Recreational marijuana is legal; now what?

By Jim Annis, CEO

You may know it as cannabis, Mary Jane, pot, grass, 420, burnie, and many more creative names. Whatever you call it, recreational marijuana is now legal in Nevada. What does that mean exactly? That is a little more complicated. This article is not about medical marijuana, because medical marijuana has been around since 2014 and is already incorporated into most workplace drug free policies. Don’t confuse the two. Here is what we know.

If you are 21 or older, you may have an ounce or less of marijuana intended for recreational use in your possession. You must use this amount in your own home or private space, and you may not use the drug in public. Separate provisions in the statute also license the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. Those regulations do not take effect until January 1, 2018; however, for employers, these rules matter now. How do you handle this? Our top five answers are:

  1. Ask your attorney
  2. Ask your attorney
  3. Ask your attorney
  4. Ask your attorney
  5. Ask your attorney

I am not trying to be funny. In terms of human resources, nothing major changes for the workplace, as long as your workplace currently has solid drug-free policies. However, that may not be the perception that employees have. So, that is the first thing we suggest (aside from “ask your attorney”) is that you need to prepare your employees. An employer still has the right to have a drug-free workplace policy, and if you have one, have it reviewed by your attorney (has it sunk in yet?) Publish and educate employees about the workplace policy and be sure that any misconceptions about a free-for-all are addressed right now (the legalization is in effect now). If they did not use or possess at work, employers can still take action based on reasonable suspicion of intoxication, but be educated on how to implement that action.

Employees: We repeat, this is not a free-for-all. If you have had dreams of tumbling out of a carpool van upon arrival at your workplace with a halo of smoke a la Jeff Spicoli, you may be sadly disappointed. (I like the fun tone, but most will use edibles … no smoke, no smell.) Employers can continue to have safe, drug-free workplaces. The recreational legalization does not change this. Safety is the main concern and the approach the workplace should take. Consult your HR department and/or an attorney. Based on other states who have passed similar laws, frequent questions employees ask include:

  • Can my employer still test me for pot?
  • If I am high and get hurt on the job, can I still get worker’s compensation insurance benefits?
  • Can I get fired even if I’m not high?
  • Can I drive while high when I am on company business?
  • Can I take marijuana on a plane when I am on a business trip?

Doing the right thing is our company’s motto. Employees and employers should not experience an enormous change in behavior. You both still should act responsibly. Just because it is legal now doesn’t mean the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence.”

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied’s COO, contributed to this article.

As seen in the RGJ.

Get Creative for SUCCESSFUL HIRING in 2017

by Celeste Johnson, COO


Northern Nevada is now an employee market. Implications for employers include a multitude of things – one being the way they hire. Employers must step out of their box, implementing creative tactics and strategies to find (and retain) top talent.

Why is this? The Northern Nevada market is now at full employment. Essentially, there are more jobs than people. There are some creative strategies employers should consider when looking to grow and change in 2017.

  1. Re-think your strategy.

When a key employee leaves your company, do you automatically replace the position? Every time someone leaves, for better or for worse, you have an opportunity to reset your goals and objectives as well as revisit your organizational structure. Maybe the position is something that can be outsourced, automated, shared between two current employees, or done remotely, leaving you freedom to allocate that budget elsewhere. This is a chance for you to get creative and ensure you are as efficient as possible with your staff. Don’t repeat the knee-jerking habit of hiring a replacement… at least not right away.

  1. And now re-think your benchmark.

Do you hire directly from a job description? If so, it might be time to throw it in the trash. Stop and think about what you really want and need for a position and go recruit for that. On top of that, don’t be afraid to make your job postings truly reflect how great your company is and what the job will really be. Think, “why should they work for you?” You will have better luck finding the right candidates.  In the end, “check the box” hiring does not work in this environment… people already have jobs.

  1. Constantly recruit.

So you don’t currently have any openings. Do you bury your head in the sand? No. You start building your bench. Keep recruiting on top of mind — over time you will find you have given yourself better options… and less stress. You lose options when you are always in the reactive mode. Additionally, if you find a rock star, there might be a way for them to help your business move forward, even if it’s not on the job postings list.

  1. Be honest.

Do you truly know how to hire? Have you ever taken a class? Been trained? Do you know what types of questions to ask? Or, are you repeating the process based on how you were hired? Turnover is costly… at least 1.5 times the cost of the position. How many of your hires are successful? If you don’t have consistent success, seek advice and training. Everyone needs an education on hiring. Why is this? Because the result of doing a better job hiring, is a better workforce, which makes you more profitable, which then attracts better talent. It’s a cycle, and one you need to get right.

