SWADE moves to 4 day work week for dispensary employees
Over the last few years, companies across the US have started to move toward more employee-friendly scheduling models. With the pandemic came in a boom in remote work and telecommuting, but further in the fold, there was an increased attention to work-life balance and overall employee satisfaction.
We have seen a rise in competitive wages and a shortage of workers at traditionally low-paying, stress-filled environments, especially those with a limited opportunity for long-term growth and advancement. From fast food to traditional retail, workers have turned away from inhospitable environments and didn’t return to prior employers after finding new opportunities and creative ways to earn.
One of Missouri’s most prominent dispensary chains has taken note and is changing the way its stores operate moving forward. Later this month, SWADE will move its full-time hourly staff to a 4 day work week, echoing one of the most prominent movements in labor over the last decade.
Globally, the move toward a 4 day work week has taken root. Iceland began experimenting with 4 day work weeks and labor hour reduction in 2015, deemed successful the change prompted a widespread shift in how many of the country’s businesses operate with roughly 90% of the workforce now working in a reduced-hour environment.
In February, Belgium moved to a model allowing employees to opt in to a four-day work week, but with that move comes the possibility of extended daily hours. The United Kingdom began a six month pilot earlier this month, with over 70 companies and more than 3,000 employees participating, researchers from Cambridge, Oxford, and Boston College will analyze data and observe how the change impacts societal issues including gender equality and the environment. In Spain, a pilot program is expected to be agreed upon later this year, that will allow workers from 200 companies, over 6,000 participants in all, to move to a 32 hour work week.
Stateside, earlier this year, Qualtrics released a survey that saw 92% of US respondents in favor of shortened workweeks.
In the case of SWADE, the company has made every effort to ensure that the change to a 4 day work week benefits employees in every aspect, without any sacrifice.
“It’s not lost on me that there is a major labor movement happening worldwide. At its basis, offering a 32-hour work week (4, 8-hour shifts), is just another in a long line of benefits we offer our employees. The big idea here is to not necessarily jam five days’ worth of work into four. But rather offer our employees a better work/life balance, make them happier and more engaged while at work, and attract and keep great people. Working in the cannabis industry is difficult. It’s stressful, highly regulated, can have long hours, and our employees are expected to implement a wide amount of knowledge,” explained SWADE’s Director of Dispensary Operations, Jack Haddox.
“This change is important to SWADE because we always want to be viewed as a leader not just in the cannabis space, but in the business world as well,” Haddox continued.
“To me, how we treat our employees will always be a number one priority, and how we treat our employees should translate into the overall customer and patient experience in the store.”
To accomplish this goal, full-time employees of SWADE will receive a pay bump, with the company raising starting wages for full-time employees from $15 to $18.75, ensuring that even with reduced hours, employees are still bringing home the same amount per pay period. Additionally, SWADE will continue to offer industry-leading benefits for hourly staff, the company offers full medical, dental, and vision premiums paid, as well as a 401k match program, and an employee discount for those with their medical marijuana card.
For the company’s part, Haddox sees the scenario as a win-win, there will be no change to hours of operation, no impact on the amount of staff to serve patients, and a higher overall level of employee satisfaction.
“We expect to see savings on decreased employee turnover, employee training costs, and fewer sick days taken.”
“[And] certainly, more engaged employees at work. My motto has always been happy staff equals happy customers. The attitude and personalities of our product specialists can be infectious, and I hope to spread that throughout the cannabis industry. It’s also a challenge to the managers of our 5 stores to innovate and find more ways to streamline the business to make it more efficient.”
“[A shortened work week means] increased innovation, when not bogged down by as many long hours or stress, our employees are freed up to find creative solutions to some of the difficult problems we face in the cannabis industry and help us operate more efficiently.”
For Haddox, the move is about more than improving work-life balance, but improving the quality of life for SWADE employees.
“[The change means] reduced stress levels, cannabis is tough; lots of rules and regulations, and compassion fatigue is a real thing in the medical cannabis world.”
“Employees are able to spend more time with their families, pursuing hobbies, or anything else,” Haddox said. “With gas at $5 per gallon, it’s one less day we’re filling up each week.”
“Finally, as with many aspects of our business, I hope we start to set the standard and a proof of concept not only in the cannabis industry but retail. As far as I can tell, this is the first benefit of its kind in any retail setting.”