Company culture can seem like an intangible aspect of business. Yet experts in most industries would agree that it’s essential to have a positive work environment for an organization to be successful in the long-term. So, how can cannabis dispensaries create an engaging company culture?
Knowing what matters most to employees is a start, and that’s exactly what Cannabis Dispensary wanted to discover as part of the “Best Cannabis Companies to Work For – Dispensaries” awards program. CD, in partnership with the Best Companies Group, an independent research firm that specializes in identifying great places to work, conducted a workplace study in the fall of 2019. For cannabis dispensaries that applied for the award, we asked their employees how well their companies handled leadership, communication, relationships, work environment, training, pay and benefits, and more, and you can read the results in this issue.
Participating dispensary leadership also completed a questionnaire about company policies, practices, benefits and demographics. Results from the employer survey were weighted at 25%, while the employee engagement section was worth 75% of the total evaluation.
Five dispensary operators, some of which are vertically integrated, scored high enough to be crowned among the “Best Cannabis Companies to Work For,” and you can read more about each. In addition, the co-founders of top-ranking Greenhouse Wellness, Gina Dubbé and Dr. Leslie Apgar, will share insights on how they built a strong cultural foundation for their Maryland-based dispensary at the Cannabis Conference, April 21-23.
Knowing what matters most to employees is a start.
The Employee Engagement & Satisfaction Survey asked employees to rank statements like “The leaders of this organization are open to input from employees” using a scale ranging from “Agree Strongly” to “Disagree Strongly,” and the results are interesting. Those who earned the “best” distinction scored much higher than their counterparts in questions about leadership and planning; for example, 90% of employees from “Best Companies” answered statements like “I have confidence in the leadership of this organization” favorably, while other companies averaged 71%.
“Best Companies” also performed much better on average on questions about role satisfaction (91% versus 79% for other companies), corporate culture and communications (87% versus 72%) and training, development and resources (84% versus 70%.) Overall, many employees surveyed indicated they were satisfied with their relationships with supervisors, as the averages of those questions were 92% for best companies and 84% for other companies.
Questions about pay and benefits, however, carried the lowest overall averages for both “Best Companies” (74%) and other companies (61%.) Eighty-three percent of employees from “Best Companies” agreed to the statement “My pay is fair for the work I perform,” compared to other companies at 59%. Both groups fell short when it came to specific benefits, like retirement and life insurance.
Many business decisions are data-driven, and we hope this research can help you determine which company benefits and programs you can prioritize to create a positive culture that will lead to happier, more productive teams and a more successful business.
Michelle Simakis, Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
More than 40 dispensaries sold adult-use product on Jan. 1, and $3.2 million in sales and more than 77,000 transactions marked the historic first day of adult-use cannabis sales in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The state reported $20 million in adult-use sales after the first 12 days. With demand still high, questions about supply and taxes creep up and conversations continue about equal minority representation in the space.
Full story: bit.ly/illinois-adult-use-sales
South Dakota Places Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Initiatives on Same Ballot
In early January, South Dakota became the first U.S. State to place medical and adult-use cannabis legalization measures on the same ballot, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett’s office issued a press release on Dec. 19, 2019, officially certifying an adult-use legalization initiative led by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. In December, the state certified a statutory initiative led by New Approach South Dakota to enact a medical cannabis law in the state.
Full story: bit.ly/south-dakota-ballot-initiatives
California Governor Proposes Consolidating Three Cannabis Licensing Authorities
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget would consolidate the state’s three cannabis licensing authorities into one organization “in an effort to improve access to licensing and simplify regulatory oversight of commercial cannabis activity,” according to a press release issued Jan. 10 by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. That agency, along with California’s Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health, is up for possible restructuring under this plan. Newsom’s proposal would pin the consolidation to a July 2021 deadline, and more information will be coming this spring.
Full story: bit.ly/california-cannabis-licensing-authorities
New York Governor Renews Push for Cannabis Legalization
After last year’s failed attempt at cannabis legalization in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is renewing his push for policy reform in 2020. The Democrat vowed to legalize adult-use cannabis this year in his Jan. 8 State of the State Address and included a plan to legalize and tax cannabis in a state budget proposal released Jan. 21.
