The meteoric rise of the cannabis industry is well documented. A 2020 industry report from Leafly shows job growth in the cannabis industry rising by roughly 15% through the year to about 240,700 jobs in the U.S. alone, which follows 2019’s staggering increase of more the 40%.
However, an often-overlooked dynamic in this process of rapid-fire decision making is the question of who is being empowered to make these decisions. Finding leaders and staff who understand enough about a nascent industry to find success in it is difficult enough, let alone an industry with as many unknowns and pitfalls as cannabis that threaten to kneecap a business before it even gets off the ground.
It’s a lacuna all too familiar to cannabis companies, and one that cannabis staffing firm FlowerHire and its CEO David Belsky have attempted to fill. In a recent interview with Benzinga, Belsky explained his own realization around the dormant potential of building an industry ecosystem for cannabis, a realization that led to the creation of FlowerHire.
“I saw a tipping point where the cannabis industry had the potential to be the biggest job creator in the United States over an entire decade, an opportunity for an entire workforce to be recalibrated for a modern growth industry that couldn’t be outsourced,” said Belsky.
Now, with the Beta launch of its FlowerHire X application platform, FlowerHire and its partners throughout the cannabis industry are looking to add further definition to the human capital that is propelling the growth of a surging international industry.
Tech Drives Everything
Given the dearth of historical data or even precedent within the cannabis industry, FlowerHire has aimed to establish itself as both a resource and repository for qualitative insight into the cannabis business. This pursuit of information and the goal of putting it in the hands of those with the most need for it formed the basis of the technology that FlowerHire and FlowerHire X are built upon.
“As it relates to recruitment and hiring talent, the modern world is technology-driven,” said Belsky. “Technology enables people to research more about the plant and educate themselves about the types of jobs available in the cannabis industry. Technology drives innovation in the consumption of cannabis as companies seek to find a unique IP and give consumers choice in how they seek the benefits of the plant.”
In establishing and codifying these insights, FlowerHire has been able to connect cannabis businesses with unknown or overlooked talent all the way from executive boards to cultivators and salespeople. This, in turn, has helped to further define the industry, bringing people with the highest passion and greatest insights into the fold.
“That is why we created FlowerHire X, to help job seekers understand what type of job in cannabis is relevant for them and help companies hire the right type of folks in the right type of job to unlock the potential of their workforce and reduce turnover,” said Belsky.
Setting A Standard
By leveraging data-driven insights and first-hand knowledge of the industry, FlowerHire has already been successful in connecting cannabis companies with experts and artisans who are able to market their particular knowledge of the industry to those with the greatest need.
The core of this insight was understanding the industry dynamics that have begun to form in the short few years since legalization became a trend in North America.
“There has never been a blueprint for what makes an effective cultivation associate, or extraction technician, or retail team member in cannabis!” said Belsky. “There is no data commercially available to cannabis operators to inform proper hiring choices as it relates to work experience, salary, anything. There is also no information for a job seeker who sees cannabis as a viable career option to understand what type of job in cannabis is right for them.“
Helping craft these insights were clients and partners within the industry, companies that have established a leadership role in the field. Cannabis and hemp brand Jushi (OTC:JUSHF) is one such industry partner who recognized the unique challenges present in communicating a product’s use to a clientele who may be entirely unfamiliar with cannabis.
Nichole Upshaw, Jushi’s EVP of Human Resources, spoke to some of the hurdles they ran up against in building out their sales workforce.
“While retail and customer service experience serve individuals well in this industry, it is imperative that cannabis employees appreciate the responsibility attached to the products we are selling and the experience we are creating,” said Upshaw. “There are a lot of uncontrollable circumstances in this industry and you are not always able to plan ahead. We appreciate the efficient process FlowerHire follows and the peace of mind that comes with seeing candidates within a few days of opening a position.”
With today’s launch, FlowerHire X is looking to bring these industry insights and staffing conveniences to more businesses and entrepreneurs than ever before.
Just The Beginning
Despite the rapid pace of growth the cannabis industry has seen over the previous decade, there is still a lot of runway left for the cannabis industry to traverse before becoming a standardized consumer industry. Belsky forecasts the industry is still on pace to employ “hundreds of thousands of people over the next 5 years.”
However, he also cautions that there remains a lot of unknowns in the industry.
“The pace of the industry's evolution is the biggest challenge. There are very few norms now for how to run a successful cannabis company that will be relevant in two years. The plane has taken off and the landing gear is being built while it is in the air,” Belsky said.
However, it’s because of this uncertainty, both in the form of regulatory guidance and unclear norms within the industry itself, that FlowerHire was created. By giving cannabis firms data-driven insight into what success looks like while also putting them in contact with leaders or visionaries in the field, the cannabis industry can better and more quickly meet its future.