Many organizations do not even think it could be a problem. However if Substance Abuse is present in your organization, it can create tremendous liability and dramatically negatively impact the bottom line as well as the organizations reputation. It can impact, absenteeism, affect healthcare costs, contribute to employee injuries and accident claims, potentially lead to loss of clients because of employee issues and the loss of the company reputation.
Substance Abuse is not just use of street drugs. Excessive use of alcohol both while at work and prior to coming to work is also a potential area of concern. An often hidden area of Substance Abuse is use of prescription medications. Many employees have legitimate reasons to need prescription pain medications and some may have prescriptions from a healthcare provider. However some of these employees self medicate beyond what is necessary. The results are employees who are under the influence of street drugs, prescription medications or alcohol while in the workplace, on the road or at client locations. All of these situations create potential liability to the organization.
Some employees may feel they can still function while partially impaired, but are they really functioning at their peak level? There is no way to tell. However, if an employee is under the influence of a substance which can affect their ability to perform, they or someone else can be hurt or even killed by their inattentiveness or not being fully aware of their environment. What would you do if you received a call that an employee was in an automobile accident that hurt or killed another person, while working? Would you have liability? The answer would be yes.
Another potential liability for organizations is if an employee who is at a client location, starts acting in an unacceptable way. Unfortunately, to the client that employee represents the organization and any actions they take can and will reflect on how the client views the organization.
What would you as a business owner do if you received a call from a large client that your representative had acted in an inappropriate manner and the client no longer wanted to use you for their supplier? Could you afford that? Most companies would say no.
Another repercussion of Substance Abuse within an organization is, Abusers tend to like to use with others. If there is one person found to be using controlled substances in an organization, there are likely a number of others, who have not been caught. It can spread like a cancer.
What can you as a business owner do? The best answer is to have a Substance Abuse Policy created, implemented and applied uniformly across the board. This may not stop all substance abusers but it will definitely make all employees aware that the organization is aware of the issue and is taking steps to prevent Substance Abuse.
The Policy should include Pre-Employment Testing, Reasonable Suspicion Testing, Post Employee Injury and Accident Testing and even Random Testing. Additionally, all Supervisory personnel should be trained in the warning signs of how to detect potential Substance Abuse. All employees should also be trained in the dangers of Substance Abuse.
The HR Professionals at HR FOR HIRE have been handling Substance Abuse Programs for over 25 years. In the case of Substance Abuse putting a strong policy in place and communicating to all employees that the use of substances that can negatively affect performance will not be tolerated, is the first step in making sure employees are not under the influence while at work.