  1. Place intelligence and fit over specific skills.

This is where the strategy, “look forward, and reason backward,” comes into play. How do you see a position a year down the road? Take 3-5 key pieces and decide what you are looking for. Does that mean you go to a career college or charter school? Maybe. Find the talent before they hit the workforce, you can train them. Maybe you recruit from a different geographical location. Maybe you recruit from hobby circles or the gym. Where would this person hang out? Anyone can go to job boards. Where else would the candidate be?

  1. Remember that people want different things.

Coming from an HR professional, I say this with caution… not everyone has to be treated the same. What might be really important to one employee could vary dramatically to the next.  That doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. If I know a key employee or potential wants to ski on Wednesdays because lift lines are shorter and I can accommodate, why wouldn’t I? If this skier is also considering my competition and I make this happen, guess who they happily come work for?

  1. Don’t drag your feet.

It’s an employee market, and in an employee market, “he who hesitates is lost.” Great candidates are most likely being recruiting by your competitors. Ask yourself, can they be successful in this position? If the answer is yes, don’t wait.

  1. Consider how you handle departures.

So often I have spoken to candidates that have stated they know (they assume) that once they give their notice they will be asked to leave immediately or will be treated badly. Sometimes people don’t fit in a position or sometimes they have an opportunity that is better for them. Either way, your reaction to receiving notice is critical. Everyone else is still watching — caring about the person and their success above your own labor needs is the right thing to do. And, that employee might come back or become your best referral source.

  1. Think about the value, adjust accordingly.

Think about how much value you are placing on talent. How much time, effort, and money do you put toward recruiting? If recruiting is not a priority and not a budget line item, then you will probably continue to struggle to find talent in 2017. Re-think what you are doing and make some investments — your talent is an asset. In 2008, you may have gotten away with giving recruiting minimum attention… this is no longer the case. Plan to spend some money to attract talent and you will receive a ROI — turnover is more expensive than securing the right talent. Look at your workplace and consider how you can improve to attract these candidates. How is the environment, technology, design of the space, compensation, benefits, education benefits? Get creative, this could mean discounts for employees at places like FedEx or even free airline miles.

Bottom line, employers will need to get creative with the way they hire and in turn, how they think about their internal organizational structure. This is a competitive employee market — it’s time to get creative.


As seen in the NNHRA & NNBW Human Resources and Employment Guide 2017

The Nervous Nine of Human Resources – What Now?

By Jim Annis, CEO


As a regular columnist and presenter, I address employment, workplace and business issues across the country. In ALL cases, I’ve always managed my public persona like I treat my in-laws – never discuss politics or religion – until today. My responsibility as an NCET presenter on this topic compels me to do so.

If mainstream Democrats won in November, we would have been able to predict future actions of the National Labor Relations Board. If mainstream Republicans won, we would have made confident decisions based on party lines. President Elect Trump is a wild card. Sometimes he goes party, then he does a 180. Employers are asking, “What now? How do I plan?” Here are five tips:

1) Plan Your Way Out of Binary Mindset – As the President/CEO of 5 different companies, I spend the bulk of my time planning. Decision makers often take a binary view of uncertainty: Are we in uncertain times, no or yes? If not, we’ll tend to take existing trends and develop reasonably precise forecasts. If yes, we assume that the future is ambiguous and may resort to guessing. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. So plan anyway. It helps you…

2) Never Overreact – We have learned this from 9/11 to the Great Recession. There is always uncertainty, risk and innovation in business. When I realized the recession was happening, it was a certain level of anxiety, but I created a new revenue stream as opposed to planning our demise.

3) Start with What You Know – Today, you know your business better than anyone. Use that. What have your HR claims been? How often? Then pair that with the historical trends. The number of retaliation claims is way up over the past eight years. Claims and litigation by employees is on the rise. The Ninth Circuit District Court typically favors the employee. We will have new Secretary of Labor.

4) Do Your Best/The Right Thing Every Time – UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said be the best that you can be on a regular basis and don’t worry about the competition. Even if the new administration changes laws in favor of the employer, our company will still focus on the employee. Why? Competition for employees in our market is high and we want to continue to be a “Best Place to Work.”

5) Get into Action Mode – What human resources trends do you need to plan for and be proactive about? What is the history of employee claims? What do you need to know specifically about Nevada decisions?