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Becoming The “Employer of Choice”: JMCC’s Roadmap

From the beginning, JMCC Group’s founders envisioned becoming “an employer of choice” everywhere it operates. Group Chair and CEO Diane Scott is the key driver behind this corporate goal.

“Satisfied employees are more committed employees. And, in a business like ours, we need every employee to be 100% committed to our mission of providing the safest and highest-quality medical cannabis to patients worldwide. That’s asking a lot. It means every team member going above and beyond every day," she explains.

“It also means we need to be able to recruit the best person for every job. Top candidates often have more than one choice of employer. We need them to choose us. And we need to keep them working with us. And to do that, it takes much more than just competitive compensation.”

As leaders of a relatively new company in a new industry, Diane and her executive team devoted significant time during JMCC’s early days to determining what becoming “an employer of choice” entailed. They agreed that establishing a strong organizational culture was an essential foundation. That culture would be informed by the company’s corporate mission and values but would also embrace the needs and aspirations of employees.

So far, it seems to be working. In Jamaica, the centre of JMCC’s global cultivation, processing, manufacturing and packaging operations, the company has been able to hire and retain top performers for every key role, and we’re now receiving hundreds of responses to many of the job openings advertised.

Below, we describe some of the major elements in our “Employer of Choice” strategy.

Starts with “Day 1”

JMCC’s “onboarding” program for new team members begins on each employee’s first day and involves a thorough introduction to the company, its mission, values, goals, key policies, structure and operations, as well as to JMCC’s enterprise-wide quality and security programs.

Initial onboarding is followed by one-on-one meetings a few weeks later. These meetings provide a confidential, “judgment-free” opportunity for each employee to air questions and initial impressions about what he or she has experienced with JMCC’s work environment to date, especially whether the company is “living up to” the expectations it has set for mutual respect, tolerance, fairness and great teamwork.

Adapting the company’s HR approaches and initiatives to accommodate local culture, employment laws, customs and needs is also important. For example, there are many differences in these areas between Toronto, Canada, where the company is headquartered, and Jamaica. Seeking out and incorporating the ideas and feedback of employees, on things as simple as how special holidays are celebrated or which local charities to support, can be particularly helpful.

Ensuring a Great Fit

Of course, JMCC’s roadmap to becoming an employer of choice begins long before the onboarding session. It starts with hiring the right people in the first place.

For JMCC, the hiring process includes more than finding employees with the right skills and experience for the job. Every candidate’s aptitudes, attitudes and values are assessed during the interview process, and deemed at least as important as is their ability to succeed in JMCC’s unique culture.

Anthony King leads the team at Caribbean HR Services, which assists JMCC with its recruitment.

“Our methodology includes a multi-level interview process, technical skill evaluations and psychometric assessments, all designed to identify the most competent employees for the role and the best cultural fit for the organization,” he said.

Retaining great employees over the long term also requires market-leading compensation programs. In addition to salary ranges at the top end for each position, JMCC’s employee benefits are among the best in Jamaica, and include paid time off for personal needs, paid holidays, overtime pay, health insurance and pensions. We’re proud of having kept all of employees worldwide on payroll throughout pandemic-related shutdowns, and wherever possible, safely working from home;

Support to Grow Personally & Professionally

As JMCC grows and evolves, so does its needs for a wide range of skills and experiences. To varying degrees, employees bring some of those skills and experiences with them. But there’s also a continuous focus on ensuring staff development and growth are aligned with the company’s needs. JMCC is proactive in helping employees at every level develop their skills and knowledge through continuous performance feedback, and training and development opportunities.

Managers and team leaders are essential to ensuring the company has the human resources it requires today and in the future while balancing those needs with the professional and personal aspirations of team members.

“We are committed to building human capital with our in-depth training programs. They are designed to help employees grow both personally and professionally, and enable the team to operate to international standards. We have to be the best to produce the best medical cannabis possible,” says Yvette Bryan, JMCC’s Quality and Training Manger.

Empowering Employees

As a result of their in-depth orientation, ongoing training and regular communication with, managers and company leaders, JMCC employees are forthcoming about their new sense of responsibility and the direct impact of their jobs on the health and well-being of patients globally.

As Anthony Campbell, a member of the Construction team puts it, “We have discussions about JMCC protocols, and we know what is expected from us in return. We’re constantly reassured about the important job we’re doing. We are working with people who are clear about what needs to be done and why.”

Throughout the pandemic, Diane Scott has also hosted virtual “Town Hall” meetings with employees to share company goals, developments and other information. Questions and feedback are encouraged here as well, and employees can opt to communicate through various channels, anonymously or directly.

Employees are also regularly invited to present new ideas and suggestions for improving processes.

JMCC’s Jamaican team is an invaluable source of information, not only on successful agricultural practices in the country (after all, they’ve been growing medicinal cannabis for centuries) but on dependable local suppliers, potential employees and other resources that have been key to the company’s growth. “We learn something from our team every day,” Diane notes proudly.

Providing a Safe, Equitable and Supportive Work Environment

Jamaica has comprehensive labour and human rights laws, similar to Canada’s in many ways. JMCC sees these as only a baseline to build on to create a safe, equitable and supportive work environment, where every employee can thrive and succeed to the best of his/her abilities. Our employment policies and programs include:

· Strong anti-discrimination/anti-harassment policies: JMCC does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, colour, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability;

· Comprehensive employee safety: JMCC designed its Safety and Health Awareness Program (SHARP) to raise employees’ awareness of workplace safety and best practices, such as proactively identifying, reporting and resolving health and safety risks. SHARP includes a recognition-and-reward component to emphasize the importance the company places on the role of every employee in maintaining a safe work environment. The program is overseen by a joint management-employee team;

· Enterprise-wide security: Our global Security team manages a multi-level security program supported by the latest technology to monitor and reinforce security measures and protocols at all locations as well as when employees are travelling for business.

Ensuring Job Security

In Jamaica, as in other parts of the world, the use of fixed-term contracts has increased among employers, which undermine workers’ job security and the ability to plan and achieve personal financial goals.

At JMCC, employees understand that if they do their jobs well, follow workplace policies and procedures, and contribute as a team member, their employment is secure as long as the company remains strong.

JMCC’s leadership team realized early that building a new company in a new industry provided a unique opportunity to create a culture and work environment that supported our core mission: to help patients worldwide by providing medical cannabis of exacting quality and consistency. Our goal to become the employer of choice in the industry is not just a well-intentioned aspiration but a commitment – one that is actively being pursued with market-leading strategies and programs, measurable objectives and regular employee feedback.

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