How to Ensure a Drug-Free Workplace

Do you have employees who party hard after work and then call in sick the next day? Has their chronic absenteeism caused you to lose clients?

Every year, companies lose more than $80 billion due to employee substance abuse. That figure includes unplanned sick days, employee turnover, and higher health insurance premiums. 

If you’re thinking about instituting a drug-free workplace policy, this article’s for you. We’ll help you find the easiest way to remove alcohol and drugs from your company.

Common Signs of Employee Drug Use

The first step to creating a drug-free environment is to do an audit of your employees’ absenteeism.

Are there a few employees who call in sick at an elevated rate? Does it seem like they can’t get through a week without taking a personal day?

Absenteeism is one common sign of substance abuse. Here are more signs that might mean that you have a problem on your hands:

  • Borrowing money. Drugs like heroin are cheap and easy to obtain. A $50 per day drug habit, however, costs a total of $1,500 per month. If you have an employee who is always dead broke and asking for loans, you may want to screen them for drugs. 
  • Being unproductive. There’s one person in every office who shows up to work no matter how hungover they are. They don’t do much work but they pretend to be functional. That’s presenteeism. On the surface, it seems like a good move but it just alienates their co-workers.
  • Taking unscheduled breaks. Is there someone in your office who takes more than five breaks per day? Do they use the restroom at least once per hour? While they may have a medical reason for using the restroom so often, they could also be ducking in to take illegal drugs. 
  • Changing their attitudes. They’re not doing it intentionally, but drug abusers often get angry at the drop of a hat. One reason could be that they’re craving alcohol or drugs. Irritability inevitably leads to lower productivity and loss of momentum.

How to Implement a Drug-Free Workplace Policy

If you’ve decided that you need a workplace drug policy, you should do a few things. First, create a written notice for your employees.

Give each person their own notice and make sure it’s also on public display. You don’t want people telling you later that they didn’t know about the policy change. 

Next, take the time to invest in training for your supervisors. They need to learn how to spot the signs of drug abuse. They also need to know how to talk to employees about mental health and drug addiction.

If you’re going to start a drug-free workplace policy, it’s important to make one decision before you start. If an employee tests positive for drugs, will you fire them right away? 

Or will you give them a chance to get treatment? You don’t want to lose team members, but it may be better to cut your losses and replace people who test positive for drugs. 

Another decision to make is which company you’ll use to manage your drug testing. Look for a company like that uses HHS and SAMSHA certified laboratories. 

You’ll also need to be able to order custom drug tests and have a medical review officer review all of your results. 

What Type of Drug Testing Is Best?

Even if you don’t suspect drug use in your supervisors or admin team, it’s a good policy to test them anyway. You might be surprised at the results.

Before you can run your tests, however, you’ll need to decide which type of drug test you’d like to use. 

There are several types of drug screens available including: 

  • urine 
  • breath alcohol
  • breath saliva
  • hair 

The benefit of uring testing is that you can get instant results, then send the samples to the lab for confirmation. Breath alcohol also gives you an instant result. 

Hair testing, on the other hand, allows you to get a picture of drug use stretching back as far as three months. It will catch habitual drug use that urine and saliva tests will miss. 

As far as the frequency of drug testing, you have several options. You can do it once per year, after an accident, or before hiring a new employee. 

You can also do random drug screens if you suspect that an employee has a substance abuse problem.

Do You Need a Lawyer Before You Drug Test?

State laws vary regarding testing for marijuana, so you might want to talk to a lawyer as you develop your drug-free plan.

They will help you make sure that you’re not accidentally violating your employees’ rights or firing people for smoking marijuana outside of office hours.

The same precaution holds for legal prescription medication use. You don’t want to fire someone for taking pain medication.

A lawyer will also help you narrow down your policy on a failed drug test. Will you offer your employees a chance to get treatment or will you fire them right away?

If two employees test positive for drugs and you only fire one, you’re putting yourself at risk for a lawsuit. The most important part of any drug-free policy is consistency.  

Pro Tips on Creating a Supportive Work Environment

Give yourself time to develop a drug-free workplace and consider offering an employee helpline for people who would like to get treatment. 

If your team routinely goes out for drinks after work, suggest going to a coffee shop instead. Bring the focus away from alcohol and put it on team bonding. 

Another way to create a positive company culture is to volunteer as a team. Take half a workday each month and volunteer in your community. Just make sure you do it during the week so people don’t have to sacrifice their weekend plans!

Now that you know about drug testing, come check out our other blogs! We are excited to offer you articles on everything from workplace safety to advertising!

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