Best Practices

What Is Corporate Culture And How Can Your Dispensary Foster It?

Fostering a positive culture is a vital part of growing your bottom-line

No matter what your business, from retail to service-based, to knowledge-based, fostering a positive employee and corporate culture is a vital part of growing your bottom-line. A marijuana retail store is no different. Simply, when employees are engaged and appreciated, their jobs become more just a paycheck to them, and as a result, they are motivated to work harder, invested in your growth, and produce positive results for the corporation. This is not a “how to” guide on building employee or corporate culture in your marijuana retail operation, but rather an overview of the areas where you should ask yourself some important questions about your corporate culture.

Employee Culture: The Basics

According to an article in Forbes by big business thinker Jacob Morgan, corporate culture is what “energizes us or drains us, it motivates us or discourages us, it empowers us or it suffocates us”. Morgan, of The Future Organization, offers the following components of what makes up corporate culture:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Leadership Approach
  • Work Style
  • Pay & Benefits
  • Performance
  • People
  • Purpose

Instead of looking at these broadly, let’s dig right down to instead look at these attributes of corporate culture in a more specific way as it’s applied to the marijuana retail experience. We’ll pose some questions for you to reflect on in terms of your own cannabis dispensary with the idea to get the wheels turning on ideas that can create change in your corporate and employee culture.

Organizational Structure

Is your reporting structure complicated? Does your staff know exactly who to go to for what issue or purpose? Remember the movie Office Space where there was a giant restructuring and it was found that employees were reporting to something like 8 bosses about cover sheets on the “TPA reports”? Don’t get caught in a place where there are so many bosses that you lose efficiency for your employees.  Your employees should know exactly who their superior is and what part of your marijuana retail business operations handles specific components of the employee experience. Don’t overcomplicate your organizational chart!

Leadership Approach

What kind of leader are you? Do you treat your employees as colleagues, or do you place yourself over them as “boss”? Are you “buddy buddy” so that your employees could take advantage of you, or do you maintain a level of separation so to not remove your place as lead within your company? The best kind of leaders don’t just lead, but they take steps to improve themselves as leaders. While it’s important to engage in regular corporate professional development for any sector, leaders in cannabis will improve their overall value of their cannabusiness.

Work Style

Many cannabis businesses are extremely relaxed in the ways they do business, which can lead the chances of a slip in compliance with state regulations growing higher while putting your cannabusiness in serious jeopardy. What is the work style that you promote at your marijuana retail store? Are you “loosey goosey” in the ways you do business? Are you lax in the ways you make your employees do quality checks or inventory management processes on your product? Do you have a “do now, worry later” kind of attitude? On the flip side, perhaps you run a tight ship and your employees don’t have much breathing room for their own creativity. They may feel stifled and controlled. What’s your approach? While the above examples are the extremes, strong leaders find a balance between both sides of the spectrum.

Pay and Benefits

How do you compensate your budtenders? Do you have an hourly rate, or do mobilize employee incentives to work harder, sell more, and in turn, grow your company? With dispensaries and marijuana retail stores becoming more common across legalized states for both medicinal and recreational/adult use purposes, you need to stay competitive in order to attract and retain rockstar employees. Are you in a position to be able to offer your marijuana retail employees an employer-sponsored benefits plan or other health insurance plan? When you take care of your employees’ health, they take care of the health of your cannabusiness.


Do your employees have the opportunity to have formal performance appraisals? Do you provide regular feedback to your employees so they have a chance to develop and improve? Do you take note of certain employees for the potential for growth within your company and your business? Making performance and its appraisal more formal will give you as a benchmark and standards from which you set your employee expectations on. From these benchmarks, you can ensure you’re keeping your staff at the top of their game to maintain the standard of service, and business growth, you’ve built your work around.


A positive corporate culture is fostered when employees get along and help each other thrive for the good of your company and their own personal and professional development. How do you match people together on shifts, or in certain tasks? Do you take advantage of people’s skill sets when forming teams?  On the other side, what do you do to foster camaraderie and collegiality between your colleagues? Businesses that invest in employee appreciation always see results when their team is connected, and invested in working towards the same goal.


The purpose is last on this list, but in Marijuana Retail Report’s opinion, uniting all your business around your larger purpose is key to fostering positive corporate culture. Your purpose is your reason for being. If you’re a successful marijuana retail operation, you already know that you need to do extra work to stick out against the rest, including defining your purpose for being. Who is your target audience? What is the difference you want your dispensary, and your employees, to make in their lives? Whatever your dispensary purpose, how can you rally your employees around that purpose and have them embody that purpose in every aspect of their work?

If You Build It…

If you build a good dispensary with good corporate culture, good employees will come. Gone are the days when people are just thrilled to have a job in a dispensary. The environment has exploded and cannabis dispensaries are big business, requiring an approach to fostering employee and corporate culture just as ambitious as Google’s (to scale, of course!).

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