5 Ways to Reduce Turnover & Retain Employees in the Cannabis Industry

The highly regulated cannabis industry is plagued with employee turnover. Employees tend to stay at a company that offers competitive salaries, benefits, training, a healthy corporate culture, and professional development opportunities. Unfortunately, cannabis businesses often struggle with some or all these offerings, resulting in short stints of employment. Cannabis business are becoming mainstream, so it’s important to change their way of thinking and provide HR services just like traditional businesses. Employees often have career aspirations, and desire, ultimately, to grow with the business.

To increase employee retention, the cannabis business must recognize and adapt to today’s employee needs. This post shares five ways to reduce turnover and retain your employees. Putting the following ideas into motion will keep your employees longer, improve company morale, and motivate employees to perform well, which positively impacts your business in the long-term.

Ways to Increase Employee Retention in Your Cannabis Business

To increase retention, it is important to create an engaging and hospitable working environment where today’s employees are valued, appreciated, and have opportunities for career growth. Below are five ways to help create an environment that influences your employees to stay:

1.   Equip employees with the right training resources from the start

Employees often require routine training to be able to perform their job well, along with necessary ongoing training to stay current with industry regulations. At a dispensary, for example, budtenders need training on daily operations like inventory and the POS system; product training on the different cannabis strains and effects; compliance training to understand how dispensaries must operate to stay in business; and ongoing sales training and patient education to deliver optimal customer service.

Learn how employee training can turn your new hires into top talent.

2.   Offer a competitive salary

There are two reasons why your business should offer a competitive employee salary. 1.) A cannabis business can’t afford to hire and train a new employee only to have them resign within a few months. Studies show it can cost as much as 50 percent of an entry-level employee’s annual salary just to replace them. 2.) Competitive pay is one of the main reasons people select or stay with a company, and paying minimum wage doesn’t necessarily attract the best, loyal talent, especially if your competitors offer more. Management should research salary scales based on the business’ location and offer employees a competitive salary based on skillset, experience, and the market average.

3.   Consider offering business perks

Anyone in the industry knows it’s a challenge to offer competitive employee benefits. That’s why it’s important to develop a list of lifestyle and work schedule perks for working for your business. Consider the following ideas:

  • Free or discounted product
  • Conference or tradeshow attendance opportunities
  • Paid education/training courses
  • Tuition coverage
  • Daycare services
  • Flexible vacation and work schedule
  • Telecommuting work


4.     Create and foster a positive work culture

Having a culture that is welcoming, engaging, and hospitable helps ease the transition for a new employee, and can help motivate them to perform well. Managers and owners in the cannabis industry have a direct influence on culture and should work on developing and maintaining a positive environment that attracts and retains employees.

Here are a few considerations for creating a positive culture:

  • Encourage open communication and collaboration. Businesses with healthy cultures see communication as a two-way street where employees are welcomed in expressing ideas and are comfortable discussing problems/issues without fear of retaliation. Management should hold regular meetings with their employees and encourage dialogue instead of the traditional, top-down communication.
  • Ask for input on developing or improving processes and procedures. What better way to enhance your business than asking your frontline employees for their ideas on improvement? Asking for input helps employees feel valued and keeps them engaged in their work.
  • Recognize employees for a job well done. If employees aren’t recognized for their contributions, they can easily feel alienated and undervalued. Lack of recognition often leads to a loss in motivation, which may result in potential resignation. Management should develop a rewards and recognition program that shows employee appreciation and celebrates success.


5.    Make work “fun”

Team building activities, volunteer opportunities, and work celebrations are a few examples of activities that can help contribute to a fun culture. Other ways to make work fun may be to attend conferences and tradeshows, or encourage employees to shadow other employees at other grow sites or dispensaries. Focus on growth- build a professional development program

According to a LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Employees want to know there are growth opportunities available with a company. And, you want to be able to support an employee that desires to grow with your business. For employee longevity, try providing employees access to continuing education and professional development opportunities to strengthen their skills, keep them current with the industry, and prepare them for the next step in their career. Hold performance reviews that not only review the employee’s job performance, but also discuss the employee’s goals and the activities and management support needed to achieve them. Professional development should be an ongoing effort rather than a one-time conversation.

Build a Better Employee Retention Plan

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for improving employee retention. Data shows that retention works best with a combination of setting employees up for success from the day they’re hired, welcoming them into a positive and engaging environment, and offering career advancement opportunities can significantly help with reducing turnover.

OROleafhr provides the effective strategies needed to attract and retain the best talent in the cannabis industry. They are experienced in developing and implementing talent management and professional development programs that benefit both your employees and business. Contact OROleafhr today to discuss an employee retention plan for your cannabis business.

Interested in learning more about managing employees in the cannabis industry? Download the free ebook today.