Marijuana Business Magazine February 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | February 2019 80 received more employment applications than he did in any full calendar month in the past eight years. “I want (employees) to live their lives,” Kunkel said. “I don’t want work to be their lives. They should know they’ll be taken care of with health care and time off.” Hire the right managers. Managers are key to retaining budtenders. They should have excellent communication skills and express a genuine interest in their employees’ lives, Kunkel said. They should make stores “as much of a democracy as they can,” Kunkel said, and provide ways for employees to be heard. Managers should avoid micromanag- ing employees, Kunkel said. “Managers should never have to try to control people,” he said. “They’re there to allow people to do better at their jobs.” They should also be able to communi- cate your brand’s mission and emphasize culture. “Data shows that people in their 20s are looking for more than just a paycheck,” Kunkel said. “You have to give them a mission. They have to believe in what they’re doing.” WHY IT MATTERS TO BUDTENDERS Have a Heart’s union contract has been “life changing” for employees, said budtender Olivia Hager, who has worked at one of the company’s retail shops for more than three years. “We have the best pay rate that I’ve heard,” she said. The health-care benefits and annual raises that are guaranteed in the labor contract make it easier to have a work-life bal- ance, she noted. “It isn’t easy to work and have a good quality of life, but Have a Heart makes it doable,” she said. She noted the education courses on Moodle, an online learning manage- ment system, are a successful retention measure, too. “I’ve learned a lot from the Moodle courses,” Hager said. Managers keep Moodle updated with courses on new state laws and regulations, compli- ance, new products and new vendors. “There’s a lot of good information and a quiz at the end to test your knowledge,” Hager said. “If something didn’t click 100%, you get a better sense of what you might have missed.” Have a Heart also takes employees on farm tours to see where flower is grown and hosts training days with product vendors. “That helps us get clarification if we have questions about products,” she said. “That way, we're not sharing any misinformation.” Pay, benefits and training are important, Hager said, but it’s Have a Heart’s culture that keeps her there. The company partners with local charities to perform volunteer projects, and Have a Heart hosts quarterly parties for employees. Have a Heart’s shops have positive environments, she said, and managers do their best to make their teams feel like families. “As far as the culture, I have no reason to want to go anywhere else,” Hager said. “Our upper management likes to do things that are beneficial for everybody, and there’s so much room for growth going forward. It isn’t a job; it’s absolutely a career.” Tips for Onboarding and Training New Budtenders Haphazard training and onboarding can leave new budtenders with a poor impression of their cannabis retail employer. “Scheduled training and onboarding sessions get (new employees) off on the right foot,” said Tyler Stratford, a cannabis retail operations expert and director of strategic partnerships at Canna Advisors, a Colorado cannabis consulting firm. “If they meet with their manager and their direct line of supervisors right away and review their job description so they know what they’ll be doing and what’s expected of them, it introduces structure,” he said. Stratford shared a few ways retailers can successfully train and onboard their budtenders: • Support ongoing education: Green Flower Media, Cannabis Trainers and BDTNDR provide online training, certifications and resources for budtenders. Companies also can pay to have budtenders complete Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) training. • Train your budtenders on standard operating procedures. • Some states prohibit cannabis sales-based incentives, so consider other ways of compensating employees. Offer profit sharing, increase health care contributions or provide quarterly performance bonuses. • Cross-training is helpful, too; it allows new employees to explore other areas of operation and future growth opportunities. Above all, Stratford said, “Make sure they know they’re invested in and appreciated.” —Joey Peña Olivia Hager Courtesy Photo How to Keep Top-Tier Budtenders