Full story: bit.ly/new-york-cannabis-legalization
Cannabis Dispensary, along with sister publication Cannabis Business Times, has introduced the “Best Cannabis Companies to Work For” awards in cultivation and retail, in partnership with Best Companies Group, an independent research firm specializing in identifying and recognizing great places to work.
The winning companies scored high in several categories that are commonly recognized as key to creating a positive work environment and culture. The winners for CD are all involved in retail operations, including some vertically integrated companies that also have cultivation facilities.
The top-ranking company on this year’s cultivation list is Greenhouse Wellness based in Ellicott City, Md. The company’s story is also this month’s cover profile.
Runners-up, in order, are Jushi Holdings Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla.; ONE Cannabis in Denver; Hashtag Cannabis in Seattle; and The Grove in Las Vegas. The companies also are featured in the following pages.
Winners were selected by survey, which was distributed by the Best Companies Group between Sept. 20 and Oct. 18, 2019, to applicants. Employees at cannabis dispensaries, as well as vertically integrated businesses, were asked to complete online or paper surveys.
To be eligible, companies had to meet the following criteria:
- Must be a dispensary operation or vertically integrated; Have 50% or more of the business coming from dispensary operations;
- Be publicly or privately held;
- Qualify as a for-profit or not-for-profit business;
- Be based in the U.S. or Canada;
- Be legally licensed to sell cannabis for medical and/or adult-use under a state regulatory framework (or federal program if in Canada);
- Have a minimum of 15 full-time or part-time employees working in the U.S. or Canada.
The survey included questions about several key areas related to employee satisfaction, including leadership and planning, corporate culture and communication, role satisfaction, relationships with supervisors, training and development, pay and benefits and overall engagement. On average, 87% of employees at “Best Companies” responded positively to survey questions, compared with 74% of those at companies that did not make the list.
You can meet and learn from leaders from the two top companies in the cultivation and dispensary categories, as they will present a session on how to “Create a ‘Best Cannabis Company to Work For’ to Attract and Retain Top Talent” during the 2020 Cannabis Conference in Las Vegas, April 21-23.
- Jonathan Katz, Managing Editor, CD
Jerina Pillert, who co-owns Seattle-based Hashtag Cannabis with her husband Logan Bowers, says that the couple has been successful by applying their engineering background to growing their business. “What we’ve excelled at is creating processes that allow staff to operate without us,” she says. “We tackle operational problems every day, create a process for doing so, and they can solve problems on their own.”
The strategy has paid off for Hashtag Cannabis, which has expanded from a mom-and-pop shop to a team of 33 people with two retail locations and plans for a third location. In fact, Hashtag is in the process of moving from its existing stores to larger spaces in the same cities. The company’s employees are growing with the business, as well.
Most of the operations, marketing and managerial staff at Hashtag Cannabis started out in sales or as budtenders and worked their way up. For example, an employee may start off as a budtender, become an inventory lead, graduate to assistant manager and then store manager, and then get promoted to a leadership position, such as marketing director.
Employees are rewarded for their efforts with perks that include health care and dental benefits after 90 days as well as paid parental leave, 100% reimbursement on products purchased from company stores up to $100 per month and a 50% discount on all other products, and assistance with commuting and parking costs.
The company also helps customer-facing workers professionally develop using customized training. For example, Hashtag Cannabis designed and implemented budtender training materials to teach workers how to educate consumers about cannabis, including clearing up misconceptions about it. “We’ve done a lot of training with staff to teach them how to ask a customer if they’re new to cannabis or a connoisseur,” she says.
Pillert emphasizes strong two-way communication. Monthly companywide and weekly team meetings are “anything but dull” because they encourage employees to engage in productive conflict over new ideas. “A concept we use a lot is ‘disagree and commit,’ which means that employees are allowed to disagree while a decision is being made,” she says. “But once a decision has been made, everybody must commit to it.”
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