Substance abuse in the workplace does not only lead to lost productivity; it can also lead to an increase in accidents, violence and overall cost to the employer. Substance abusers are less productive than non-abusers, miss work more often and are much more likely to file worker's compensation claims. Further, substance abusers are likely to have health problems that affect their performance, and their abuse may also lead to personal problems, distracting them from their jobs.
To combat workplace substance abuse, you need to let your employees know that it won’t be tolerated, but you also have to show them why your drug-free workplace policy also helps them, both personally and professionally. Creating a drug free workplace includes:
1. Crafting and implementing drug free workplace policies
2. Offering education about alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace
3. Providing support and substance abuse intervention to employees as necessary
Establish a clear employee drug policyThe first step in combating drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace is to create clear policies. For the best results, your policies should include clear consequences for violation and should offer help to those who need it. You'll also have to make sure your drug-free workplace policies conform to local laws.
Drug-Free Workplace Policy Builder to create your basic policy, or create a more customized employee drug policy with Drug-Free Workplace’s Create-A-Policy. Review the U.S. Department of Labor’s clickable map to check laws for your state before you implement your employee drug policy and have your attorney provide the final approval for your policy.
Provide substance abuse awareness for your employeesProviding education to your employees goes a long way to preventing drug abuse in the workplace. A substance abuse awareness program can help them understand the personal costs of drug abuse, as well as the cost to their own jobs.
U.S. Department of Labor. Get fact-based brochures about the dangers of drug abuse from The American Council for Drug Education. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides pamphlets in both English and Spanish addressing alcohol abuse in the workplace.
Implement drug testing selectively as part of your substance abuse interventionWhile universal or random drug testing have the potential to reduce drug-related accidents, they can also create low employee morale and suspicion of management. With a more selective policy, such as mandatory testing when an accident occurs or when you see signs of intoxication, drug abuse goes down while employee morale stays up.
Offer substance abuse intervention to your employeesMany drug or alcohol abusers know they need help, but they are afraid of losing their jobs should their employers find out they have a drug problem. Establish an employee assistance program (EAP) for your workplace and help employees get the counseling they need, referring employees to treatment and rehab services when necessary.
- Realize that even a positive test for drugs or alcohol doesn't mean your employee has a drug abuse problem; tests are not 100% reliable. Discuss the results with your employee and look for other signs of substance abuse in the workplace before you recommend substance abuse intervention.