High Buff Group Opinion Piece: Hiring Trends in the Cannabis Space during COVID-19

There’s a lot of uncertainty in many industries due to COVID-19. As you’ve probably read, there have been many layoffs and unemployment claims over the past few weeks (roughly 3.3M last week) and the number keeps growing. However, cannabis is an industry that the COVID19 cannot extinguish. The industry is thriving during this time of uncertainty. Sales per state have roughly increased 20% and it appears many quarantined individuals are turning to cannabis to ease their minds and stress levels. It appears the industry has taken a positive turn since the “vaping crisis” and as each day passes, it seems like more of a distant memory. So, what does the future of cannabis hiring look like in 2020? Our business partners have a combined 50+ years of experience in staffing and would love to offer our opinion on what’s to come, specifically in the cannabis space. We offer our insight on a few trending questions.

Will compensation rates change due to COVID-19? Are companies still hiring?  

Recently, we wrote a blog about compensation in the cannabis space and highlighted salary trends for various departments, including: Accounting and Finance, Lab, Sales and Marketing, and upper management roles. Roughly speaking, compensation rates in the cannabis industry tend to be 10-25% less than in other, traditional industries such as Pharmaceuticals or Biotechnology. However, with salaries being significantly lower than in other traditional industries, we’ve seen that many professionals are willing to make the sacrifice in order to begin their new and exciting careers in the world of cannabis. Since COVID-19, the cannabis industry has been deemed an “essential business” and we’ve seen sales to continue to increase at a rapid rate. Due to the “essential status” of the cannabis industry, many of our clients are continuing business as usual and have many urgent requests to fill vacant positions. We haven’t seen any companies or clients change their compensation rates due to COVID-19.

What positions are companies hiring for during COVID19? What are the main challenges with hiring during COVID-19?

We currently work with many cannabis companies in the Los Angeles and Northern California areas and have seen a large increase in lab and compliance-related positions. Hiring doesn’t seem to be slowing down; however, the main two challenges seem to be the interviewing process and defining a specific start date. Due to COVID-19, it’s especially challenging to set up onsite interviews, however Skype, Zoom and other online platforms are playing a large role in helping to determine qualified talent. Once a candidate is identified, the second challenge (specifically within sales and other client-facing roles) is defining a specific start date. In today’s uncertain climate, client-facing roles have been mostly put on the backburner until business is back to usual. Non-client facing roles, such as chemists, lab techs, lab supervisors, quality managers, and compliance professionals seem to be able to start in their new roles quickly.

Are cannabis companies letting their employees work from home?

For many of the client-facing roles, employees are working from home. However, many labs in California are keeping their in-house operations moving and on track. Strategies such as staggering shifts and ensuring that no more than 6 employees are working in close proximities of one another is essential.



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