As the owner of a business in the cannabis industry, you have to wear multiple hats. One of the hardest responsibilities to get used to is your HR role. Chances are that you — like most small cannabis companies — can’t afford to hire experienced HR professionals.

Wanting the best for your company and employees, you research the current best HR practices. While these are good intentions, it leaves holes in your knowledge. As a young and growing market, the cannabis industry poses unique challenges. If you aren’t aware of these nuances, the work environment will suffer.

By knowing where there are blind spots in HR and how they are specific to the cannabis industry, you can ensure your work environment is top notch and compliant with all regulations. Here are four topics to focus on:

1. Employee handbooks

For many cannabis companies, an employee handbook is an afterthought. Business owners assume it’s more important to focus on regulations and finding great employees than creating a set of workplace guidelines. Unfortunately, without an employee handbook, other problems arise.

Take the simple act of timekeeping. It’s important for employers to set a standard of when employees show up to work, how they log their breaks, and what happens if they are late. Without these established rules, it’s easy for employees to take advantage of the time clock.

As a result, you end up paying employees for more hours than they actually work. Additionally, employees who are consistently late go unpunished and other employees have to cover for them.

There are many other problems that can be avoided, simply by having an established handbook. A great handbook gets everyone on the same page about topics like:

  • Employee benefits
  • Conflict resolution
  • Performance expectations
  • Time off guidelines
  • Company mission, values, and vision
  • Professional development opportunities

If this seems overwhelming, remember that Wurk can help you develop a handbook that meets your organizational needs.

2. Onboarding

Traditionally, the onboarding process consisted of new hires filling out employment forms and receiving minimal training. But this left many employees feeling like they’d been thrown into the deep end with life ring in sight. Without the right support, it doesn’t take long for new hires to give up and quit.

In fact, a 2018 survey found that almost 30 percent of employees left their new job within the first 90 days. For a small business in the cannabis industry, such high turnover can be devastating. All the time and energy you spent on a new hire are wasted. Not to mention, you need to once again start the costly hiring process. Avoid these issues by improving your onboarding.

One of the best strategies is automating simple tasks. For example, Wurk creates an easy-to-follow checklist that shows employees and their managers how they are progressing through tasks like completing the necessary forms and meeting with various department heads.

This gives managers more time to focus on making the new hire feel at home and valued by the team. Instead of tracking and filing forms, managers can sit down with their new hire, introduce them to co-workers, provide hands-on training, and create a solid foundation for long-term employment.

3. ACA compliance

The Affordable Care Act provides healthcare services to many employees. But as an employer unfamiliar with legal or medical terms, it can be difficult to understand the law. And if you make a mistake, the consequences can be severe.

For instance, many small cannabis businesses assume if they have less than 50 employees the ACA doesn’t apply to them. In reality, it’s 50 full-time equivalent employees. This means the number of hours part-time employees work also influence what benefits you need to offer employees.

One way to avoid confusion is to look for HR technology platforms that have ACA compliance built in. For example, Wurk’s platform is a great payroll option for companies in the cannabis industry. It also ensures ACA compliance, taking two aspects of HR off your plate.

4. Employee engagement

Employers often think if they offer fair pay and treat employees well, that’s enough to keep people satisfied. However, there’s another important factor for employee happiness and retention: engagement.

Employee engagement is more than satisfaction. It’s about employees feeling a connection with their organization, team, and role. They need to feel like their job matters and contributes to the company’s success.

In the cannabis industry, the nature of many jobs poses an employee engagement problem. Hourly positions are often repetitive, leaving employees feeling bored and unfulfilled. As your company’s HR department, it’s up to you to help employees see the meaning in the role.

For example, a budtender at a medical dispensary might feel their job is just manning the register. But they are also the face of your business. They interact with customers, providing these employees with a unique opportunity to better understand your customers. Encourage these employees to talk to customers and then share common themes or ideas with leadership to help define customer relationship management. This will help them see how they are positively impacting people’s lives and making a difference in the organization.