The modern workplace is a more delicate environment than ever before. High labour turnovers, more detailed insurance policies, and office politics can all create a sense that businesses have to work harder to create a successful balance. One way of keeping the workplace functioning effectively is to better consider the health and wellbeing of employees, and one way of doing that is through the implementation of a drug-free workplace policy.
In this piece, we are going to set out some of the most advantageous benefits of a drug-free workplace policy.
Improved Health and Safety
A remarkable statistic in the USA is that one in six workplace deaths, and a quarter of workplace injuries, come as the result of drug or alcohol use. These sorts of figures are unacceptable, so a workplace policy that forbids the use of drugs or alcohol at work, as well as drug use outside of work, will work towards reducing the number of injuries and incidents. Remember, it’s not only the drug user who is exposed to injury but everyone else around them as well - this is a risk you can’t afford to take.
A drug-free workplace policy can be implemented quickly and easily
The first step is to work with the legal department to decide on the terms of the policy change, before putting them into writing. Next, HR and Management must work together to decide on the most effective way of communicating this policy change. One method is to host training and workshops, another is to send emails and have a meeting, and another is to send an updated version of the employee handbook and ask for written confirmation that staff have read it.
The change of policy can happen overnight, so if your business has no drugs policy right now, you can draw one up today and begin the culture change tomorrow. Clear rules and consequences must be set out and communicated to every single member of staff so that they aware of their responsibilities.
There are three levels of strictness in regards to embedding a drug-free workplace policy, they are:
- The no-brainer. The prohibition of use, possession, or sale of legal and illicit drugs and alcohol or prescription medication (without a prescription) in the workplace or whilst on duty.
- Safety and reputation. The prohibition of use, possession, or sale of legal and illicit drugs and alcohol even when off-duty, if this will affect performance or safety, or will put the reputation of the company at risk.
- Zero tolerance. The prohibition of being impaired or under the influence of legal, illicit drugs, or alcohol even when off-duty.
Productivity will go up
There’s a natural correlation between people who abuse drugs and alcohol and people who don’t show up for work. Whilst a lot of people might have called in ‘sick’ on a hangover at some point in the past, becoming a repeat offender makes a member of staff a liability to the company and puts their job at risk. Holding employees accountable for their actions is important and so a drug-free workplace policy can help to improve the reliability and dedication of the teams and thus improve overall productivity. As well as absenteeism, substance use and abuse also often results in lateness, tiredness, and poor performance.
Lower insurance premiums and compensation payouts
It has been found that substance users are as much as five times more likely to file compensation claims in the workplace. As a result, these employees are found to cost employers twice as much in compensation and medical expenses compared to their colleagues.
As a response to introducing a drug-free workplace policy, you can reduce the number of accidents and incidents, thus reducing the number of claims. Business insurance companies also look favourably on companies who have implemented a drug-free workplace policy and may be inclined to reduce insurance premiums as a result.
Shows you care about your staff
Management and employees work best when there are healthy relationships, reciprocal respect and professional care is taken. A drug-free workplace policy is a great way to develop those relationships and show your employees that you are taking an active interest in their health, safety, and working environment. Consider that the earlier a problem is spotted and solved, the better it is for all parties involved.
As you consider implementing this policy change, think about the most tactful and supportive way to do it, which would be to set aside some resources to support those who may be abusing substances rather than instantly sack them. You, as the employer, can also provide confidential support, recommend treatment centres, and introduce a workplace program that seeks to improve the quality of life of your employees. There’s also the opportunity to hire a trained professional, or to send a member of staff on an educational course so that your workplace does have a qualified support mechanism in place.
This policy change should not be treated as a punishment or some totalitarian decision to control staff, but rather should be introduced as a collective decision for improved health and education. There should be some carefully thought out explanations for the policy, mentioning that the bottom line of the company affects everyone and that profits keep the business going and keep people in their jobs.
Why the benefits all add up to the same conclusion
A drug-free workplace policy can mean the difference between winning and losing contracts, it’s simple risk aversion, it’s great for your insurance and compensation payouts, it’s great for health and safety, and it’s beneficial for the reputation of your company.
To find out more how DNA legal can help you implement a drug and alcohol testing program at your workplace, visit our dedicated workplace drug and alcohol testing page.