It happens to a lot of cannabis industry employees: After working in the dispensary workforce – after they’ve landed the job they dreamed of, achieved what they wanted, and reached a comfortable salary – suddenly it seems there’s nothing left to strive for.

It’s called a career crisis and it’s a key reason why dispensary employees become disengaged. A career crisis can happen to anyone, so it can hit even those who – from an objective perspective – have fulfilling jobs.

Suddenly, the employee is no longer challenged at work and is unable to identify a stepping stone to some activity that will keep him engaged in his current position. This is when the employee becomes bored, and unmotivated and may start looking elsewhere for opportunities in the cannabis industry that will satisfy their need to feel valued and worthwhile.


The U-Shaped Cannabis Industry ‘Satisfaction’ Curve

The career crisis typically happens when employees are in their late 40s to early 50s and there’s a biological reason for this dissatisfaction. Job satisfaction tends to follow a U-shaped curve, with young cannabis industry workers tending to be overly optimistic about the jobs they’ll get and the trajectories their careers will take.

As we age, things often don’t turn out as nicely as we planned, and we may not climb up the career ladder as quickly as we wished. Or we do, only to find that prestige and a high income are not as satisfying as we expected them to be. At the same time, high expectations about the future adjust downwards.

Midlife essentially becomes a time of double misery, made up of disappointments and evaporating aspirations. The good news is that at the bottom of the U-curve – when workers are in their mid-50s or so – people tend to make peace with how their life is playing out.

At the same time, the aging brain learns to feel less regret about missed chances, brain studies show so satisfaction starts to rise, climbing out of the bottom of the U-curve.

Focusing on the Cannabis Industry’s Future

Often cannabis industry workers have a career crisis because they don’t have clarity about what they want for the next phase of their career. They have achieved success ­in the cannabis industry and done everything they dreamed of coming out of university ­but are at a loss as to what they want to do next.

A dispensary manager can help, by discussing with the employee to help him or her focus on the future. Without clarity and direction, smart cannabis professionals often stop learning and growing so their career plateaus, and boredom sets in.

Not only does it leave them feeling confused about what’s next, but it also makes it very difficult for their boss or mentor to support them to take the next step. Many employees “bottom out” because the companies they work for have failed to develop a growth plan that keeps up with the employee’s advancement.


Breaking Out of the Dispensary Slump

What does a dispensary manager do if there aren’t any clear-cut advancement opportunities or new challenges for the mid-career employee? It’s a phenomenon that happens more often than one might think.

For most employees, the opportunities to move up in their organization have become more limited over the last few years. The average employee is staying at the same level for almost 50 percent longer than years ago.

Still, the creative dispensary manager can almost always find ways to accommodate the mid-career cannabis worker. Most Human Resources development budgets focus on the onboarding and training of new cannabis industry recruits because it costs a lot of time and money to replace dispensary employees, so cannabis businesses would be wise in finding missions for employees whose advancement has stalled.

For cannabis companies and HR departments, this means:

  • Assigning mid-career employees to cross-functional internal teams to work on projects and to learn about areas of the company with which they may not be familiar.
  • Creating a succession plan that allows for more lateral moves within the organization.
  • Encouraging the worker to develop new skills that can benefit the worker and the company, such as public speaking, blogging, or networking.
  • Encouraging the worker’s role as a mentor or senior advisor.

In addition to mentoring younger cannabis industry workers, mid-career employees can also seek to be mentored by more-senior people at a dispensary. Often, these senior people have weathered their mid-career crises and can offer support and advice.

Those at the end of their careers may have gone through this midlife dissatisfaction and learned to deal with this disappointment. It’s important to normalize these kinds of feelings, and maybe senior dispensary workers can relay to their colleagues that this is normal and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Let us know what you think.