Alcohol and drug use among employees can be an expensive problem for businesses. It can create safety hazards and expose your company to liability. Further, it can affect employee morale and decrease productivity. Substance use and abuse are a major concern for employers because most drug users and heavy drinkers are employed in their firms. In 2007, of the 17.4 million illicit drug users, nearly 75% were employed. However, firing substance abusers will aggravate the situation. Instead, they should be educated about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
The office can be an effective place to address alcoholism and drug issues by implementing a comprehensive workplace drug-testing program focused on health improvement. Surprising as it may sound, most employers across the United States are not required to drug test candidates unless required by federal and state regulations for certain jobs. However, you can implement a workplace drug-testing program to maintain a drug-free work environment.
A drug-free workplace program is the best way to address drug and alcohol-related problems at the workplace. Most employers also implement an Employee Assistance Program focusing on the emotional and physical recovery of the employees.
The following six tips will help you to implement a successful workplace drug-testing program.
Assessing Your Requirements and Resources
Developing a drug-free initiative is no cakewalk. It begins with assessing your requirements and resources. Small organizations with low safety/ security risks can implement a basic employee assistance program without a drug testing facility. However, medium and large scale organizations need to implement drug testing policy as well as an employee assistance program. If your business falls under the sector with mandated drug-testing requirements, you may have to promote a comprehensive wellness and health program with a strong policy.
Developing a Written Substance Abuse Policy
Policy development is the key element of a successful drug-free workplace program. A written drug test policy sets the tone for your program. It should strike a balance between the rights of both, employees and employers. It can be short and to the point. However, it should clearly define your take on the issue of drug use as an employer.
The policy should reflect your work ethics and environment. For example, your competitor may focus on strict drug-testing regulations with a strong law enforcement model. On the other hand, you may want to emphasize on performance and assistance of the employees. You should consult with a competent attorney to make sure that the policy conforms to the concerned state and federal laws.
Educating and Training Your Employees
It is necessary for the employees to understand your policy. Workers need to know about the changes in the current policy whenever they are hired or rehired. You should post the policy on the company website. You can also share printed literature and videos to spread awareness about your policy. Employees will not have any problem with a transparent and reasonable drug-free workplace policy.
Training Supervisors and Managers
As supervisors have direct contact with employees, they can easily detect performance issues that could indicate substance abuse. You can conduct training programs for supervisors and managers that help them identify drug users. The training should also focus on various methods to detect drug use. Supervisors and managers are not responsible for diagnosing the reasons for a drug-related problem. However, they should be trained to identify the potential illicit drug users in the facility.
Implementing a Strict Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy
The most effective way of creating a safe and drug-free workplace is to implement a strong drug-testing policy. However, make sure that the policy meets necessary federal and state regulations. It should adhere to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) testing guidelines. Ensure to distribute the drug test policy in writing.
The primary focus of your policy should be to avoid hiring illicit drug users and deter current employees from abusing alcohol and drugs. Make sure to test the employees based on current observations and not past incidents. You should test an employee suspected of intoxication immediately after relieving from duty. You can either implement an on-site drug testing facility or contact an external test provider for immediate arrangements. Usually, employers use 10-panel drug test kits to perform on-site drug testing.
Implementing Employee Assistance Program
An effective Employment Assistance Program (EAP) can help employees cope with personal substance abuse issues. It can provide the troubled employees and their family members with short-term counseling, referrals to specialists and other personal problems affecting their work. Additionally, you can provide comprehensive coverage for substance use disorders, including aftercare and counseling to make your EAP more effective. Several employees have become productive members of the workforce after completing an EAP successfully. A successful employment assistance program can save millions in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Workplace alcohol and drug abuse is a serious problem. It can lead to low employee morale and an increased legal liabilities. However, implementing a drug-free workplace program can effectively address this problem. With a written policy in place, you can expect increased productivity, reduced worker’s compensation costs, and a positive public image. But, developing a reasonable and effective policy is a difficult task. You have to consider the legal, financial and emotional consequences of implementing your drug-testing policy. These six tips can help you implement a successful drug-free workplace program.