Last updated: November 23, 2020
Productivity depends on people doing work and for companies seeking every edge available, a drug free workplace is one of the most beneficial for both employee and employer . In 2000, the cost of workplace drug abuse is estimated to have been around $160 billion. 69% of these costs were from lost productivity due to alcohol and drug abuse and death.
A productive workplace is healthy, has good working conditions for the employees, and reduces costs without reducing effectiveness. Increasing morale and reducing the number of days employees miss work, reducing workplace accidents and increasing focus at work, and lowering workers comp costs, reducing claims and retaining more employees are all ways to achieve it. How can all that be done? Ideally, a plan is in place that brings all three to the table. Ensuring the workplace is drug free is one way.
It reduces absenteeism
The DOL study shows that employees with drug and alcohol problems are two and half times more likely to call off work or be tardy. A drug free workplace program can reduce unplanned absences and tardiness.
It decreases accidents
40% of all industrial fatalities can be linked to drugs or alcohol. Up to 30% of all workplace accidents can be tied to drugs or alcohol. If there are less accidents, there is less lost time and more employees on the job, working.
It improves individual employee performance
We don’t need statistics to show that impaired workers are less productive than unimpaired workers. Employees who are heavy drinkers may still be impaired the day after. It is estimated that 2 out of every 10 people have a substance abuse issue. Count your employees and multiply by 20%. That is a lot of lost productivity. The reality is that you can pick any number. No matter what number you choose, it’s too high.
Many companies have taken steps toward a drug free workplace in an effort to stop rising costs, productivity losses, and risk management issues. The ones that do strive to implement plans with clearly defined policies, regular education, drug testing, and an employee assistance component.
Testing is part of the most successful drug free workplace initiatives. There are pre-hire, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, and in some cases, random testing schedules, as well as different types of tests. Testing could be done orally or by urine, depending on the plan in place. The types of drugs tested for is also an option as labs typically look for the most common and most dangerous, which includes opiates, amphetamines, cannabis, PCP and opioids. Other companies may test even more.
The EAP component is to help employees who think they have a problem and to provide a last chance to employees who may test positive. Workplace programs like these definitely have a profound effect on the workplace. Less employee absence means less people having to cover additional work on those off days, meaning happier employees. Fewer impaired workers means less accidents involving them and indirectly caused by, but harming others.
Once a plan is in place, it has to be put into action. There are a number of resources available to help when it comes time to discuss testing with employees and any plan first needs to be evaluated from a legal standpoint to protect the employer. Clearly outlined policies (in writing and posted in a place employees can see them), fair and legally sound testing procedures, and employee access to assistance resources help prevent the distraction and drain that drugs in the workplace cause.