Workplace substance abuse not only impacts workplace culture and productivity but also accounts for almost $81 billion in loss of profit every year. If left unaddressed, it can lead to a rise in absenteeism, high turnover rates, a decrease in work quality, and theft in the workplace.
Moreover, constant abuse of alcohol and drugs affects the overall health of the employee, thus increasing the number of occupational injuries and fatalities. Short-term residual cognitive impairments, lack of motivation and trust among employees, and negative workplace engagement are some of the other side effects of substance abuse at the workplace.
If all these issues sound familiar to you and you wish to implement a workplace substance abuse program, this blog post is for you.
Creating substance abuse awareness
Here’s a step-by-step plan to create a drug-free workplace.
Start by assessing your workplace
While each organization is different and needs different things, it is always a good idea to start evaluating your workplace and its requirements. Some of the questions to consider are:
- Are you in the safety and security industry?
- Is your organization in the transport industry where drink and driving or drug abuse can have serious consequences?
- Are you noticing a high prevalence of drug abuse?
- Is your workforce aware of drug and alcohol consumption-related hazards and health problems?
You need to thoroughly consider the industry regulation law related to drug and alcohol consumption, the federal law, and your current workplace policy before you design an awareness program.
Developing an employee assistance program
An employee assistance program is sponsored by the organization to assist employees or their immediate family members. A general EAP program can cover various employee-related issues, including alcohol and drug abuse. Organizations of all sizes should consider getting an EAP program for their employees, especially if a large number of employees are at risk of any kind of health or emotional problems.
Include drug/alcohol testing
Drug and alcohol testing can help to deter employees who are unfit to come to work, especially where there are chances of accidents or workplace hazards. A drug or alcohol testing program can help you to:
- Abide federal compliance
- Customer requirements
- Comply with insurance requirements
- Identify employees who are abusing drugs or alcohol at the workplace
- Improve workplace safety
- Spreading awareness
Training the employees
Training and educating your employees about the consequences of substance and alcohol abuse can help you achieve overall success in making your workplace drug-free. You may tailor your training topics around the following:
One of the major reasons for people to lean on drugs and alcohol is to manage stress. Identify the social and emotional comforts people seek from these substances and then offer healthy alternatives that help them meet their social and emotional needs. Build self-efficacy by encouraging them to use healthy alternatives. Share stories of individuals who have successfully transformed and have learned to use healthier options.
Opioid pain relievers are commonly prescribed drugs in the US for pain management. However, they have a high potential to be misused. So, you may offer alternative therapy options, especially when designing your health benefit programs.
Implement a holistic wellness program
An overall holistic wellness program helps promote a culture of employee health and well-being. Such programs not only look into the health of the employee but also address the occupational stress and emotional and financial needs of the employees. Such programs can help employees with substance abuse by providing better-coping mechanisms.
Substance addiction is a chronic condition and should be treated with care. A cessation program is a helpful initiative that can help employees with individualized guidance and care. A cessation program can be a standalone program or a part of the employee assistance program or wellness program.
Implementing prevention interventions
Various prevention interventions can be useful to sustain a drug and alcohol-free workplace. A prevention program can be integrated into the workplace culture for a deeper impact.
Establish easy and transparent communication channels
Ensure that your organization follows a two-way communication channel. Establish various communication channels and review them periodically to ensure that communication in the organization is successful.
Measure the effectiveness of the program
It's super important to measure the effectiveness of the program. Know that if you are not able to measure it, your program might not be effective enough. Set definite goals to measure the effectiveness of the program. For example, you might want to measure the rate of absenteeism before and after the program.
Involve employees too
Work along with your employees to establish a healthy workplace environment. Involve them in decision making to make them feel valued. It will also help you to gauge their requirements and understand their pulse.
Creating an alcohol and drug awareness program in your workplace
Creating an alcohol and drug awareness program in the workplace is not a one-time activity. It needs constant monitoring, measuring the effectiveness of the program, and involvement of the employees and the management. Hosting alcohol-free events, including healthy lifestyle articles in the company newsletter, and encouraging employees to seek help are some of the initiatives that companies can embrace to promote a healthy drug and alcohol-free workplace culture.