Two in Three Employees Say Management Hasn’t Communicated Expectations on Use of Recreational Cannabis in the Workplace

However, Majority (55%) of Managers Say their Organization’s Employees Clearly Understand Management’s Expectations on use of Recreational Cannabis in the Workplace

The author(s)
  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, October 10, 2018 — With the legalization of recreational cannabis use just around the corner, a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of ADP has found that managers and employees are not on the same page when it comes to their workplace’s policies on the use of recreational cannabis in the workplace.

Only 18% of working Canadians who are not part of management say that the management team at their workplace has communicated clear expectations on the use of recreational cannabis in the workplace. This leaves two in three (65%) saying that management has not communicate their expectations, and another two in ten (17%) unsure of whether those expectations have been communicated clearly.

On the other side of the office, a majority (55%) of managers indicate that their organization’s employees clearly understand management’s expectations on the use of recreational cannabis in the workplace. Only 21% say their employees do not clearly understand these expectations, while 24% are unsure.

It’s clear that there is a disconnect between management and rank-and-file employees on the policies which govern the use of recreational cannabis in the workplace.

While a majority (70%) of working Canadians say they are aware of their organization’s policies and guidelines on the use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace, managers (75%) are more likely than employees (64%) to be aware of these policies. Moreover, only one quarter (24%) of working Canadians believe their organization is introducing or revising its workplace polices and guidelines because of the upcoming legalization of recreational cannabis – with managers (36%) being much more likely than employees (13%) to be aware of these new or revised policies. Overall, four in ten (37%) working Canadians say their workplace is not introducing or updating their existing policies, while four in ten (38%) simply don’t know if this is occurring.

The knowledge gap isn’t contained to workplace policies, as only 16% say they’re ‘very familiar’ with the changes to the laws related to the legalization of cannabis for recreational use and where it will be allowed to be consumed. Most others are only somewhat familiar (52%), not very familiar (24%) or not at all familiar (8%). Managers are more likely to be very familiar than employees (23% vs. 9%).

While most (70%) working Canadians expect that they will not be allowed to use cannabis for recreational purposes during work hours (i.e. lunch, coffee breaks, remote work, etc) or before going to work, nearly two in ten (17%) indicate that it is a possibility – although their workplace hasn’t indicated one way or the other. Nearly one in ten (6%) believe that they will indeed be able to use it during work hours or before coming to work – led mostly by managers (10%) more so than employees (2%).

Most working Canadians say they’ll stay away from recreational cannabis around work:

  • Just one in ten (13%) say they’re at least somewhat likely (4% very/9% somewhat) to use cannabis for recreational purposes before going to work (19% of managers vs. 7% of employees)
  • Fewer than one in ten (9%) say they’re at least somewhat likely (4% very/5% somewhat) to use cannabis for recreational purposes during work hours (14% of managers vs. 4% of non-managers).
  • One quarter (26%) say they’re at least somewhat likely (8% very/18% somewhat) to use cannabis for recreational purposes during after-work hours socializing with work colleagues (31% of managers vs. 20% of non-managers).

While relatively few say they’re likely to consume cannabis at or before work, many believe that legalization will have an impact on their workplace in various ways. The chart below indicates the percentage of working Canadians who believe that legalization will increase, decrease or have no impact on the following things:

Impact on…

% increase

(a lot/a little)

No impact

% decrease

(a lot/a little)

Don’t know

Health and safety incidents

55% (17%/38%)


11% (5%/7%)



40% (11%/29%)


12% (5%/7%)



19% (5%/14%)


19% (7%12%)


Quality of work

16% (5%/11%)


43% (14%/29%)



16% (6%/9%)


46% (16%/30%)


On balance, working Canadians appear to think that health and safety incidences and absenteeism will increase once recreational cannabis is legalized, while the quality of work and productivity of employees will decrease.

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 17 and 21, 2018, on behalf of ADP. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 working Canadians (500 of whom are managers, 500 of whom are not, none of whom are self-employed) aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Quota sampling and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all working Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population, including managers (+/- 5 points) and non-managers (+/- 5 points). All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2002
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.

The author(s)
  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs