How Good are the Jobs in Cannabis?

by | Sep 27, 2019

Written by Kristina Etter

A freelance writer and journalist based in Colorado, Kristi is a seasoned pro in cannabis industry content creation and reporting. Her career includes two decades of corporate IT roles at major firms like Maytag Appliances, Wells Fargo Financial, and DuPont Pioneer, which provided her with a unique perspective on the intersection of technology and cannabis.

According to, cannabis job postings are up 90% just over the last year, and cannabis-related job searches are up 650% since January of 2016. With an incredible amount of opportunity and thousands of curious job seekers, are we just assuming the grass is greener on the other side of the fence? One team of researchers at CSU-Pueblo wants to learn more about the quality of the work inside these two booming industries.

Brad Gilbreath, a Management Professor from the Hasan School of Business at Colorado State University-Pueblo, has always been interested in creating psychologically healthy work. He stated in an interview with Cannabis Tech, “We see that municipalities are happy with the tax revenue created by the legal cannabis industry, and we’re certainly happy with the number of jobs being created, but how happy are the employees who work in those roles?”

Cannabis Benchmarks Beyond Profits

While highly recommended by the human resources profession and commonplace in corporate America, benchmarking employee morale in the cannabis space hasn’t been at the top of the priority list. While Gilbreath believes that the reason may be the infancy of the industry and a lack of awareness of the benefits of employee attitude surveys, he believes that cannabis and hemp businesses will find value in the reports he provides.

Some data that Gilbreath is interested in collecting for his research include:

  • Job Control – How much control do employees have over the work they do?
  • Social Support – How well do co-workers support each other at work?
  • Workload – Is the workload appropriate, or do employees feel overloaded?

Besides a standard set of questions aimed at learning how employees feel about their jobs, Gilbreath can customize the report to include any information managers may want to learn as well. Items may ask respondents how well the bosses treat employees and about their overall job satisfaction. Employees can answer anonymously, so their responses tend to be more open and genuine, giving employers a window into the inner workings of their staff.

Additionally, Gilbreath mentioned that two other questions included in the survey which have been providing profound results.

“Two questions have jumped out which appear to be super important,” he stated. The first involves authentic self-expression and asks employees to consider if they can truly be themselves while they are at work. He continued, “Another of the biggest influences so far is job self-concept fit, or does the job truly fit the employee as they envision themselves or their ideal self? Both of those work factors seem to be heavily influencing the extent to which employees consider their job to be a good job.”

Benefits Beyond the Obvious

Gilbreath and co-researcher Pat Radigan are doing more than just collecting data. Companies that participate in the research receive a full report of the results including a detailed roadmap of what they are doing well and areas where they could stand to improve. “While these businesses are scrambling to get established, we help them find areas where they can reduce employee turnover and increase job satisfaction,” Gilbreath offered. “The research shows that employee attitudes translate into measurable effects on things owners care about such as customer satisfaction and profits.” As Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines once said, “If the employees come first, then they’re happy. A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy, so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders. It’s not one of the enduring green mysteries of all time, it is just the way it works.”

The same can be said for the customers in any industry, including hemp and cannabis. However, the intrinsic benefits of understanding the perception of your staff go far beyond the obvious.

Stand Out from the Crowd provided statistics showing that cannabis job listings have nearly quadrupled since 2016. With this kind of growth in the cannabis and hemp industries, the hunt for qualified employees can be daunting. Gilbreath believes that the data pulled from his survey could very well help cannabis employers set themselves apart and attract more candidates, and thus improve the quality of their candidate pool.

Despite the incredible value provided in the reports from the survey, Gilbreath and his team offer the results at no charge to those companies interested in participating in the study. Eventually, Gilbreath hopes to have enough cannabis companies on board that he’s able to provide a benchmark list to help businesses see where they rank in terms of being a quality cannabis-industry employer within their respective state or region.

For more information about the data, the research project, or to enlist your firm to participate in the survey, contact Brad Gilbreath at CSU-Pueblo: or call 719-549-2157.