Making Cannabis Work Mean Something

Making the Cannabis Industry Work Meaningful

Cannabis industry employees value salary, benefits, and company leadership, but meaningful work drives job satisfaction more than ever. What the cannabis dispensary decision-maker may be missing, however, is an understanding of what energizes staffers: the ability to spend their time doing meaningful work.

Data show that while professionals want more money and better benefits and will leave jobs because of bad managers, the quest for meaningful work drives job satisfaction for workers outside of the cannabis industry too. C-level managers may be surprised at just how much their employees value meaningful work.

According to a 2017 survey of over 2,000 workers by BetterUp Labs, a San Francisco-based leadership development platform, 9 out of 10 career professionals told researchers that they would sacrifice 23 percent of their future earnings – an average of $21,000 a year – for “work that is always meaningful.

Bringing meaningful work to the table pays off for employers too and the findings from BetterUp Labs’ “Meaning and Purpose at Work” study include the following:

  • Career professionals who view their work as “very meaningful” put in an average of one extra hour per week.
  • Those employees take two (2) fewer days of paid leave annually.
  • Employees who say they find meaning at work also express higher levels of job satisfaction, which links directly to greater productivity. The study reports that employees who rate their jobs as meaningful will generate an additional $5,437 per worker per year.
  • Employees who say their jobs are “highly meaningful” are 69 percent less likely to quit in the next six (6) months and will stay with the company 7.4 months longer, on average, than staffers who don’t believe they’re in meaningful jobs.
  • Ensuring that managers and other more senior-level employees have meaningful work is especially important, as turnover costs associated with these positions are many times higher than for the average employee.

At large enterprise organizations, for every 10,000 managers who view their work as highly meaningful, a company saves $55 million in annual turnover costs. The unfortunate reality, however, is that too many people lack meaning at work. On average, according to the BetterUp Labs study, employees say their work “is about half as meaningful as it could be – and that’s a problem for companies.

Providing meaningful work in the cannabis industry requires investing in employees at both the individual and cultural levels. In the long run, both will pay dividends to a company’s bottom line in the form of talent retention and productivity.


Defining Meaningful Work

For the cannabis industry to provide employees with opportunities for meaningful work, they first must understand what that means to each employee. Meaningful work is work that makes a difference and impacts society. Having a job that allows you to make a difference in someone’s life is meaningful.

The concept of meaningful work is universal but how people find meaning in their jobs will vary. For example, a dispensary technician working in a cannabis dispensary may believe that their ability to sell a lifesaving medicine brings meaning to their work, while a public relations professional may believe that promoting the profile of the organization they work for is meaningful.

Each person is defining meaning in his or her way, but the meaning itself is the same. Structurally, meaningful work is the result of three (3) ingredient, those components are:

  1. Having control over work. Companies can foster a meaningful work experience by creating a culture in which everyone feels empowered to make an important contribution. As long as employees deliver results, let them define how they go about it. Cannabis business owners should speak with customers and take customer service calls. Managers could trade jobs with a front-line employee for a week. Everyone should take a turn at the reception desk for one day.
  2. Getting helpful feedback. Companies should avoid giving feedback in private and avoid employee-of-the-month-type awards. That saps motivation. When work is meaningful, cannabis industry employees do it for the intrinsic reward, not for a silly certificate. We’re adults, not pets. And managers can reward not just employees who achieved a goal, but also those who tried something new and didn’t succeed. That permits innovation without the pressure to always get it right.
  3. Knowing the work serves a higher purpose. Employees want to see the results of their contributions to the cannabis industry. They want to be in a position that makes sense difference in their lives as well as others, so they feel that they are doing their part to serve a higher purpose.



Bringing Meaningful Work into the Real World

Cannabis companies looking to initial meaningful work campaigns can take several steps to create a rewarding work experience for staffers:

  1. Provide a strong mix of benefits. While perks and benefits are great, cannabis companies need to blend them with a forward-thinking plan. Our team embraces personalized growth plans and challenging work, and a company has to show leadership in that regard. But perks stand out, too.
  2. Facilitate growth opportunities. Helping employees move forward with their education and careers is another important factor in providing meaningful work. Long-term employee happiness is created with growth opportunities. Offering a yearly education stipend isn’t enough many times.
  3. Recognize that professional development is important. Invest in each employee as an individual and understand that each career is different. Employees want to expand their skill sets and learn things that will make them successful in their careers.
  4. Encourage a healthy work/life balance. It’s difficult to separate work life from home life when you work remotely, so encourage our employees to unplug as much as needed by offering unlimited vacation days. Stepping away from their computer and relaxing allow employees to recharge, increases their productivity, and more importantly, makes for a happy employee.
  5. Invite employees to effect meaningful change. Meaningful work can also be a cannabis industry workplace platform that promotes building a better world, with employees proudly affecting change.
  6. Make meaningful work a year-round concept. Fostering a meaningful work culture starts with bringing people onto your team who believe in what the company stands for and in the products and services you provide to others. The impact your company has on the world shouldn’t simply be mentioned once at the annual holiday party. It should be discussed in different ways many times throughout the year.
  7. Nurture interests outside the workplace. While an organization should believe that its work is meaningful and build that belief into the employee experience, it’s also important to recognize that employees have other interests away from the company. There may be causes outside of the office that employees are passionate about. Recognize this, invest in your cannabis dispensary employees’ interests, and support them.
  8. Watch for burnout. Meaningful work in the cannabis industry can have a downside, too. Meaningful work is such a powerful motivator that it can drive people to work beyond reasonable capacity. When people feel that they’re part of something significant and are compelled to perform at their best, they may increase their level of effort to compensate for organizational deficiencies, such as understaffing, lack of resources, inefficiencies,s and the like.

Working beyond capacity is, however, unsustainable over the long run and is detrimental to employee health and well-being. It will impact employee burnout, stress, and turnover.


Combining ‘Work’ with ‘Mission’

The takeaway on meaningful work? It’s all about the idea that cannabis industry employees’ work is also their mission. You’ve got to treat your employees as people and support their interests. If you do that, you’ll create a meaningful work culture.

This will also build organizational loyalty, which will increase motivation. Employees will be excited to show up for work each day, and they’ll be invested in the organization.

Let us know what you think.