Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which offers cannabis business leaders the opportunity to support their employees’ work-life balance. Making mental health a priority ensures a long-lasting, productive relationship between cannabis employers and employees.
The timing couldn’t be better. More employees are moving to the cannabis industry during the Great Resignation in a bid for greater autonomy. Of the nearly 44 percent of U.S. workers seeking a career change, almost 20 percent said they’d take a new job with equal pay, suggesting many are in search of better work-life balance, health benefits, and dignity over more money. Particularly in a post-COVID world, having paid time off available for health is a must-have for many employees.
Employees are increasingly seeking balance in the current jobs market. You’ll want to make yourself a cannabis employer that people want to work for by considering these practices.
Why is mental health so important?
Safety: When employees are struggling with their mental health, it can lead to decreased productivity, accidents, or even violence in the workplace. By providing support for your employees’ mental health, you can help keep them safe and productive.
Compliance: A mentally healthy workforce is more likely to comply with workplace policies and procedures. They will also be less likely to take risks that could jeopardize a cannabis company’s hard-fought license or reputation.
Retention: When employees are championed by their employers they are less likely to leave their job prematurely. This can save businesses time and money spent on recruiting and training new employees, particularly given the niche training and certifications of many cannabis workers.
Quality: Employees who feel supported and understood are more likely to take pride in their work and pay close attention to detail when it comes to product quality control.
Here, then, is a brief guide to ways that cannabis leaders can support the mental health of their employees.
1. Make time off mandatory, seasonal, if possible
If you’re in a business that sees seasonal swings, use downtime as an opportunity to recharge and reassess. Reviewing and updating standard operating procedures (SOPs), ongoing visionary and strategic business planning, and other big-picture items that require time and space are ideal tasks for seasonal lulls. It’s also the time to allow employees the time and space to recharge. Consider implementing shortened workdays or workweeks during slower times as a seasonal perk of employment.
If you have required time out of the office you can still set parameters, such as defining peak seasons when time off is less reasonable and determining the boundaries for time off requests. Having a robust time-off policy increases productivity and happiness for both employees and the companies they help run.
2. Regularly and objectively evaluate your cannabusiness culture
It’s imperative to review and reflect on your company’s culture on a consistent basis. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report found that only 33 percent of American workers are engaged at work. It’s essential to focus on employee engagement to create a successful and productive workplace. This includes looking at how engaged employees are, how productive they are, and whether or not the work culture is considered healthy. If we find areas in which our culture could use some improvement, we need to be open to feedback and willing to make changes.
The cannabis industry is attracting people who are looking for something different in their work experience. We need to focus on creating an inclusive and engaging culture if we want to meet the needs of top talent. This includes employing consultants or non-profit organizations (NPOs) that focus on workplace culture, being receptive to feedback about your company’s unhealthy aspects, and making changes when necessary.
Cannabis business owners have a unique opportunity to help their employees who struggle with mental health issues. Here are some suggestions for policies that make it easy for employees to seek treatment:
As a company policy, allow paid sick hours to be used for mental well-being time, so it’s not a financial burden to take time to recharge and heal. This also allows you to help part-time employees who otherwise don’t usually benefit from PTO policies.
Provide health insurance with mental health treatment coverage if possible. In addition, consider interim steps such as matching contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA).
Make accommodations for medical and therapeutic appointments within the work schedule.
3. Embrace a happy, healthy workforce
By prioritizing work-life balance and well-being, you can create a positive environment for your employees and thereby, encourage productivity and creativity. Don’t take just my word for it — ask fellow entrepreneurs with excellent employee retention how they’ve crafted policies that build long-term partnerships.
Finally, remember the foundation of the industry was built on culture; one that embraced creativity, social engagement, and mental health. Keep that healthy and joyful mindset within your workforce by encouraging staff feedback and well-deserved mental wellness time to reinvigorate your top talent.