Benefits and Compensation, HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting

Recruiting Talent in the Cannabis Industry Requires Lots of Green

The cannabis industry is becoming one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, which should come as no surprise given that 10 states—and Washington D.C.—have legalized recreational marijuana and 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.


Source: Yargin / iStock / Getty

As employers across the nation continue to struggle to attract top talent, they must now compete with an increasingly popular industry that shows no signs of slowing down. But when it comes to recruiting cannabis talent, what actually attracts these workers to this industry? Hint: it’s green.
We’re talking about money, get your head out of the clouds! According to the ForceBrands’ Talent Market Report 2019, while the cannabis industry is still young, it too has a talent shortage. Using data from a survey of over 500 full-time professionals across the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) industry, the ForceBrands report examines the CPG talent market in more detail.
The cannabis industry makes up 10% of the total participants in ForceBrands’ latest survey report and respondents include hiring decision makers, including leaders at the Director, President/VP/SVP, C-suite level. The report explores how cannabis is approaching talent acquisition and retention strategies with benefits and compensation packages, let’s take a look at some of the findings.


ForceBrands’ research found that the cannabis industry offers more time for leave than any other CPG sector—nearly double the amount offered by the wine and spirits industry. And just like most industries, the cannabis industry offers the staple benefits, such as dental and vision insurance.
However, the cannabis industry is already planning ahead by catering to the younger generations, who prefer a more flexible work/life balance. Employers in this industry will offer benefits such as commuting expense reimbursements and in-office stress relief initiatives, to attract and retain Millennial and Gen Z talent.

ForceBrands was able to determine the top 10 benefits employers in this industry are currently offering, as well as what cannabis employers will offer in the future, here’s a snapshot to help you compete with this industry and its benefits offerings:

Top 10 Benefits Currently Offered

Top 10 Benefits to be Introduced in 2020


Dental insurance 64% Commuting expense reimbursement



Vision insurance 62% In-office stress relief or fun (think “nap room”)



401k plan with company contribution 60% Free meals



Paid maternity leave 58% Summer hours/comp days 19%


Life insurance 57% Student loan debt payback assistance



Paid family leave 57% In vitro financial assistance



Partially-funded medical insurance plan or private health care 57% Bereavement leave



Flex-time or work-from-where-you-want 55% Paid family leave



Paid paternity leave 53% Pension plan



Bereavement leave 51% Full or partial subsidy for cell phone




You were warned about the “green.” In order to compete with this industry, employers must be ready to dole out a hefty compensation package. The cannabis industry offered the highest average raise percentage in 2018 at a staggering 14%, ForceBrands finds. Which is 4% more than the CPG cross-industry average and more than quadruple the national raise average.
Additionally, cannabis companies offer individual bonuses (as well as team performance bonuses), commission, stock options, and more. ForceBrands also found that just 2% of cannabis employers don’t offer any variable pay incentives.
Negotiating salaries are becoming increasingly popular, but not all employers have the capital to offer what candidates want. This is where incentives and benefits negotiations come into play. ForceBrands uncovered the top 10 alternative incentives cannabis employers are offering. These incentives include:

  1. Equity/stock options (34%)
  2. Flexible schedules, or modified work week schedules (30%)
  3. Free products or product discounts (26%)
  4. Company-funded car, or car allowance (25%)
  5. Work from anywhere flexibility (23%)
  6. Meal allowance (23%)
  7. Guaranteed bonus (21%)
  8. Sign-on bonus (21%)
  9. Cell phone reimbursement (19%)
  10. Better, or customized employee-defined job title (19%)

As you can see from the list above, some of these incentives are of little, to no cost to the employer. And if an employee-defined job title keeps that worker happy an engaged, it’s a definite win for the bottom line. Although, free or discounted marijuana products are questionable, but we’ll let the HR professionals handle that gray area.
While the cannabis industry is still in its infancy, it’s definitely going to great lengths to attract and retain talent. Using the information above, you too can improve your benefits and compensation packages to attract and retain talent in this ongoing war. To learn more about this report, or to view the full findings, click here.