When candidates are deciding which companies to apply for and what position to accept, they often refer to the company culture as one of the deciding factors. Many of us in cannabis are in start-up mode and doing 100 things at once, with most employees wearing multiple hats and no defined HR team. Focusing on culture may seem like the last priority as it is not directly related to driving revenue; but having organizational culture can actually increase productivity and profits by creating more engaged employees, improving customer service, streamlining the hiring process and avoiding turnover. It also makes it easier to hire people and recruit top talent to your company. According to Harvard Business Review, “strategy and culture are among the primary levers at top leaders’ disposal in their never-ending quest to maintain organizational viability and effectiveness”. In our rapidly growing industry with workplaces changing and many people working remotely, company culture is more important than ever. If you are not sure what company culture consists of, these three areas are a good place to start: communication, defined company values, and respect.

Clear Communication

Communication is one of the most important aspects of running a successful company, and only works if it flows both ways. Employers need to communicate to employees what is expected of them, and employees need to be able to ask questions and present issues to management. An open-door policy allows that free flow of information. If employees are unable to communicate with management or their peers, this breakdown can result in decreased productivity, more mistakes, and employee frustration creating a lack of motivation. An employee that is encouraged to ask questions and contribute will be more confident and productive in the workplace.

Defined Mission and Values

Having clear company values ensures that everyone understands the goals of the company and can work towards those goals as a cohesive team. Your core values shape the company’s vision for the future.SHRM.org has emphasized that the heart of an organizations’ corporate culture is commonly shared values. None is right or wrong, but organizations need to decide which values they will emphasize. These common values include:

  • Outcome orientation. Emphasizing business strategy, achievements and results.
  • People orientation. Insisting on fairness, tolerance and respect for the individual.
  • Team orientation. Emphasizing and rewarding collaboration.
  • Attention to detail. Valuing precision and approaching situations and problems analytically.
  • Stability. Providing security and following a predictable course.
  • Innovation. Encouraging experimentation and risk-taking.
  • Aggressiveness. Stimulating a fiercely competitive spirit and high performance focused leadership style

Values shape an employee’s understanding of how top management wants them to respond to any situation. Employees believe that the expected response is the right one, and employees know that they will be rewarded for demonstrating the organization’s values. This is why it’s important for every business decision to be aligned with these values.

Mission or vision statements help direct the organizational strategy of your company. It identifies the primary market and what they find important, and the purpose and goals of operations. A defined Mission outlines the direction of the company, and the values provide the guidelines on how employees will function to get there.


When employees feel disrespected in the workplace, it causes added stress, conflicts, and problems. Respect and communication go hand in hand, in that you will find a communication breakdown if employees don’t feel respected. In a work environment that fosters respect for one another, you will find increases in productivity and teamwork, knowledge, and understanding. Respect starts at the top and trickles down company wide. It is important for those in leadership roles to treat every employee with respect regardless of position. A few ways to ensure that employees feel respected is to create an inclusive work environment, appreciate diverse opinions, and avoid engaging in gossip or complaining. Respectful communication results in high performance.

As we continue our Cultivating Culture series, we will be speaking with HR leaders of top companies in the cannabis space to share how they have created a great company culture. How have you started implementing a positive culture in your company?

 Valerie Crisp, Director of Strategic Accounts at High Bluff Group 


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