It’s a common belief that people who are suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction are unemployed, maybe even homeless. When in actual fact, over 70% of individuals struggling with addiction are employed. But how are they dealing with addiction in the workplace? Employers must acknowledge these behaviours and be aware of the impact workplace addiction can have on the individual’s performance. Functional addicts are still likely to perform worse than colleagues who aren’t suffering from an addiction. Their lack of productivity costs companies countless of pounds every year, it also creates a dangerous working environment. The severity of the danger will depend on the type of job; however, no industry is immune to addiction.
How do you know if an employee or colleague is dealing with addiction in the workplace?
If you’re unsure of the effects which alcohol or drug addiction in the workplace can have, then these are the most common signs to look out for. You’re likely to see a higher turnover in staff as performance is poor, there may be illegal activity including theft taking place, they’re likely to be frequently late or absent from work, they may be taking unnecessary risks or causing injuries and accidents, poor decision making and loss of efficiency will be prevalent, co-workers may experience a loss of morale as a result of erratic behaviour or decreased motivation, and there’s likely to be a poor company culture present.
It might not always be straightforward to identify when someone has a workplace addiction. If you suspect a drug or alcohol addiction, it’s important that you familiarise yourself with the most common traits of substance abuse in the workplace. An employee could be making excessive trips to the bathroom, displaying erratic or aggressive behaviour, suffer from poor hygiene, make consistent errors in judgement or have an inability to focus, take multiple sick days without proof of a doctors note, disappear for long periods of time, appear constantly unprepared, initiate conflicts with co-workers, display changes in mood or regularly seek secrecy/isolation, or have a reduced quality of work. All of these are important factors in what to look out for when you’re concerned about workplace addiction. However, there are preventative measures that you can take to help avoid dealing with addiction in the workplace. As an employer, you should be responsible for managing these preventative measures.
What can you do to prevent alcohol or drug addiction in the workplace?
Don’t be fooled into believing that your workplace is impenetrable against drug or alcohol addiction, this disease doesn’t discriminate. The best way to avoid the negative impacts which addiction brings, is to be proactive rather than reactive to dealing with addiction in the workplace.
Provide dedicated resources: Most people who are suffering with drug or alcohol addiction feel completely alone and don’t know how to overcome their internal battle. By providing dedicated resources such as information on local support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, you’re making that support accessible without the need to discuss personally. Knowing that there’s help out there, can make a huge difference.
Establish clear substance use policies: This can be as simple as including a section on workplace addiction in the employee handbook. You must be clear and concise on your policies towards alcohol or drug addiction in the workplace, this ensures that employees know what the consequences are for abusing drugs or binge drinking when it impacts on the workplace. It could also help to create informative posters to display in break rooms as a reminder.
Organise helpful workshops: It’s important to acknowledge drug or alcohol addiction in the workplace and do what you can to educate your team on the effects. You can conduct the research yourself or get in touch with addiction specialists to assist you in creating frequent workshops to discuss workplace issues such as alcohol or drug addiction. These educational workshops are a fantastic way for your employees to learn how to identify workplace addiction and also to teach those who are suffering about the risks involved.
What can you do if you strongly suspect alcohol or drug addiction in the workplace?
As an employer, you must be prepared for dealing with addiction in the workplace. You must better equip yourself and your company against the effects of addiction so that should the situation arise, you know how to deal with it professionally and lawfully.
There are a few legalities that you should familiarise yourself with, knowing what you’re legally allowed to say or do is imperative. It’s also helpful to keep records of the employee in discussion so that you have a record to reference should you ever need to take disciplinary action. In most workplaces, if you felt there was no other choice than to fire them, you’ll need to provide proof of why you’re doing so. This could be due to poor performance, careless behaviour, excessive absences, lack of punctuality, or aggressive conflicts with co-workers.
It’s appropriate to fire someone if they’re creating a dangerous environment for themselves and others to work in as a result of drug or alcohol addiction. At first you should ask them to seek professional support, if they refuse or the support is ineffective, then you’re likely to be left with no choice but to let them go. All of this is of course dependent on your company policies. As long as your policies and procedures are clear, you’ll be able to make an informed, honest, and legal decision.
Workplace addiction isn’t something which can be dealt with quickly, but as an employer, you’re responsible for providing essential support to help your employees. Your actions towards dealing with addiction in the workplace could have a dramatic effect on someone’s life. Help to prevent workplace addiction and educate your team on the effects which addiction can have, it’s the most sensible and diligent approach.
Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 at 12:17 pm in Latest News.