According to U.S. Department of Labor estimates, some 75 percent of illicit drug users work for small businesses. To minimize the likelihood your company will become a statistic, follow these steps to design a comprehensive drug-free program:
- Create a comprehensive drug policy. It may seem surprising that it's necessary to put such a policy in writing, but doing so can save you a lot of headaches later when a problem presents itself.
- Train supervisors. Managers should be instructed on both ways to spot drug use and how to properly deal with the situation.
- Educate employees. Tell them the company policy but also let them know about what kind of help is available, should counseling be needed.
- Enforce a drug testing policy. Often, companies only do drug screens before workers are hired, but in some cases — especially involving dangerous occupations — routine drug testing may make sense.
Put your policy in writingA written policy is the foundation for a drug-free program. Tailor your own policy but do include three things: Why the policy is being implemented, a clear description of what's prohibited and details on what the consequences will be for violating the policy.
Drug-Free Workplace Advisor Program Builder that will set you on course for developing your program. You can also tap into the Substance Abuse Information Database (SAID), which has hundreds of documents and resources, including sample policies, training and education material, legal and regulatory information. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department offers an excellent kit for employees.
Train, train, trainMake sure supervisors understand the drug-free workplace policy, as well as ways to recognize and deal with employees who have performance problems that may be related to alcohol and other drugs. Managers should know how to refer employees for assistance.
supervisor training section.
Educate your staffAn effective education program includes company-specific information, such as the details of the drug-free workplace policy, general addiction information, its impact on performance, health and personal life, and types of help available. Forums for education can include brown bag lunches, guest speakers, office displays and more.
education module for guidance on what to include in your training sessions. Another good resource is the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace.
Extend a helping handEmployee Assistance Programs (EAPs), are believed to be the best way to address employee's drug problems. In addition to counseling and referrals, many EAPs offer supervisor training and employee education.
information on EAPs.
Find out the truthTesting can be used to deter and detect drug use, as well as provide concrete evidence for intervention, referral to treatment and/or disciplinary action. Typically, testing is not required by law but can legally be required by an employer. Before enacting a program, study local, state and federal laws that might impact the testing process. Consult legal counsel.
Guide to Federal and State Drug-Testing Laws or the testing guide from the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace.
- Call or write your chamber of commerce, business, trade or professional association to see if they have services to help you start a drug-free workplace program.
- Involve employees in developing a drug policy. Set up a task force or employee group to help.
- Before you put a policy and program in place, have an experienced labor and employment lawyer review it.