Marijuana Business Magazine February 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | February 2019 78 to an employee’s personal growth, said Adam Cole, a learning and development specialist at Native Roots. The company uses Spoke, an online learning management system, to host cannabis content and education materi- als and resources for employees. Some courses are mandatory and others are designed to share additional informa- tion about cannabis and the industry, Cole said. He is also designing a full-day class- room course on emotional intelligence for Native Roots employees. That’s a skill that would benefit employees in their ca- reers in or outside the industry, he said. The skills he hopes to share would help employees navigate emotional conversa- tions—a negative performance review, for example—and respond rationally and productively, as opposed to defensively or in anger, he said. “Education is one of the most powerful tools we have in retention,” Cole said. WHY IT MATTERS TO BUDTENDERS Cameron McWilliams didn’t have budtending experience when he was hired more than two years ago at a Native Roots dispensary in Littleton, a suburb of Denver. But, he said, his onboarding, training and managers’ support made for a smooth transition to his new job. The onboarding program “was absolutely phenomenal,” he said. McWilliams’ training included beginner-level courses and more advanced training on terpenes and compliance. He said he still uses what he was taught at training during his day-to-day job. “They equipped us with talking points to work with a variety of customers and patients so we don’t just sound like a bunch of stoners trying to sell weed,” he said. McWilliams said employees are always encouraged to approach managers with questions about operations, compliance or new processes, which has created an open, collaborative environment. “I love the fact that we’re supported,” he said. “I don’t hesitate to talk to my managers or regional manager. Our cor- porate staff comes in several times a year, too, and they’re not intimidating to talk to. That’s a big thing; sometimes that’s intimidating, but it’s not in this company. I don’t feel any intimidation here.” Employees’ paid time off and medical, dental and vision benefits are a huge plus, too, he said. Health care “isn’t cheap ever, but with our full health coverage, I can go to the doctor or a dentist and not worry about emptying my bank account. That’s a huge benefit.” Paid time off also offers peace of mind, he said. Employees are encouraged to take time off if they need it, and they don’t have to worry about it hurting their income, McWilliams said. Have a Heart Headquarters Seattle Number of employees More than 400 Number of retail stores 11 across six states Markets Medical and Recreational Include budtenders in your marketing. “We make our budtenders the stars of our show,” Kunkel said. Budtenders are featured in Have a Heart’s photo shoots, and those photos are used in social media posts, print advertising in High Times and Dope magazines, on billboards and in in-store posters. “It gives them pride and a sense of ownership in what we do. It’s empowering, and it shows them they’re not just a cog in a machine.” Featuring budtenders in your online marketing often leads to them sharing your content. “If you have them (shar- ing that) organically, if they’re invested, you’re winning,” Kunkel said. Consider collective bargaining. Have a Heart signed a collective bargain- ing agreement last year with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 to provide its Washington employees and their family members access to union medical, dental, vision and short-term disability insurance. The agreement also emphasizes equal pay and fair treatment for employees, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or cultural background, and it offers the opportunity for annual pay increases. Kunkel said it’ll take time to gauge how collective bargaining affects reten- tion, but in the week after Have a Heart announced its union contract, he said he Ryan Kunkel Courtesy Photo How to Keep Top-Tier Budtenders