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Headset Report Analyzes Turnover Rates for Budtenders in the U.S. and Canada

Headset, a cannabis data company, released their latest report July 13th. It covers the budtender/employee turnover rate in dispensaries.

Headset calls cannabis budtenders the “heart and soul of the industry,” because they are essentially ambassadors for the plant and the industry. “Because of their extreme importance, budtender hiring, onboarding, and management is one of the most crucial tasks in any cannabis retail operation,” Headset writes in its introduction. “One of the great challenges of managing budtenders, or staff in any business, is employee turnover. Turnover is often unavoidable and always costly, so it’s essential to optimize the employee hiring and managing process wherever possible. In this report, we explore budtender turnover in the US and Canada to get an understanding of what is and isn’t normal when it comes to budtender turnover.”

This report analyses information from June 2021 to May 2022. It includes searches in Arizona, California and Colorado as well as British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and British Columbia.

Both in the U.S. as well Canada, there is almost no difference between the ratio of senior and new employees. There are 40.6% employees in the U.S. who were hired over 12 months ago. Only 59.4% of these workers can be considered to be new hires. Canada’s split of 12 month-old employees and new hires are 40.1% and 59%, respectively.

These percentages start to vary when you look at the percentage of workers who are still employed in cannabis dispensaries after a year and the percentage who left before that 12-month mark. After one year in the United States, only 45.4% of workers stayed, but 56% left. Canada has 43.6% who stay, and 56.4% who quit.

Data from Canada and the U.S. shows that only 24% of workers left, while 16% stayed at work in Canada. The percentage in relation to new hires choosing to stay or leave is much higher—29.3% and 30.1% in the U.S. 27.3% and 32.5% in Canada.

Many factors can lead to budtenders leaving their job. In most cases, the markets that were used for analysis have similar data. “Retailers in Illinois, for example, seem to be better than average at retaining more experienced staff members for more than one year with 55% of employees hired more than one year ago,” the report states. “Conversely, retailers in Colorado and Oregon tend to have far lower retention, both with more than a third of budtenders starting and ending their employment in the past 12 months. In Canada, Alberta is a bit of an enigma with retailers tending to have slightly better retention among new employees but having lost a larger amount of more tenured employees than in other Canadian provinces.”

The report also shares that 23% of new hires in the U.S. and 24% in Canada leave before the first 30 days of their employment, which is likely attributed to an “efficient and effect new hire onboarding process.”

However, people who are good at selling will be more inclined to stay in the field. “The better performing the budtender is, the more likely they are to continue working,” Headset concludes. “This could be simply because it feels good to do well at a job and so it’s natural to want to continue. However, budtending is still a tip-driven position in many markets and being a top performer could also mean an employee might be bringing home more total income than his or her coworkers.”