Employee Retention

Five Ways Cannabis Breath Testing Can Improve Employee Retention

Employee retention is in the pits. Despite whatever doom and gloom predictions you may hear about the economy and hiring forecasts, businesses are still struggling to keep employees. Nearly 4.5 million people quit their jobs in April, and more than 11 million jobs are waiting to be filled.1

And yet, many employers are still toying with cliché retention strategies designed to distract employees rather than address their concerns of dissatisfaction and disengagement (how many pizza parties and gym memberships can one person have?). While we could write an entire blog about how we built an expansive remote workforce during a pandemic, we’re much more equipped to zero in on one important aspect of employee retention – company culture.

And because we focus our rigorous scientific research and cutting-edge drug testing technology on improving workplace safety while balancing employee privacy, we’re going to start there.


“Every month I’m down one person due to a positive drug test result. The cost to replace an employee is $10K when recruitment, onboarding, and training costs are considered.”

Manufacturing Employer

We can’t tell you how many times we hear from employers who echo this concern. Companies want to keep their best and brightest, but confusing cannabis laws and outdated workplace drug testing policies (zero-tolerance, anyone?) are leaving employers no choice but to terminate or suspend good employees for failing a cannabis test – even in states where adult cannabis use is legal. And when other employees see this happening, they may be compelled to quit and find work with a company that has a more modern drug testing program and policy.

“We’re struggling to keep our employees as other employers in the area are allowing marijuana.”

Manufacturing + Distribution Employer

The answer to this retention problem may be a cannabis breath test that detects only recent use, correlating more closely to the employee’s workday.

“We have an antiquated drug testing program, and now we’re stuck in a position where the laws are changing faster than our technology. We’re looking for a way to continue testing and have a safe work environment.”

Manufacturing Employer

Here are five ways cannabis breath testing can be used to boost employee retention.

1. Random

Random testing describes the unscheduled testing of employees using a random selection process based on pre-defined criteria. Regular random cannabis breath testing helps improve workplace safety and productivity by confirming employee adherence to company policies that restrict use before or during the workday. Random testing balances a company’s use of drug testing as an important risk mitigation tool, while accepting more and more people can use cannabis legally during their personal time. It also boosts employee retention by enhancing corporate culture and creating a fair and equitable testing program free of bias and subjectivity.  

Random testing promotes safety because it deters on-the-job use before a problem occurs by setting an expectation that cannabis use during the workday is not acceptable. Used in combination with conventional testing methods to detect the use of other drugs, a cannabis breath test provides quick insight into the recent use of cannabis that has the potential to impact job safety and performance.

2. Post-Incident

Post-incident testing involves testing an employee or team involved, or associated with, an incident at work. Cannabis breath testing for recent use helps employers determine whether on-the-job use may have contributed to a workplace safety incident. A cannabis breath test can be used in conjunction with other solutions to test for a range of substances restricted by company policy. Used in this manner, a cannabis breath test assists with retention by avoiding negative action against employees for past legal cannabis use unrelated to a workplace incident.

Furthermore, technology that isolates recent use helps protect policy-abiding employees and provides an objective measure of recent use to determine on-the-job cannabis use.

3. Return-to-Duty

Return-to-duty testing involves screening employees who are returning to work after an extended leave or after a previous positive test that violated the employer’s drug policy. Return-to-duty testing offers a second chance to employees after a workplace incident or drug use violation. At the same time, it gives employers an objective method to ensure safety and fairness as employees return to work.

When implemented this way, a cannabis breath test can help provide an alternative to zero-tolerance policies that take negative action after an employee’s first offense. Return-to-duty breath testing helps companies support and retain employees following a first offense, while testing for recent use avoids the risk of a repeat violation.

4. Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion testing enables the employer to test an employee when there is evidence or reasonable cause to suspect drug use. Testing for reasonable suspicion is an important method as employers work to establish safe and drug-free workplaces. A cannabis breath test for recent use helps create a safe work environment by testing employees who exhibit signs of concerning behavior, but also allows employees to return to work quickly should a result clear them of recent use.

“We certainly want to retain employees, but we have a lot of safety-sensitive positions and can’t have them under the influence while they work. This tool could be a good deterrent.”

Manufacturing Employer

With a breath test, employers can quickly and objectively determine if an employee has recently used cannabis, either ruling out the drug or confirming it as a potential factor influencing employee behavior. Either way, employers have an objective measure to use in conjunction with additional drug testing, medical evaluation, and mental health support for employees.

5. Post-Hire

Post-hire testing involves screening all new employees within a predefined period after their date of initial employment. Employers need policies and procedures that align with current cannabis laws. Updating testing methods to isolate recent cannabis use balances company use of drug testing as an important part of its risk mitigation strategy, while recognizing many candidates can now use cannabis legally outside of work. This approach promotes equity and fairness among all employees.

Additionally, using a cannabis breath test for post-hire testing may assist with recruiting efforts because it avoids excluding qualified candidates as conventional testing methods may do. Just as employees decide to leave companies because of unfair or outdated workplace drug testing policies, they’re equally compelled to recruit other good workers when they find the right company culture.


A recent use cannabis breath test can help companies future-proof their operations, maintain safety, recruit, and retain valuable employees. Employers can deter use by testing immediately after hire and throughout employment, using breath technology to enforce policies that prohibit cannabis use immediately before or while at work but do not penalize employee use outside work as outlined in the employer’s policy.

A cannabis breath test provides a mutually beneficial way for employers to maintain a safe work environment and for employees to be treated fairly during the era of cannabis legalization. In an age of shallow employee retention strategies, try something that can make a meaningful and lasting impact on your company culture.

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July 21, 2022

Director of Content + Brand Strategy