. It's important to think about how potential hires will fit into your company’s culture. Interviews help, but also check social media profiles, do a Google search on each candidate’s name, and ask around.

Once you have screened your potential candidates, it's time to interview. This gives you a chance to ask questions as well as answer questions. Use this as an opportunity to gauge how the candidate might fit into your company. Is it a good personality match? In addition, you want to always have more than one interview and let all potential new hires meet more than one person, if not several, in the company. It's difficult to gauge whether a potential hire has real interest in the business while also trying to assess whether they're a good fit for the company.

At the end of the process, you should have identified at least one person who both meets the needs of your organization and fits in with the culture. While it's possible to make a bad hire even after all the sourcing, screening, and interviewing, the best thing to do is admit your mistake early and start again. However, you can reduce this risk by onboarding new employees and putting emphasis on team building throughout the orientation process.

Don’t let your business get left behind by hiring the wrong people. Take the time to hire the right talent. Source candidates carefully, screen them based on skills, and interview them multiple times, with different people. Once you commit to a hire, give them support by developing a successful onboarding process.

Promotion, Raise, or Bonus...Do You Know the Difference?

A promotion indicates a change in position where an employee now has different, new, or greater responsibilities and duties and is typically accompanied by a change in title and pay, however, a change in title only can be dangerous. It screams favoritism in the eyes of other employees and may also be viewed as an empty gesture to the recipient.  A promotion must be accompanied with real changes to responsibility and compensation otherwise your leadership could be questioned.  When executed correctly, a promotion says that leadership is invested in building a great team and everyone has a chance to progress in their career.  

A raise is often included as part of a promotion but can happen on its own.  A raise is a change to an employee’s pay level, typically done throughout the year versus a scheduled salary increase at a point in time.  Raises are given for a multitude of reasons but in order for them to be most effective, an employee should be able to look back at his or her employment and see progress in pay over time.  However, when payroll budgets are small, as they have been in recent years, raises are often perceived by employees as a cost of living increase.    As such, raises are only as effective as managers are with communicating them. It always best practice to accompany a raise with a message that clearly tells the employee that you value their efforts and contributions in making your business successful.  

A bonus is not attached to a promotion or raise.  A bonus in cash or other compensation is often used in two scenarios, as a one-time in recognition for an accomplishment or delivered as a result of achieving a milestone in a structured incentive program.   A one-time spot bonus is usually given at the sole discretion of a leader to recognize an employee in the moment.   A spot bonus typically has no criteria beyond that set out by the person awarding the bonus.  On the other hand, a bonus that is part of a structured incentive program will have well defined criteria.  In both cases, a bonus recognizes an achievement and performance that go above and beyond the normal.  

Before you decide between a promotion, a raise, or a bonus, have you thought about giving your employees a simple praise as part of your daily routine?  The problem businesses often have with providing bonuses is that they are not always timely, and thus lose their full potential impact.  It will never hurt to acknowledge great work when you see it.   The little things that get noticed and recognized each day have a profound impact on an employee, and some would argue even more so than any monetary incentive.  Recognition and praise that is genuine and timely does not cost you a dime and will have a big impact on your bottom line.  With simple praise every day you create a positive work environment that is contagious and engaging  

Safety in Grow Houses

Grow houses produce one of the most in-demand products in the US, and while they can be great places to work, they’re filled with potential safety hazards. Read on to learn about some of the biggest safety concerns in grow houses and how to nip them in the bud.

Practice Fire Prevention
Thanks to the unique combination of extensive electricity demands, innovative wiring and lighting techniques, and high temperatures, grow houses can quickly become environments that spark fires. When you establish procedures for addressing potential fire hazards before they start, you’ll be one step ahead. Be sure that you have functional smoke alarms installed in strategic locations throughout the building. Monitor the temperature constantly, and investigate immediately when the mercury rises above 150 degrees or your standard indoor temperature.

If a fire does break out, be sure that your grow house manager and other employees know what to do in order to get the situation under control. Notify all employees about fire extinguisher locations, and show them how to use extinguishers properly. Install fire-resistant doors on the grow house, so you can contain a situation if necessary.

Protect Your Employees' Health
The extensive lights inherent in grow houses will help your plants grow, but it won’t do your employees’ eyes any favors. These lights have harsh ultraviolet (UV) rays that can lead to eye damage or vision loss in a few short years. When working in the grow house, encourage your employees to wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays. Provide masks, so your employees can breathe easy when surrounded by Cannabis plants. If you use chemical fertilizers, supply your staff with disposable gloves, so they can protect their hands from irritants. Always have emergency supplies and a first aid kit on hand in case of burns, overexposure, or injury.

Take Care With Electricity
Grow houses demand massive amounts of electricity to power lights, air conditioning, and ventilation. Amateurs might plug everything into a single outlet, but that’s no way to run a professional operation. Resist the temptation to get creative and run your own electricity, and instead call in a professional electrician who can do the job correctly and safely.

Prevent Mold
Hydroponics mean water, and excess water that isn’t properly managed or disposed can lead to life-threatening mold problems. Mold can grow anywhere, from the trim rooms to the vegetation rooms, and it can lead to nasty respiratory and other health problems. Adequate ventilation can help solve this problem, but it requires constant monitoring. After all, mold can affect both your employees and your product, neither of which is ideal.

Keep Your Costs Down
Accidents and safety issues aren’t just unpleasant side effects of the Cannabis industry. They can actually cost you money. Be sure that you have a solid HR system in place in order to address issues before they become problems. Employers pay nearly $1 billion in worker’s compensation every year, but indirect expenses from accidents typically end up costing three times as much as direct ones. With an experienced HR team on your side, you can avoid loss of productivity, potential legal issues, and even costs for hiring replacement employees.

From fire prevention to mold management to employee accidents, grow houses have many potential pitfalls. Reduce the inherent safety concerns, and keep your business on the road to success.

Creating an Employee Handbook

An employee handbook articulates your promises and obligations as an employer and the rights of your employees. Employee handbooks help ensure consistency in how employees are treated and what they can expect from your company. The handbook also gives employees a resource to consult when they have questions about procedures, such as how to file a grievance or request time off.

Additionally, you can require employees to sign a statement saying they have received and read the handbook, which may help you if legal disputes arise. Here are a few topics you might consider including:

  • Anti-discrimination policies: you might include a section on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and equal opportunity employment laws by which you must abide as an employer.
  • Compensation: review timekeeping, overtime, raises, and other procedures.
  • Confidentiality and conflicts of interest: outline your policies and discuss whether you require non-disclosure agreements (NDA) or non-compete agreements
  • Work schedules
  • Standards of conduct: review dress code, ethics
  • Safety and security: be sure your workplace safety procedures comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regulations
  • Benefits and leave policies

Running a business is not easy. Hiring new employees adds yet another layer of complexity due to the many compliance challenges. Everything from the way you screen and hire people to what you put on the walls of your workplace can lead to HR compliance issues. With so much at stake, you owe it to your company to work with a professional to oversee your HR compliance. In doing so, you spare your organization the many headaches that can otherwise result.