Will cannabis destroy your employer brand?

Will cannabis destroy your employer brand?

 The taboo surrounding cannabis is, unfortunately, still prevalent – despite the recent legalization. For the general public, this may not seem like such an issue – but for employers, it can cause uncertainty and fear.

“Honestly, I don’t know how long it will take for the taboo to be eradicated,” explained Kirsten Hayne, Director of People, Culture & Communication at Ryfan – and speaker at HR Leaders Summit Calgary.

“I think that experience will help to erode it, though. The taboo often comes from fear or uncertainty – employers are still wondering how the legalization will change their workplaces – about it is sometimes difficult to anticipate what potential problems we may face. Either those issues don’t materialize and our fear erodes, or they do and we have to work through them. In both instances, experience will help the stigma diminish, in my opinion.”

Apart from the obvious, HR leaders are plagued with a myriad of concerns around cannabis and the workplace. Impairment and safety may be the leading worry, but employer brand is not far behind.

“An incident involving drunk driving, for example, also may reflect badly on an organization’s brand,” added Kirsten. “In addition to safety concerns, there’s now this increased fear around impairment scenarios due to cannabis. How will that reflect on a brand? Not only do we have to take into account the safety concerns but underlying that is how an incident will reflect on the organization and how the public will react.”

On top of the public perception worries, there’s the added anxiety of how exactly to measure impairment. As there’s not real gauge for how ingestion related to impairment, will employers be left to make judgement call for themselves – without the backup of a meter reading?

“I predict this will be a short-lived problem,” explained Kirsten. “There’s a lot of existing tools out there to gauge impairment that are ready to be applied to cannabis. Concussion protocols for professional sports, for instance, are highly developed to test a person’s impairment after a traumatic injury. Since cannabis has a lot of very similar effects, the market is highly motivated by legalization to look at taking the science we already have and using it in new ways.

“Because recreational cannabis was previously illegal, there wasn’t the same market demand for impairment testing tools. But now, employers and other stakeholders will drive up market demand to bolster the science and develop something viable.”

Are you worried about the impact cannabis will have on your workplace?
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