Human resource professionals need to be well-equipped to address addiction and other related issues, so they can prevent avoidable expenses and safeguard their greatest asset – their employees. Providing educational resources on substance abuse and knowing what resources are available can help your employees get through these issues, become better workers, and live healthier professional and personal lives. Dealing with drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace can be a sensitive topic, but drug and alcohol-related problems can have a negative impact on business in many areas and should not be ignored.

Here are some tools to make sure that your organization has a solid set of guidelines regarding alcohol and drug abuse:

Maintain a Safe Environment

The alcohol and drug policy should state which substances are prohibited and the expectations about employee behavior. Set specific expectations as to when alcohol and drug testing can be expected and the disciplinary action if the employee fails a drug screening test. The safety of your organization’s employees is your number one priority. Finally, continue to educate employees about drug use in the workplace in safety meetings.

Understand the Drug-Free Policy

Employees should receive training to ensure that they understand the policy and the consequences if the policy is violated. As an HR professional, it is important to stay current on all policies and procedures related to drug use in the workplace. Also, make sure that all members of the leadership team are well versed in the policies related to alcohol and drug abuse.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

When onboarding an employee, have the drug-free workplace policy outlined in the employee handbook. Ensure that your organization has an “open-door” policy keeping all the information that an employee discloses in confidence. Utilize EAP or (Employee Assistance Programs) so that the employee has a resource that can provide additional information to assist in times of need. An EAP program can offer employees better levels of care and offer an expanded level of resources.

Consult with your legal department to be certain that the policy is compliant with state and federal guidelines. The impact of alcohol and drug-related issues can make a significant impact on an organization. Knowing all the resources that are available is useful and a step in the right direction. Supporting employees in your organization during a difficult time rather than harsh criticism is the difference between seeing an employee that is motivated to succeed versus an employee that is discouraged and may be hindered in achieving their goals. The result is improved employee morale and enhanced productivity.


References: Elements Behavioral Health, Inc, Biz Filings, NOLO