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Cannabis Jobs in the wake of COVID-19

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In a week 300 people from the hospitality industry specifically applied to our jobs

Throughout this period of dark uncertainty, cannabis has been a constant and flickering light. Because of their designation as “essential businesses” in over 30 states, many operators have continued to produce, and while there are millions of Americans filing for unemployment in travel, retail, and hospitality, the cannabis job market shows signs of continued growth. 

FlowerHire and Leafwire teamed up to get an insider understanding of the cannabis industry during this time. Their first act as partners was to get an expert panel of HR and Talent executives together in order to discuss how they’ve been managing cannabis during COVID-19. The panel featured talent leaders from Cresco Labs, Kiva Confections, and Ascend Wellness.

Here are the key takeaways from that event:
Cannabis companies are still hiring!

While many have paused on upper level roles while they adjust their processes to a virtual environment, they are actively hiring for retail and facilities roles.  

The general consensus of the panel was that hiring for upper-level management and leadership positions have largely been placed on hold. This can be attributed to the fact that companies are still adjusting to adjusting their hiring processes to the virtual environment.

However, that is not to say leaders are leaving their posts. Panelists commented on the change to the normal high turn-over rate of the cannabis industry.  Leaders of companies mentioned that they are using this time to catch up on educating their employees, both about COVID-19 safety and cannabis.

Although hiring for leadership has taken a pause, retail and facilities roles are still active! Cresco revealed that they had 250 retail roles that needed to be filled last week. Luckily for them, this is the perfect time for companies to pay attention to where the talent is located. Many of the operators on the panel observed a recent pivot from employees in the hospitality industry into cannabis. Scott Wells, Executive VP of Talent Acquisition at Cresco Labs, stated that of the 250 roles they had open, “in a week 300 people from the hospitality industry specifically applied.” Overnight, 10 of those roles were filled. 

So while hiring for management level cannabis jobs may be delayed momentarily, retail and facilities positions are undoubtedly hot! Getting hired can take time because licensed operators need their hires to be approved by the state. 

The panelists all agreed, if getting employees approved was not a long process before, it certainly is now. In most states, the time frame of getting employees started after hiring has doubled. The delay is mostly due to local regulators working from home; many of them don’t have the resources themselves to get the ball rolling. Having strong relationships with those regulators is ever more important for getting approval. As for training, everything has turned virtual.

Companies are getting creative and resourceful about keeping their teams connected. 

What extra precautions are companies taking during this time for the safety of their customers and employees? 

Communication is key! Google Hangouts, Zoom, and other ways of getting connected and seeing faces are critical during this time. Some have even implemented new technologies such as Alert Media to blast out mass updates to their employee database. Others are allowing employees to clock in on apps to avoid sharing computer systems at work. 

In terms of their actual operations. every panelist had much to say on their new company safety measures. In manufacturing facilities, production areas and break rooms have been rearranged to keep people apart. In offices, mandatory segregation by departments has been issued. In retail stores, shields have been added to keep both customers and workers safe. Likewise, companies such as Ascend Wellness Holdings have created appointments slots to come into retail stores. Leah Heise, Chief Administrative Officer at Ascend Wellness Holdings noted, “We are staying ahead of the stores, and having customers make reservations.” 

All companies have taken the initiative to provide employees with COVID-19 safety products such as masks, hygiene kits, and special safety training. Kiva went so far as to say their employees are subject to temperature checking before coming into work. “Our safety manager has forged a relationship with an industrial health clinic that employees can go to if they are suspected to have any symptoms,” disclosed Catherine Gonzalez, Director of Human Resources at Kiva

Cannabis will come out of this time stronger, more professional, and with increased public support for legalization. 

Not one panelist faltered in their agreement that cannabis will be changed for the better. They predicted two major changes: 

The first will be an elimination of companies that were struggling to stay afloat before the quarantine. To say the least, COVID-19 has tested the strength of all companies. Only those who were growing organically, based on opening new locations and facilities with demand inherent in those areas, and those who were generating cash flow will survive and strive out of this pandemic. 

Initially, there was an uptick in sales at dispensaries. As social distancing orders remain intact for the foreseeable future many operators in the cannabis industry will stay open and viable through curbside pick up, online orders, and in-person visits by appointment. 

The second change will be the growth in the credibility of the industry by the general public. The one thing everyone in the industry can agree on is the desire to normalize and professionalize cannabis. All of this can aid in opening the eyes of politicians to how valuable and legitimate this industry is. 

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