In July of this year, Headcount released a report that looked in depth at the turnover rate of cannabis retail associates, otherwise known as “budtenders”. It was found that 55% of budtenders across the United States and Canada who worked at any point over the previous 12 months had left their place of employment by the end of the time period. In both countries nearly a quarter of all budtenders hired in 2021-2022 did not even complete one full month of work.
The report had found that the better performing the budtender was, the more likely they were to stay in their position. But what are potential reasons for why they leave?
Budtenders have been compared to coffee shop baristas and bartenders; when, in reality, working as a budtender is a unique role of its own. Among the five most popular questions that budtenders receive, per cannabis.net, the one that sets budtenders on a different level than nearly all other professions in the retail industry is: how do I dose my cannabis? Budtenders are faced with difficult questions from customers seeking medical or legal advice.
Determining therapeutic amounts of cannabis often needs individualized attention, where comprehensive training is required to provide such information. Budtenders may be equipped with the knowledge to assist, but there are two main reasons for why they cannot provide that assistance to their customers. First, it might not be possible to find the time to offer appropriate guidance when they are serving over 100 customers per day. Secondly, for those without a medical license or a disclaimer to protect them, they are prohibited in certain dispensaries from offering specific dosing advice. One may be left with the feeling that reasonably fulfilling the needs of every guest who walks through the door is unachievable. Lack of control or unclear expectations can quickly lead to burnout.
Support (or lack thereof)
Is leadership providing the support needed to fulfill the demands of the job? An online survey published in 2016 evaluated the training, knowledge, attitudes, and practices of medical and non-medical dispensary staff. It was found that 94% mentioned providing specific cannabis advice to patients, while 20% reported receiving medical or scientific training. While providing dosing may be problematic, budtenders can still offer non-medical, educated recommendations to their customers.
Findings from the study emphasized the importance of consistent, evidence-based training of dispensary staff who provide specific recommendations for patient medical conditions. Therefore, budtenders should be offered educational opportunities to support their role.
Legitimizing the work
When it comes to cannabis, it’s not just that we need to legitimize the therapy, we need to legitimize the work. Policies are changing but the stigma remains. Lack of social support is another cause of job burnout, where feeling isolated or in constant defense, can lead to stress.
Being a budtender is a difficult job. It takes an endless amount of energy, patience, and intelligence to stand on the other side of the counter. A budtender is expected to know enough to direct the novice in the right direction as well as keep up with the well-read cannabis connoisseur.
Budtenders also carry the heavy burden of the industry. Statistics lead to findings that state:
Budtenders quitting hinders the cannabis industry.
Retail sales go down with turnover.
For a budtender, on one side you have a group in society that does not take your job seriously and on the other hand you have a group blaming you when the industry is hurting. While we still may be a long way off of eradicating the stigma that was created decades ago, we can recognize that without budtenders there would not be a $33 billion dollar industry.
Changing the way we look at the profession
The first solution in uplifting budtenders experiencing burnout may be to offer ample opportunities for them to excel in their position. Realm of Caring (RoC) care specialists can offer two things to dispensaries: consulting budtenders on how to carefully answer difficult questions, and offering a place for customers to go to if they need free, research-backed guidance, from product selection to dosing advice. RoC is an ally in the field, lean on us for the support you need.
How do I know I’m burned out?
Project Helping identifies the main signs of burnout. These include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Headaches or chest pain
- Increased illness
- Loss of appetite
- Increased irritability
- Loss of interest in activities
Mayo Clinic shows that job burnout can result from various factors, including:
- Lack of control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job — such as your schedule, assignments or workload — could lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.
- Unclear job expectations. If you’re unclear about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you’re not likely to feel comfortable at work.
- Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps you work with an office bully, or you feel undermined by colleagues or your boss micromanages your work. This can contribute to job stress.
- Extremes of activity. When a job is monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused — which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.
- Lack of social support. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you might feel more stressed.
- Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don’t have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you might burn out quickly.
When on the verge of, or experiencing, burnout there may be several helpful techniques to help you overcome the burden. Leadership in the cannabis industry can help by outsourcing support from within the industry.
Who is Realm of Caring?
Founded in 2013, Realm of Caring (RoC) is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization. They serve anyone in need of more information about cannabinoid therapies. Through revolutionary research, innovative education, and empowering global community connections, RoC seeks to facilitate and encourage the mainstream acceptance of transformative, plant-powered therapies to benefit individuals and families and serve healthcare providers as well as the hemp and cannabis industries.
Since becoming a formal non-profit in 2013, RoC has cherished a vision that has remained unchanged: the belief that the quality of life matters.
If you want to reach out to our care team to discuss anything cannabinoid therapy related one on one – we are here for you! You can call our free hotline at 719-347-5400, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule an appointment.