A new industry report has found that budtender turnover rates are among the highest in the cannabis sector. The data is surprising, considering the presumed desirability of retail jobs at cannabis stores and dispensaries. But the problem with budtender turnover rates is real, and companies are seeking solutions to improve employee retention at the point of sale.
Cannabis Jobs Report Puts Budtender Turnover Rates Above 50 Percent
In the report, Headset examines the data its point-of-sale software collects during each transaction. The data spans 12 months of transactions in two legal adult-use cannabis markets, Washington and Colorado.
The report analyzes when an employee started showing sales, meaning when they were hired, and when they stopped showing sales—presumably when they’ve left the company. Headsite finds that turnover is exceedingly common, and often happens before new hires can even settle into their work. But there are also turnover spikes that tend to follow busy seasons, like summer.
There were also differences between Colorado and Washington in terms of turnover rate and spikes. In Washington, for example, companies retained 47 percent of employees, while Colorado companies only retained 38 percent.
Colorado also seems to have more long-term employee turnover. Just 15 percent of employees who made sales in one year stayed to make a sale the next year.
Still, there are gaps in the data which could account for Colorado’s higher budtender turnover rates. With the older program, Colorado’s adult-use market is larger than Washington’s. Washington also restricts the number of retail stores.
So it’s possible, Headset suggests, that Colorado budtenders are simply moving around more. And they might just be getting jobs with companies that don’t license Headset’s sales software.
Cannabis Staffing Agencies Grapple With High Budtender Turnover Rates
Rapid turnover, especially in retail, can be a drain on a company’s resources. Recruiting, hiring, and training new employees takes time and money.
For that reason, cannabis companies are eager to find candidates who are in it for the long haul. And cannabis staffing agencies, springing up across legal marijuana states, are working to meet that demand.
But the problem with budtender turnover isn’t fully understood. THC Staffing Group is an employment agency that works with cannabis companies in Massachusetts and California. Recruiters there think most employees just don’t know what they’re getting into.
“Some new employees find they’re not as committed as they thought,” said Danielle Schumacher, a recruiting partner with THC Staffing Group. “You see high turnover across the board depending on what the job is and what factors lead that employee to be disappointed.”
In short, new hires often have unrealistic expectations about working in the cannabis industry. And they don’t recognize the hard work involved or the need to perform a variety of tasks that may go beyond interacting with customers.
COVA Software is another solutions-provider for cannabis retailers. They suggest that investing more in budtenders and giving them opportunities to grow and advance with a young company can help increase retention.
PayScale echoes that idea. They point out that more employees in the cannabis sector are more optimistic about their company’s future than American workers in general. PayScale also lists a median salary for budtenders at $32,000 a year.