Cannabis At Work CEO Alison McMahon discusses the state of marijuana recruitment in Canada

The Canadian cannabis job market should stabilize later this year after companies restructure and adapt their operations to the newest market realities, according to a cannabis staffing agency in Toronto.

Alison McMahon, founder and CEO of Cannabis At Work in Edmonton, Alberta, estimates the industry currently is losing more jobs than it is gaining. Still, she believes “this is going to be a blip. Once these changes have been made, I believe we will see the job market stabilize.”

McMahon sees several trends emerging from the market correction, including:

  • Stabilizing salaries.
  • Compensation mechanisms tied to metrics.
  • A reduction in ad hoc bonuses.
  • More roles throughout the organization being filled with veterans of the consumer packaged goods industry.

“Companies that are hiring are definitely taking advantage of the talent in the market. However, given where the industry is at, many companies are being cautious with hiring and won’t have a need to hire the displaced employees,” she said.

Marijuana Business Magazine spoke with McMahon about the hiring and salary trends she expects to see at Canadian cannabis businesses in 2020 and beyond.

 

What compensation trends are you expecting to emerge in 2020?

I think we will see a holding trend on salaries. I don’t think we’re going to see a drastic reduction in salaries, because organizations still have to be competitive in the market to retain the talent they have—and the talent they’re still bringing onto the team. There is still hiring happening.

I don’t think we’ll see anything aggressive in terms of increases, but I don’t think we’re going to see hard decreases. Our data suggested that the salaries are already on-market. Offering salaries below market isn’t a long-term strategy. I think we’ll see a holding pattern on salaries.

 

Which roles are most in demand in the Canadian market?

There is definitely still hiring and growth in the industry. Quality assurance, sales and operations have been a focus in the first quarter of the year.

There’s definitely a trend and a call in the industry for an increased focus on execution. And with that comes a need for a different level of experienced management joining organizations. We’ll continue to see organizations—as part of this restructuring process—adding management individuals that have been in CPG, pharma, etc., brought into the industry to help with this next phase of operations and focus on revenue growth.

 

Are Canadian cannabis companies still trying to lure CPG executives?

In the past, we have seen cannabis companies hire one or two C-suite individuals out of CPG or pharma—hires they could do a press release about.

What I think we’re going to see in terms of CPG personnel in 2020 is filling out more levels of the organization with those types of people. These might not be the types of roles that are getting press releases, but I think we need to see that level of professionalism and maturity. We need to see that throughout these kinds of companies, not just at C-suite levels.

Importantly, they have experience in mature organizations with mature management structures and expectations around systems and processes. It’s more about bringing that expertise into the organization and at different levels.

 

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