Cannabis Retailer Uses Tech to Boost Employee Morale

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Old-school companies hosted picnics and holiday parties to keep their employees happy, but tech-focused startups in the cannabis industry are taking a decidedly more sophisticated approach.

Using platforms like Indeed, OpenSimSim, and SourceOne, the California-based cannabis dispensary Urbn Leaf is easing the recruiting and onboarding process, making the transition smoother for new recruits and improving employee satisfaction overall. It’s a strategy the company hopes will spill over into customer satisfaction, and one that other technology firms, both inside and outside of the cannabis industry, are looking to adopt.

“Since we are a younger business and many of our employees are younger, technology is a really efficient way to facilitate the hiring process,” says Jenn Ahn, director of talent acquisition at Urbn Leaf.

As retail cannabis is legalized in more states around the country, entrepreneurs like Urbn Leaf founder Will Senn are facing brand new challenges, both in terms of regulations and employee management. In California alone, the cannabis market is expected to grow to $5.1 billion by 2019. That sort of explosive growth means entrepreneurs like Senn, and others, are navigating the issues that come along with running a larger firm.

In addition to running Indeed, OpenSimSim, and SourceOne, Ahn says Urbn Leaf uses IndicaOnline, Trellis, WhatsApp, SharePoint, Humanity, Slack and BaseCamp for communications throughout the organization. The company relies on OpenSimSim for scheduling and messaging needs.

“Our staff is always growing—we currently have around 250 employees—so technology is crucial in our communications between our team,” Ahn says.

Platforms like Indeed are helpful in reaching large audiences when it comes to recruiting talent. At Urbn Leaf, Ahn says she and her team continue using technology once the hiring process is through, to make employee management easier for both management and employees.

Urbn Leaf is hardly alone in its use of technology for talent acquisition and employee management. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Global Recruiting Trends report, a new era of talent intelligence is allowing employers to use data to influence future hiring. Roughly more than half of hiring managers in the survey said they are using data to increase retention (56%), evaluate skills (50%), and build better offers (50%). Sixty-seven percent of hiring managers also said that artificial intelligence (AI) is helping them save time when it comes to sourcing candidates, screening, and nurturing candidates.

Of course, the cannabis industry has its own sets of unique challenges. For one, Ahn says the cannabis culture attracts a young workforce. Some of the methods for talent acquisition that worked in previous generations just aren’t as successful when applied to millennial employees.

“The industry is still relatively young, so it definitely takes some time to figure out the most efficient and effective ways to recruit and manage employees,” Ahn says. “We’ve found that technology resonates with our employees because they are so used to using technology in every aspect of their lives.”

Messaging platforms like OpenSimSim and Humanity are useful for sending out important announcements, events, and policy changes. Ahn says it’s great to be able to reach all of Urbn Leaf’s staff in one convenient platform.

“With OpenSimSim’s scheduling functionality, employees can specify availability, put in time-off requests and switch schedules all through the app,” she says.

The tech-first approach to employee management seems to be paying off. Ahn says improvements in employee morale lead to higher customer satisfaction rates, which impacts the bottom line.

“We’ve found that if employees are satisfied with their schedules, they are more efficient and satisfied with their work, she says.

In addition, introducing new technology has increased efficiency, communication, and productivity among employees.

“Using apps can help get all your employees on the same page and keep them informed on any important information you need communicated,” Ahn says. “The cannabis industry is still a fairly young demographic, so find out what apps your employees are currently using or have used in the past and see what works best for your organization.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.