Employers: Take a breath and think

Despite the immense challenges thrust upon all businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, the cannabis industry has experienced positive, even unprecedented, growth. However, the stresses of an uncertain future and running a business with proper COVID health protocols, coupled with rising sales volume, has left many people with considerably less time to focus on strategy — and a bit exhausted.

The pandemic has had a profound impact on the people who make up your organization. Strategic human resource planning is a vital component to successfully navigating this business evolution. We are all searching for solutions to protect, stabilize and grow our businesses. But how do you define solutions when your time and energy have been dramatically stretched? A helpful first step is to identify the HR challenges or opportunities that require problem-solving.

To support leaders in identifying HR solutions, ask yourself a few of these questions to flush out potential areas that will require change. Then you can begin formulating solutions to address these challenges.


Workforce development

– Have you identified specific training or development investments to allow key employees to grow?

– Are your employees cross-trained if a key individual leaves the team?

– Does each position have a career progression plan? Have you openly discussed it with the individual?

– Do you have silos between departments requiring increased collaboration?



– What are the current bottlenecks or challenges to your business, and what type of professional would you hire to solve these problems?

– Is your ongoing hiring process compliant with applicable employment law and producing the desired and necessary results for your organization?

– Are your HR-related marketing tools and company branding message aligned with the current strategic plan to attract the proper level of talent to drive these organizational directives?

– Do you have a positive company brand image on social media and sites such as Glass Door to help attract top talent?


Compensation and benefits

– Have you updated or benchmarked your benefits and compensation packages lately? If yes, how frequently do you do so?

– Do you include perks like profit sharing, continuing education or health initiatives to better invest in your employees?

– What unique benefits do you offer that are attractive to potential new hires or that increase retention?

– Is your compensation in line with your geographic region, cost of living and other industries to attract top talent?


Systems and software

– Do you have an organized electronic system for classifying and holding all your employees’ documents?

– Do you have an up-to-date chain of command to report HR issues?

– Do you have the appropriate technology and tools to maximize efficiency and effectiveness? Do these systems seamlessly integrate? Are your HR employees adequately trained on them?


Employee relations

– Are your employees truly engaged in the business or simply “punching the clock”?

– What is your retention rate or turnover rate?

– What type of leader would your employees say that you are?

– Has an appropriate investigatory process been put in place? Are your HR professionals trained to objectively implement such a process to resolve employee relations issues regardless of the severity or nature of the issue?


Human resource compliance

– If the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission audited your HR policies and practices, would you pass without a fine?

– Have current policies been recently reviewed and updated to conform to recent federal, state and local legislation, court cases and executive orders — particularly in light of revised Family Medical Leave Act, Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act regulations?

– Are internal and external HR audits conducted regularly to ensure compliance with all federal, state and local employment laws?


Succession and exit planning

– When was the last time you, as owner or leader of a division, took time away from your business?

– Are you able to take time away knowing you have a team to keep running the business profitably and efficiently?

– Do you know what you will do when you retire?

– Have you mapped internal succession paths, including your own, so you know where to recruit externally and where to develop internally?



– Would your organization’s effectiveness benefit from someone with a different background, mindset, viewpoint or set of values?

– Have you hired individuals from various backgrounds and educations?

– Have you properly followed Equal Employment Opportunity laws?

– Are you tracking appropriate diversity data regardless of whether you must file an EEO-1 or related annual report?


Operations and production

– Are you struggling to achieve complete buy-in to management principles or health and safety protocols?

– Do you have employee retention or engagement problems with your production team?

– Are current performance metrics or key performance indicators aligned with job expectations, job descriptions and organizational outcomes?


Sales and marketing

– Do you hire sales professionals based solely on having knowledge of your product and customers, or have you taken time to identify and assess for successful sales or marketing behaviors?

– Have you worked with your sales, marketing and production teams to understand and increase collaboration with one another relative to production capacity and sales growth?

– Are your customer-facing professionals a positive reflection of your company?


New products and markets

– Do you have new products in the pipeline that will require hiring professionals with a unique skill set or knowledge?

– Have you identified new markets to enter that will require hiring professionals with targeted industry knowledge?


Finance and accounting

– Is ROI data calculated and retained for HR-related projects and initiatives?

– When was the last time you had a valuation of your business or division compared to others?

– Is your HR department partnering with finance and accounting to develop ROI, payback period, net present value, present value and future value models as appropriate for HR-related projects and initiatives?


Todd Downing (tdowning@bhcagroup.com) is a managing partner for BEST Human Capital Advisory Group and leads the company’s horticulture and cannabis industry executive search and advisory services. He has more than 30 years of experience in the industry and a passion providing support to its continued professional growth.

Ben Molenda (bmolenda@bhcagroup.com) is a BEST Human Capital Advisor with a specialization in retained recruiting and succession/exit planning.


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