Even in a world upended by a deadly pandemic and harsh economic realities, cannabis companies proved people are the heart of their business.
No one will deny 2020 was challenging. A deadly pandemic led to stay-at-home orders and business closures, which boosted some industries and decimated others. Mass layoffs, eviction moratoriums, and supply-chain disruptions strained the economy, and social and political unrest fractured communities.
Most jurisdictions declared cannabis commerce “essential” early in the crisis, saving jobs and likely preventing the collapse of individual businesses and potentially entire segments of the industry. That doesn’t mean cannabis companies suffered no disruption. Population lockdowns and fear of infection forced employers to restructure traditional workplace policies and adapt to changing circumstances on the fly.
But according to mg Magazine’s survey of employment practices, businesses responded with alacrity and compassion. Every company on this year’s list has implemented work-from-home policies; many employers provided equipment, furniture, and/or stipends to help employees make the transition. Because coworkers seldom saw one another in the real world under the new paradigm, businesses found creative virtual ways to keep employees connected and maintain morale (including monthly or quarterly interactive “town hall” meetings). Both sides of the equation reported finding the measure liberating, so it’s become standard operating procedure, at least for some employees, at almost every company that appears on this year’s list.
Despite a global economic downturn in 2020, the cannabis industry flourished, resulting in a 50-percent increase in total annual revenue. Businesses leveraged this strong position by increasing investment in their workforce, which resulted in creating an additional 85,000 jobs.
Employers also added benefits while the rest of corporate America decreased or even suspended employee perks. Previously uncommon benefits that now are widespread include paid family and medical leave (offered by 66 percent of companies), parental leave (up to four months for birth mothers), retirement plans, and tuition reimbursement.
In response to pandemic-related economic upheaval and emotional distress, several companies launched employee assistance programs that provide legal, counseling, and financial aid to employees in need. Also pandemic-related: 57 percent of employers reported increasing or adding mental and physical health initiatives in the form of organized fitness programs, vaccine incentives, and access to teletherapy programs like Talkspace.
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Published: December 01, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News