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The 7 Best Tips For Onboarding New Employees In The Cannabis Industry

Two workers onboard a new cannabis employee as she takes notes on her laptop

Cannabis companies flourish when they can recruit and retain the right employees. Although setting your new employees up on a path to success is something that should be done, it doesn’t always happen in the young cannabis space. Creating a well-developed program for onboarding new employees in the cannabis industry is essential to your company’s sustained success.

Onboarding allows a new employee to get comfortable with the cannabis company and sets them up to grow within the position. And it’s not just about the first day, week, or month, as it’s an ongoing strategy. According to O.C. Tanner, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with an organization for three years if they experience exceptional onboarding. Not to mention, successful onboarding will save you money, as the average cost of replacing an employee is around $4,000, according to Glassdoor. So, our cannabis staffing agency decided to round up the best tips for onboarding new employees in the cannabis industry to allow you to build a reliable cannabiz staff for the long haul. 

Prepare For Day One

Day one of your onboarding program will be a reflection of your entire cannabis company. Many new hires aren’t going to be fully invested until they get a feel for the company and the position, so first impressions matter big time. No matter what type of cannabis industry jobs you’ve recently filled, all new hires should have a smooth and helpful onboarding experience. Be sure that your cannabis company prepares for day one of the new hire well in advance, so no one’s time is wasted. Set up the appropriate schedule for their first day, assign them an onboarding partner, and find a way to break the ice.

Day one will set the tone of the entire organization, so don’t take it lightly. Create a checklist for the new cannabis hire, and make sure the appropriate employees block time out of the day to interact with the new employee. Also, make sure the new hire’s desk, software, accessories, and office supplies are all laid out and ready to go. And, notify all your employees about when the new hire will start so they can introduce themselves. The simple things count. 

Cover The Essentials First

Although it may be tempting to get to the details of the role, you have to get the essentials out of the way first. Make a list of “housekeeping” items to address, including the location of the restrooms, break room etiquette, employee phone directory, where to find extra supplies, etc. Since most of the world is working remotely right now, address how they can acquire extra supplies, the best times to take breaks, the ideal ways to communicate, and communication platforms in common use. It would also help to review the basics of the communication platforms, such as Zoom and Slack.

Ask your current employees what they wish they had known on their first day, and you’ll form a comprehensive “first day” list. Also, don’t forget to ask the new cannabis hire if they have any questions about housekeeping. You might have missed something on your list, so it’s best to be thorough. Lastly, if there’s any further paperwork to fill out, getting it done at the beginning will make things easier for you. 

Use “Getting To Know You” Activities

Before diving into the role, getting to know your new hire is pivotal to success. When onboarding new employees in the cannabis industry, management may tend to overlook building relationships from the start. You have to plant your seed and nurture it right from the beginning. Although the cannabis industry is fast-paced, creating quality relationships still takes time–it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in.

Even remotely, you can make icebreakers fun. It can be anything from an employee trivia game to a simple Zoom happy hour. You can even allow them to choose to have icebreakers done in a group setting or one-on-one. Keep in mind that “getting to know you” activities should allow them to get comfortable working with the team. Avoid putting a spotlight on the new hire, and choose an icebreaker activity that involves everyone. 

Explain The Job & Create A Road Map

After you get to know the new hire, it’s time to dive a little deeper into the role. First, you want to know what the new talent understands about their position. Afterward, you can explain the role in more detail. Paint a picture of what a typical day looks like in the position. Remind them that cannabis industry jobs are unique, as they often require the ability to wear multiple hats. However, reassure them that they have the support of the team to push through any daunting obstacles. Noting what is expected of them is also important–be transparent but supportive.

It’s also a great idea to boost their confidence, linking their skills and experience to their overall weekly tasks. At the very least, ask them twice if they have any questions about the position. Laying out a road map for their role is also very beneficial. What are the short-term goals for their first month? You may connect this to a more comprehensive road map of 30, 60, and 90-day goals. Furthermore, you can link this to long-term 1-5 year goals down the road. It’s all about the evolution of the new hire and creating the right synergy for sustainable success. 

Define the Culture of Your Workplace

First of all, culture fit shouldn’t be a cover-up for bias. Ensure that you’re leveraging culture fit correctly. You can do so by objectifying the workplace culture, connecting it to particular skills, abilities, motivators, and values of candidates you’re considering. So, when you are onboarding new employees, your workplace culture is sure to welcome diversity, which is beneficial for the company and, most importantly, the goal of racial equality and social equity.

Present the company’s mission statement, as well as the values of the organization and the overall vibe of the team. This should all be familiar, as the workplace culture should be discussed on the job application and during the interviews. However, now is the time to expand on it. What does the company do to uphold its values? What does the company do to align with its mission statement? How does one define the identity of the business? When onboarding new employees in the cannabis industry, this portion is what helps solidify the talent’s perception of the company. It’s not enough to speak about your values and beliefs–show them how the company aligns with what they say. 

Guide Them to Early Success 

Throwing the new hire into the deep water right from the start is more often than not a bad idea. Yes, you want to test their skills, but you also want to make sure they get into a groove first before throwing any daunting challenges at them. According to Sapling, a negative onboarding experience results in new hires being two times more likely to look for other job opportunities. So, you want to start with easier tasks, allowing them time to grow.

Help the new cannabis hire build their confidence and find their rhythm within the company by ensuring their first assignments lead to early success. Also, they can establish their credibility with these easy wins early on. Keep the new hire focused on essential work and show them how to score wins consistently in ways that align with the company’s mission and values. By starting them off with simpler tasks, you’ll have time to discuss how the position is pivotal to the company’s success and preview what’s to come. 

Pair With A Mentor

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert (or somewhere in between), the first day on a new job is somewhat awkward. One way to help the new cannabis hire overcome the oddities is by pairing them with a mentor. The proper mentor can normalize the working environment and show them “the ropes.” Choose a mentor that has incredible rapport-building skills and knows the company well. The right pairing will help in the retention of the employee, as well as contribute to a positive first impression. Also, the ideal mentor will allow the new cannabis hire to find their comfort zone faster. And it’s not just the new hire that will benefit from the pairing. The mentor will feel more involved and valuable to the cannabis company. Based on After Hire’s data, a whopping 58% of new employees prefer having a mentor. 

More Tips For Managing Your Cannabis Team

Being a cannabis executive or leader in the industry is quite the challenge. One thing is for sure: successful leaders are lifelong learners who are always willing to evolve. To help you continue to refine your leadership skills, here are two more blogs to guide you in this never-ending journey toward perfection:

A Guide To Managing Remote Work Employees

6 Tips For Choosing The Best Cannabis Consultant

 Also, if you’re in need of a cannabis staffing agency, we can connect you with the best cannabis executives, direct hires, and temp employees based on your company goals. Our cannabis industry recruiters are here to help you with all of your staffing needs from consulting to cannabis executive recruitment. Feel free to reach out at

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2022 Tri-State Cannabis Salary Guide

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