Last updated: February 24, 2020
Creating a drug-free workplace is important, but how do you talk to your employees about it? Most employees will understand that drug testing and the measures that go along with it are just part of a strategy for the benefit of the company and also for the safety and well-being of all employees. When having that meeting to discuss the plan put in place, it certainly helps to start with something positive.
A robust Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Assuring employees that you care about their well-being is one key to providing an effective drug use policy in the workplace. EAPs can help employees deal with health-related and personal problems that could affect job performance, benefitting everyone. Even if a referral to the company’s EAP is a disciplinary measure, allowing the employee to save face while keeping the situation from escalating is a compassionate alternative.
Health and wellness programs and drug-free workplace policies can also coordinate in the workplace. The drug-free policy should be paired with ongoing drug and alcohol prevention resources. This can include literature, referrals and information sessions. Ideally, employee assistance programs and wellness programs together can create a healthy, drug-free workplace.
Have a plan ready
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are five key components for a successful drug-free workplace program:
- A written policy
- Employee education
- Supervisor training
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
- Drug testing
Before you start talking about what you can offer your employees, you’ve already got a plan in place, right? A useful first step in developing a drug-free workplace program is to conduct a needs assessment. This helps direct resources to the areas that need the most attention. The size of the organization, the type of workforce and the resources available will all have an impact on the type of plan and its effectiveness.
A needs assessment can determine whether alcohol and other drugs are affecting the working environment. It also provides the opportunity to pinpoint areas where change is needed. Setting goals and determining resources is the way to provide a strong foundation for the drug-free program to succeed.
Clear and consistent
Policies should be clear and unambiguous and a written policy should be available to employees with workplace guidelines. The consequences of being under the influence of drugs in the workplace should also be spelled out. Federal and state laws regarding workplace drug use should be uniformly observed. The employer also needs to take into account the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Even though marijuana may be legal in some states, if is against company policy employees should be made aware that they can still be fired if found to be under the influence. In some cases, this applies to medicinal marijuana as well. States have varying policies and the employer should thoroughly examine the laws of the state where the organization is located.
Training of employees and supervisors should be comprehensive enough that everyone understands the company policy. Employees at all levels should be aware of drug policies and know what to expect when implementation begins. Supervisors must be equipped to answer employee questions and make referrals to Human Resources for individuals seeking help with drug addiction. Information should be shared with all employees about whom to contact with questions and concerns, or to ask for help.
Drug testing must be administered by a SAMHSA certified institution and testing/re-testing policies should be the same for all employees in a job classification. Employees should be treated with respect during the testing process and results kept confidential. Comprehensive drug testing guidelines are available online from SAMHSA.
There are many good reasons for having a drug-free policy. The security and safety of each member of the company is enhanced by a drug-free workplace. Those who have substance abuse problems can seek assistance before it impacts their job performance. Trust building occurs when employers emphasize these benefits for employees.
The company also benefits from having a healthy and drug-free workforce. EAPs can reduce absenteeism and increase employee retention. Accidents and worker compensation claims may also be reduced. Early detection of health and substance abuse problems is beneficial for employees a sound business investment for employers.