How Curaleaf’s employee culture blossomed amid industry growth

In this excerpt from Ragan’s 2024 Top Case Studies in Employee Communications & Culture book, find out how one of the most recognizable names in cannabis put its people first to attract and retain talent.

Often, some of the most impactful communications lessons can only be learned in retrospect. After all, comms leaders head up initiatives lasting years, evolving along the way to meet the needs of employees and executives alike.

That’s why Ragan has assembled more than 50 award-winning examples of excellence in internal and comms in the 2024 edition of our Top Case Studies in Employee Communications & Culture book.

Throughout its pages you’ll find stories, data and lessons learned from initiatives launched across some of the world’s largest and most impactful brands, including PepsiCo, CVS Health, John Deere, U.S. Bank and many more.

This week, we’re pleased to present an excerpt from the book examining how Curaleaf — which has long been a leader in the cannabis industry and is this week celebrating the launch of its New York adult-use stores — elevates, educates and cultivates dialogue among its people to keep its employer brand thriving. Read on below, and learn more in the full book.

High-flying goals: Curaleaf cultivated a ‘people-first’ culture to attract and retain top talent globally

The leading international provider of cannabis products aims to foster an atmosphere of acceptance, inclusion and personalized growth for its workforce.

In the United States, Curaleaf currently operates in 19 states with more than 150 dispensaries and more than 20 cultivation sites, employing roughly 5,600 team members.  Curaleaf International boasts a title as the largest vertically integrated cannabis company in Europe.

As part of its people-first culture initiatives, team members were given the opportunity to become more engaged and educated, personally and professionally, through a variety of strategic programs and initiatives, such as:

  • DE&I Task Force and ERGS: To support inclusion and celebrate diversity, Curaleaf’s HR team built out a DE&I task force and six ERGs (employee resources groups) featuring monthly activations and accountability around the company’s DE&I initiatives. The ERGs hosted panels on topics like “Black in Cannabis,” AAPI awareness and LGBTQ+ education.
  • Internal education events: Curaleaf hosted virtual events and panels for employees featuring guests from the cannabis industry (BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Jewish heritage). These events aimed to celebrate diversity, engage team members and provide more holistic workplace experiences.
  • Fun Fridays: The company implemented fun Fridays to help team members celebrate their hard work with an early start to the weekend. They included catered team lunches, group outings and more.
  • Theme of the Month: Each month centered around a theme, with corresponding events to help engage team members on nonwork topics like work/life balance, mental health awareness and heart health. The goal was to provide employees with useful resources related to each topic.
  • One Curaleaf Spotlight: This interview series was launched with the goal of uplifting and recognizing the hard work of team members.

The company began holding biweekly live trainings with HR and has a “New Hires” page to help onboard team members. For performance management, Curaleaf uses the 15Five system. Team members complete a weekly check-in to provide updates on ongoing projects, and give a pulse score from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest) to gauge engagement over the week. The company currently averages 4.1 each month.

Training in unconscious bias/anti-harassment and anti-discrimination through Kantola was developed to educate team members on the importance of understanding how unconscious bias, harassment and discrimination can harm the workplace, along with teaching them how to avoid and react to these scenarios.

Employees were given the opportunity to use LinkedIn Learning to earn certificates and achieve personal and professional goals. From the time of its launch to 2022, 1,243 team members had completed more than 23,000 courses. A three-month leadership development program, “Cultivate the Leader in You,” offered leadership courses and roundtable discussions for team members looking to grow and develop their leadership skills.

As a result of its approach to its people-first culture, on average, Curaleaf reported to Ragan that 10% of its team members receive promotions each year, which according to the ADP Research Institute, is higher than the average of 6% and on par with high-promotion industries such as tech. In the second quarter of 2022, for example, 160 team members advanced internally. Curaleaf’s employee turnover rate from the same quarter was 12.89%, a major improvement from the previous year.


Dive deeper into Ragan’s Top Case Studies in Employee Communications and Culture to learn from dozens of additional brands and organizations. Get the book here.

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