Dealing with Substance Abuse in the Workplace

It is worrying for a company to find out that their employees are under alcohol or drug abuse. Not only substance abuse is detrimental to the welfare of its workers, but could also cost the organization loss of productivity, risk of injuries and other untoward incidents, as well as an increase in health insurance claims.

A study conducted by the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information says that alcohol and drug users are far less productive, use thrice as many sick days, are more likely to injure themselves or someone else, and are five times more likely to file worker’s compensation claims.

The NCAD report adds that companies in the United States suffer losses of up to $100 billion every year because of alcohol and drug-related abuse by their employees. Meanwhile, the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission in Canada has estimated the annual loss due to absenteeism among workers under substance abuse to be approximately $400 million just in Alberta alone.

This problem also extends to the workers who drink alcohol on a casual basis. They may not be as bothersome compared to the hard-core drinkers, but casual drinkers are responsible for most of lost productivity, especially when it comes to the issue of hangover and the loss of production. A report made by the Christian Science Monitor also found that 21 percent of employees said even their own productivity had been compromised because of a co-worker’s drinking.

To address the issue of substance abuse in the work place, the company should establish a comprehensive program that would benefit both the employer and the employees.

Create a new policy addressing substance abuse

Write a new policy concerning the problem of alcohol and drug abuse, which could include warnings and penalties for employees who show up at work while under the influence as well as those who are frequently tardy or absent, presumably because of hangover.

Train your supervisors in spotting the problem

The company’s administration cannot have all their eyes at the work place all the time, and may not be able to dig deep into the working environment. Your company should also rely on your supervisors in understand the organization’s substance abuse policy and procedures, identify employee problems, and know how to refer employees to available assistance in order to address any personal problems that may be affecting their performance.

Educate and create awareness to your employees

Another step in this process is to educate your workers about the company’s substance abuse program and create awareness about any assistance that is available to them through the company.

Provide assistance to those who need help

The company, if their size and budget allows it, may even wish to establish its own Employee Assistance Program or seek help from outside organizations in providing help and support to those workers who need it.

Conduct drug testing

Drug tests can determine who among your employees have used prohibited drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine, and amphetamines in recent times. Workers who have been found positive from the test should be given either penalty, suspension from work, or even outright termination.

Even if you do not have enough money to cover every employee for a drug test, you should still create a company policy about drug use to somehow reduce substance abuse problems. You can also conduct random drug tests among selected employees every two months

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