8 Tips for Finding Your Cannabis Dispensary's Ideal Employees

Columns - HR HQ

8 tips for finding your company's ideal employees, the first time around.

February 12, 2021

Look for employees who are eager to learn and capable of fulfilling a variety of roles.

© djiledesign | iStockphoto

It is important for a business to hire personnel who are equipped for the job. Several research studies point out the high costs associated with hiring a person who's not right for the organization. There are the direct costs of recruitment, interviewing, onboarding and backfilling, but hiring the wrong person can also negatively impact your dispensary’s productivity, morale, company reputation, customer base and investments in training.

It's likely every dispensary has hired a person who wasn't a good fit and, therefore, wasted time and resources recruiting, interviewing and training. So, what can you, as the dispensary owner or manager, do differently to help ensure you are hiring the right people and protecting your time and money?

Here are 8 tips to help you make the best hiring decision.

1. Don’t rush the process.

Several HR studies indicate that the No. 1 reason for making a poor hiring decision is time constraints. Often, decisions are made in a hurry based on the belief that anybody is better than nobody. (“We will just train them to be the employee we want.”) It is common for a dispensary staff to be overextended because of poor staffing practices or rapid growth, or if there is a requirement for new skills, or a key employee departs suddenly, leaving a critical hole in the organization. While the urgency is real, it doesn’t mean that employers should overlook red flags or rush to fill staff vacancies. A staff can feel overextended during your conscientious search, but they will feel worse if they have to carry another team member.

2. Know what the organization needs for the long term.

Take time to understand what skills and attributes are needed to add value to your organization. Review, revise and re-write job descriptions to match organizational needs and future growth. (Read how to create job descriptions in the November/December 2017 issue of Cannabis Dispensary.) Make sure your job descriptions accurately describe the type of work and the environment in which work is performed. Phrases such as, “This isn’t a job for everyone,” “Working here is challenging,” or “We need people willing to put in some long hours,” will discourage applicants who are not going to be a good fit at your dispensary.

3. Understand the cost/benefit of every hire.

The dispensary owner/manager should have a clear sense of how the work that new hires will be performing will justify the cost of hiring them. You wouldn’t purchase new equipment or a new point-of-sale system without doing a return on investment (ROI) analysis. Your process for hiring should include this same type of ROI analysis, quantifying how hiring a person will add to earnings and profitability, so that the employee's salary and training costs can be recouped by what he or she brings to your dispensary in terms of skills and value. A good rule of thumb to follow is to hire when you know the ROI will be greater than the hiring cost, given a sensible amount of time for the new hire to be onboarded and become a top performer.

4. Know the federal and state employment laws regarding your dispensary’s hires.

For example, most states require that dispensary employees be at least 21 years of age at the time of hire. In California, new legislation states employers can no longer ask about past salary and benefits. Many states and cities require detailed background checks to determine information on felonies, misdemeanors and arrests. If criminal information is revealed, more information from the candidate may be required, especially when hiring senior management. Some states require documentation that dispensary owners, partners and officers have not been convicted of certain crimes. Thus, it is important to state in your recruitment materials and job description that background checks will be conducted before a final employment offer is extended. By stating this upfront in the in the recruiting process, the dispensary operator might eliminate applicants who won’t pass a background check.

5. Create an interview process that will deliver the right candidates and ensure that the management team has the skills to interview and hire the right people.

The process needs to be standardized and consistent, and present questions that are legal as well as indicative as to how the candidate will fit with your culture. Research studies indicate companies that lack a standardized interview process are more likely to make a bad hire than those that have such a process. (Learn more about the interview process in the May/June 2018 issue of Cannabis Dispensary.) Interview skills and the ability to discern candidates’ responses are critical to a good hire. In addition to ascertaining whether the candidate has the right experience for your open position, the selection team needs to be able to determine important attributes such as:

  • thinking style
  • learning pace
  • numerical skills and reasoning abilities
  • verbal skills
  • occupational interests
  • behavioral traits

6. Be able to articulate your employer “brand” and your dispensary culture.

To attract the right talent, a dispensary should convey messages about its company culture in recruiting materials and job descriptions, and on websites and social media. The dispensary’s expectations and how the team works together should be part of any employment discussions. For example, the importance of excellent customer service can be emphasized when you precisely describe what excellence means to your company.

The hiring decision should not only be based on skills and experience, but also on how well the candidate will fit into your dispensary’s culture and team.

7. Have a talent strategy to attract the best cultural fits.

The hiring decision should not only be based on skills and experience, but also on how well the candidate will fit into your dispensary’s culture and team. Not hiring for fit can negatively affect the entire organization. Great companies are truthful about their culture. Share your dispensary culture on social media and encourage current employees to share their work experiences on your website in the form of testimonials. Use the internet to promote your employer brand, so people can get a sense of what it is like to work in your dispensary.

8. When your dispensary is small and growing, hire employees who can thrive and add value at each stage of your company’s life cycle.

If the dispensary owner/manager is overwhelmed because there isn’t enough staff to delegate some of the responsibility, then your company will lose momentum. Hire early in the growth phase and look for employees who are eager to learn and capable of fulfilling a variety of roles so that they continue to add value as your business evolves.

Note: This column is not to be considered as legal or financial advice nor does it address all HR regulatory actions that may impact your business.