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Budtender turnover Is a Problem in the Cannabis Industry. Here's How to Fix it.

What's the root cause?

By
This story originally appeared on Cannabis.net

The cannabis market has grown considerably from what it used to be in times past. More players have been introduced with everyone having special roles that they play to see the business goal achieved. Budtenders are one of the primary focal points that customers interact with when they go into the cannabis dispensary. They educate consumers on available products, the efficacy of different cannabis strains, expected effects, and how to get the best results.

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This has made them quite influential in helping marijuana brands to get their message across to consumers alongside other forms of marketing as well.

Just like it is done in the pharmaceutical industry, different cannabis brands are known to equip their sales rep to educate budtenders about their products. This has sizeable economic implications yet it tends to get the job done with considerable results. However, a growing trend of increasing budtenders turnover in the cannabis industry is severely affecting the efficiency of such ventures.

Read on as we look into the major factors prompting this issue and the several ways that the industry can improve on it.

RELATED: 5 Questions Budtenders Get Asked the Most — Plus Some Answers

How bad is the problem?

Headset is a data analytics company based in Seattle and it recently released a report on budtenders working in both the U.S and Canada within 12 months. The results of the report showed that 55 percent of those under that study left where they are working within that time frame. This shows the extent of the turnover problem thereby affecting the solidity of such an important factor in the market structure.

Many have been quick to absolve the cannabis industry of this issue that is plaguing many sectors and industries. They did this with the belief that the cannabis industry isn't like most traditional businesses and so it should be immune from such problems. Many also translated the burgeoning sales of the industry to mean that all active players will be comfortable with their roles. However, this has not turned out to be true as the effect is even worse than many could have predicted.

RELATED: Many Cannabis Employees Are Fleeing Their Jobs. Here's How to Keep Them Around.

What factors are prompting this trend?

Marc Rodriguez is the president of Greenleaf Business Solutions, a brand that gives payroll services to marijuana businesses. He shared some of his views on the factors causing this trend while also giving possible pointers that can help to solve them in an interview with MJBizDaily. We will be drawing inferences and points from some of his opinions as it is obvious that he is an authority on the subject matter.

The first factor Rodriguez identified as an issue is the illegitimacy of the business. One might be quick to state that the cannabis industry is now legal either medically or recreationally in a number of states in the U.S. Nonetheless, this doesn't change the fact that it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the FDA which makes it illegal by the federal government. This means some aspects of the business won't be handled as other businesses and this trickles down to things such as employee experience.

Good pay and additional benefits coupled with proper motivation by the leadership of the venture are factors that keep employees. While budtenders might be able to boast of good pay considering, good benefits and proper leadership by their bosses might be lacking to an extent. Many employees are paid in cash by their employers because they want to avoid incurring additional costs of using the services of financial firms. Likewise, most do not have modern benefits that workers are accustomed to in other businesses such as online stubs and 401(k) plans. This tends to hurt the health of such businesses a such employees are bound to leave at the first chance.

The lack of proper motivation by the leadership of the business is also a major factor that should not be underemphasized. Budtenders are official players and stakeholders in the progress of a cannabis dispensary and they should be treated as such. When a budtender works for a boss who just believes they should come, do their job, receive their pay and that's all, then it is only a matter of time before they leave. Employees want to be regarded as important and valuable, when they are not regarded as such, a high turnover ensues.

Some business owners are usually not bothered by the high turnover of employees. Unfortunately, in a cannabis dispensary where much is done in equipping the knowledge base of the budtender and his rapport with customers, it is detrimental. This is because the loss of such human resources means the venture of educating and rebuilding rapport with customers will be done on another budtender who might leave as well.

When you couple this with the additional hiring costs the firm will need to incur repeatedly, you can see that a big problem is in the firm's hands.

How can it be improved upon?

It must first be stated that there is little most cannabis business owners can do about the illegitimate nature of the business before the federal government. While there is hope that legislation will favour the industry soon from the federal government, we can only hope for now.

Another factor that has kept business owners in a bit of a pickle is how expensive it is to get services for the benefits other business offer employees. Rodriguez stated that his firm had attended to nothing short of an extra $60,000 in payroll and benefits services for cannabis businesses within a year. These are large sums that many businesses will readily shy away from taking on but something must be done.

One of the things that must be done is that cannabis businesses must be intentional about employee retention. This can be achieved by adding career incentives and benefits that will prompt employees to stay long-term. This will improve job satisfaction and reduce turnover. It is a common practice used by other industries.

Another step that can be taken is to create a structure of growth within the business which employees can aim for and seek to gain promotion for. This can help to settle the recurring issue of budtenders leaving cannabis businesses and improve the longevity and health of such businesses