Roughly defined as people born between 1981 and 1996, the millennial generation is now the largest age group in American history, and amounts to 35% of today’s workforce.

As cannabis businesses continue to adopt common workforce management practices, from defining company values to enforcing standard operating procedures, understanding millennial employees becomes a key differentiator in effective growth. This generation is challenging the way employers recruit and retain talent as well as how they communicate, engage and quite simply, work with people.

Critics of millennials say they are the most over-gratified generation, resulting in an unjustifiable sense of entitlement. A heavy reliance on technology and habit of updating every activity on social media leads older generations to feel generally disappointed in what they see as ​lack of self-sufficiency and hard work.

Despite strong opinions, this generation is rapidly dominating the workforce, especially in the cannabis industry. And, they bring innovative suggestions, creative insights and a wealth of knowledge in technology and medicine. From budtender to director level positions, marijuana millennials are seizing the opportunity to be part of a nascent industry while learning the intricacies of startup world.

The objective for cannabis operators is recognizing how to work with millennials. Understanding their motivations, being flexible and thinking of ways to leverage their high-speed energy are ways to attract and keep this generation.

Attract top millennial cannabis talent

76% of millennials surveyed prefer a career they are passionate about over another that is paying more. This generation wants to know that they are contributing to something that carries an impact. From giving back to the community, to advocating for social justice, to providing legal medicine to those in need, millennials want to make a difference.

Quickly communicate your big picture goals and internal values to job candidates on your website. Show how your company rallies together for volunteer events or donates to local charity on social media. Interview current millennial employees about their experience at your company or why they entered the marijuana industry to give better insight into the culture you’ve created.

Support a workforce accustomed to rapid change

Millennials are constantly looking for opportunities to learn and grow, so it’s important to define expectations early and develop a cadence to measure performance. Support development of both salaried and hourly employees with progress assessments and annual, or quarterly reviews.

Avoid turnover by providing competitive pay rates, offering health benefits, and working around your staff’s schedule. Creating a digital schedule that accommodates your budtender or trimmer’s personal life will allow employees to work with you when they’re at their best.

Enable employees to further their career development through certified training programs with leaders like Trichome Institute or CannabisTrainers. Or schedule internal events with product vendors so staff can gain sales knowledge, network with fellow industry members, and enjoy the perks of giveaways.

Encourage their out-of-the-box mindset

Millennials are excited to work on projects that may seem risky or extraordinary, so it’s important to listen to new ideas, which may greatly benefit the organization. This generation can bring competitive, thought-provoking cannabis concepts inspired by current events, cultural trends, or even social movements.

A leading skillset of the millennial generation is their training in and familiarity with a variety of technology platforms to drive new customers, project manage, crunch numbers or develop custom systems. This proves useful in managing internal processes and comes in handy when launching brand campaigns or thought leadership opportunities with fast timelines.

The future of cannabis is bright. Engaging the millennial workforce is a vital step in ensuring your continued success.