Published July 6, 2022

How to Tackle the Temp Market for Cannabis Staffing

Hiring temporary workers can be a challenge in any industry, but it’s an absolute necessity for many cannabis businesses.


Temp workers not only help bridge inevitable gaps in professional roles, but they also fulfill crucial seasonal tasks such as processing outdoor harvests, trimming, extraction, and even budtender or brand ambassador positions during the holidays.


Engaging a cannabis staffing firm helps company leaders and hiring managers navigate fluctuating market demands, labor laws, and compliance, particularly in today's regulatory landscape, which varies widely by state.


The Top Three Models for Cannabis Temp Staffing

There are three main avenues cannabis businesses can take in filling temporary worker roles:

  1. In the traditional temp staffing model, an employer contracts a staffing agency to take on certain hiring responsibilities.
  2. More recently, staffing firms have also offered a “no-touch” model that reduces the employer’s responsibility in not only the hiring process but also in managing temporary employees.
  3. With the “HR solutions” model, employers can liaise with staffing firms that provide not only hiring support, but also customized consulting for human resources services, risk assessment, operational compliance, and more.

Each model has its pros and cons, but as a group, they give employers more options than ever for hiring temporary workers according to their management bandwidth, budget, and enterprise scale.


Here’s a quick overview to help you determine which strategy is right for your business:

Traditional Staffing Services and the Employer of Record

With the traditional staffing model, an employer engages a staffing firm to primarily assist with recruiting, hiring, and some HR needs relating to temporary employees. The firm will offer several candidates who have been screened for a particular role, and it’s up to the employer to interview and select a temporary worker from that pool. Additionally, the staffing firm can help coordinate the job offer and communicate pay rates and start dates to temp candidates.


Once the hire has been made, the staffing solutions agency continues to stay involved as the legal employer of the temporary worker. This is what is known as the staffing firm serving as the “employer of record” on behalf of the company for whom the temp candidate is working. That means the staffing firm is the point of contact for temp employees regarding work schedules, time off, sick days, or other attendance matters.


​As the official employer of record, the staffing firm is responsible for hiring costs associated with recruiting and starting the temp employee, including onboarding and establishing benefits. The cannabis business using the temp worker pays a markup—that’s a certain percentage of that employee’s hourly rate—to the staffing firm to cover these costs in addition to the employee’s pay.

The No-Touch Approach, Powered By Tech

The no-touch staffing model, sometimes referred to as the technology-based staffing model, is essentially a streamlined version of the traditional approach to hiring temp workers. “No touch” refers to the way a cannabis business can interact with the staffing firm through a website or app.


With this model, the staffing firm still recruits, screens, and selects candidates for temporary roles, as well as negotiates pay rates. The cannabis business then chooses a candidate from the selections provided on the staffing firm’s app. That same software platform then becomes a portal where temp workers can confirm details such as their start date, work schedule, and ongoing shift signups. 


As with the traditional model, the staffing solutions agency is the official employer of record and is responsible for all employee paperwork, regulatory compliance, and payroll services. As the primary contact for the temporary worker, the staffing firm is in charge of daily communications about attendance and takes fiscal responsibility for onboarding costs, benefits, and more. These costs are still covered by a markup on the employee’s pay rate.

The HR Solutions Model and Comprehensive Support

The HR solutions model offers a higher level of support to cannabis businesses beyond temporary worker oversight. In this approach, the staffing firm provides a full suite of HR services such as compliance oversight and assistance, risk mitigation, infrastructure development, operations consulting, employee relations management, and training on state-mandated courses. Rather than the employer paying a varied markup percentage, there’s usually a monthly consulting fee.


​The HR solutions model not only offers the value of vetting temporary employees, but it also adds peace of mind for cannabis founders establishing a presence in emerging markets or those entering new states as an MSO (Multi-State Operator). By offering both compliance and HR expertise, cannabis staffing agencies help executive teams focus on scaling the enterprise without undue regulatory exposure.

Specialized Expertise

These types of ancillary business services are growing increasingly common in the cannabis industry precisely because filling key positions can be such a challenge in emerging markets, across different regulatory environments, and through various stages of corporate growth.


Partnering with a cannabis-focused staffing agency that has a deep knowledge of recruitment, hiring, and staff management and also understands industry regulations that affect team-building decisions saves business owners both time and money.


Similar to outsourcing accounting, insurance brokerage, or legal counsel, contracting a staffing firm for temporary hires or HR and operations consulting helps keep cannabis companies lean and nimble to react to seasonal and market shifts, reduce liabilities, and protect the bottom line.


Learn more about Higher Growth Search’s service offerings. Contact us today.