Last updated: May 29, 2023
According to an analysis of pre-employment drug testing completed by American Addiction Centers (AAC), less than 2% of employers listed a drug test as part of their hiring process.
That figure seems a bit shocking, don’t you think?
Granted, not all states require that employers make applicants aware that drug testing is a part of their application process. Considering that AAC gathered their data from analyzing job postings on Glassdoor, maybe lots of employers choose to use the element of surprise.
The look on an applicant’s face when made aware of the company drug testing policy could be very telling—even priceless at times.
Still, the low percentage suggests that we need to promote employee drug testing because providing a safe place to work should be at the top of every business owner’s list. Everyone deserves to come to work without worrying about what’s going to happen to them once they get there.
To test or not to test
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), states that 68.9% of drug users in the United States are employed.
The figure has been shaken up this year due to the massive layoffs, but it won’t be long until we, Americans, get things up and running to speed again. That said, establishing a drug-testing program for your company can play a huge part in your company’s success.
It’s a well-known fact that employee drug testing benefits employers in a number of ways.
- Workplace accidents decrease
- Productivity goes up
- Absenteeism goes down
- Medical costs decrease
The ripple effect of employee drug testing puts a positive spin on your workplace culture too.
If your company doesn’t drug test, here are seven tips outlining how to get started.
When and where
The first step to take when establishing your drug testing program is to find out the laws in your state. While no state forbids implementing an employee drug testing program, some put stipulations on employers regarding the type of test used. Furthermore, marijuana legalization is affecting some employers as well.
As to when you should drug test employees, any and all of the following are acceptable.
- Pre-employment drug test
- Random drug test
- Post-accident drug test
- Reasonable suspicion
If you plan to randomly test employees, drug testing companies can assist you in setting up employee pools for random drug testing. As a matter of fact, many will assist you in creating your policies.
Document all policies and procedures in writing before you begin testing employees.
Choose your test method
There are three commonly used drug testing methods.
- Urine drug test—This test is the most widely used drug test making it the most cost-effective choice.
- Saliva drug test—Employers hoping to identify recent drug use often choose this test for their random testing method.
- Hair follicle drug test—This test isn’t as cost-effective as the urine or saliva tests, however, the fact that any and all drug use is identified for a 90 day period has more employers using this test than ever before.
Of course, blood tests identify current impairment but they are very costly and the detection period doesn’t last long. Most employers reserve a blood test for a post-accident situation.
Unless mandated otherwise by your state or local government, you’re free to choose any drug testing method.
Knowing which drugs to screen for
The 5 panel drug test is most commonly used for employee drug screening. It easily applies to any of the drug testing methods and identifies the following drugs:
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
Note that the opiates panel doesn’t identify semi-synthetic opioids such as oxycontin or oxycodone. A separate opioid panel needs to be included on your drug test to search for these types of drugs.
Standard drug tests are available in 9, 10, and 12 panel versions as well. It’s important to note that even though a test is marketed as “standard,” the list of drugs identified could vary between one company and another.
Furthermore, employers can create a completely customized drug test if they choose to do so. Knowing what types of drugs are used locally allows you to create an employee drug test that best meets your needs.
Select your drug testing company
Study up and determine which drug testing company fits well with your business. Many have teams to help you establish a drug-free program from the get-go.
They’ll help you write your drug-free policies and procedures, offer management and employee training, and manage your drug testing process for you leaving you free to focus on growing your business.
Choosing a mobile drug testing company cuts down on time lost due to traveling back and forth to a test facility. Not to mention the wait time! Mobile drug testing companies set up on-site—whether that’s an office building or a construction site!
Training isn’t a one-time thing
You’ll want to provide training for your staff before you begin your drug-free program. Training makes sure that your management team knows your process inside out. They should always follow it explicitly.
Doing so greatly reduces the risk of a disgruntled employee hitting you with a lawsuit somewhere down the road.
Furthermore, supervisors and management teams should receive reasonable suspicion training. They need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of drug abuse.
Provide education about the dangers of drug abuse for your employees as well. Having the information allows them to make informed decisions and could be the reason they choose to never try drugs—or to seek help if they realize they have a problem.
Potential employees should be aware that you operate a drug-free workplace and that failing a pre-employment drug test means you won’t be hired.
Include other drug testing situations—for instance, random or post-accident drug testing—in the company handbook for future reference.
Additionally, make employees aware of any changes to company policies or procedures immediately.
Stay ahead of the curve
If you haven’t already, consider joining some organizations that address drug abuse in the workplace. They can prove to be a valuable resource for you and your management team.
- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- National Drug & Alcohol Screening Association (NDASA)
- Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA)
Human Resources professionals know it’s important to attract dedicated and high-performance employees.
Ensuring that the workplace is as safe as possible using employee drug testing as a tool goes a long way toward reaching that goal.