As an employer, you must be aware of the signs and symptoms of substance abuse in your employees. Substance abuse can harm workplace productivity and safety and lead to higher healthcare costs for employers. You must identify any potential problems early to take appropriate action. If you suspect an employee may be abusing drugs or alcohol, there are several steps you should take to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. These include:

6 Things You Can Do If You Suspect Employees Of Substance Abuse
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1. Assess The Situation

The first step in dealing with a suspected employee’s substance abuse problem is to assess the situation. This involves taking a closer look at the individual and determining whether there are any signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use that could affect them. The most common signs and symptoms of substance abuse include:

●      Slurred speech or impaired coordination

●      Failing to meet deadlines or exhibiting poor judgment in their work

●      Changes in mood or behavior, such as increased irritability, mood swings, or unexplained emotional outbursts

●      Frequent absences from work or decreased productivity when at work

When assessing the situation, employers must remain non-judgmental while being firm and clear about workplace safety and productivity expectations. Employers should consider any personal issues that an employee might face and their work history before making assumptions about potential substance abuse problems.

2. Conduct Drug Tests

Drug tests are critical to identifying and addressing potential substance abuse issues within the workplace. Drug tests are an effective way to assess whether employees may be using drugs or alcohol and determine if any substances they have used have impacted their ability to perform at work. Employers can use the 10-panel drug test, which tests for a wide range of commonly abused substances, including opioids, amphetamines, and cocaine. Drug tests should be conducted as part of the normal pre-employment screening process for all potential employees.

When conducting drug tests, employers should ensure that they comply with applicable laws and regulations while protecting employee privacy rights. For example, employers must have a clear and well-documented drug testing policy outlining the types of tests that will be conducted and the circumstances under which they can be performed. In addition, it is also a good idea to consult with an attorney or other legal professional specializing in labor law to ensure you are following all relevant state and federal laws regarding drug testing.

3. Talk To The Employee

Once you have assessed the situation and determined that an employee may be abusing drugs or alcohol, you must discuss your concerns with them directly. This can be a sensitive conversation, but you must approach the situation in a non-confrontational manner to avoid defensiveness or denial.

6 Things You Can Do If You Suspect Employees Of Substance Abuse
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Try to approach the conversation in a private setting, one-on-one, or a meeting with colleagues. Begin by expressing your concerns in a non-accusatory manner, focusing on the facts and how their behavior or performance may affect the workplace. For example, you might say, “I’m concerned about your recent absences from work and notes in your file about missed deadlines. Can you tell me what may be going on?”

Suppose the employee denies any substance abuse issues. In that case, it is important to remain firm, reiterating that their behavior or performance at work is affecting the business and needs to be addressed. However, if they admit to having a substance abuse problem, it is vital to continue the conversation to determine the best action.

4. Offer Employee Assistance Programs

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are an important tool for employers to help their employees cope with substance abuse issues. EAPs provide confidential counseling and other services for individuals struggling with addiction, mental health issues, or any other personal challenges affecting their work performance. Providing access to professional counselors and resources such as support groups and referral services, EAPs can help employees get the help they need while protecting the employer’s interests.

Employers may consider offering participation in EAPs as a condition for continued employment with the company. This can effectively encourage employees struggling with substance abuse issues to get the help they need without jeopardizing their job security or income. However, employers must ensure that any conditions related to participation in EAPs are communicated and made part of the employee’s written employment contract.

5. Perform Regular Check-Ins

Regular check-ins with employees can be an essential tool for employers to help prevent and identify substance abuse issues in the workplace. By regularly checking in with their staff, employers can identify and address potential problems early on. Regular check-ins also provide a valuable opportunity for supervisors to build relationships with their employees, promote open communication between the two parties, and create a culture of trust within the workplace.

Regular check-ins should occur monthly, quarterly, or annually depending on the needs of the business. These check-ins should include a brief discussion of the employee’s performance and any issues that have been observed or reported. Supervisors can also use these meetings to identify any stressors or challenges affecting an employee’s work performance and provide support and resources to help them cope.

6. Implement A Substance Abuse Policy

Employers need to have a clear and comprehensive substance abuse policy in place. A good substance abuse policy should clearly define unacceptable behavior or performance due to drug or alcohol use in the workplace. This could include coming into work under the influence, taking drugs at work, being impaired while performing job duties, or having excessive absences due to intoxication or hangovers. The policy should also detail any disciplinary action that may be taken if these behaviors occur.

It is vital that this disciplinary action is consistent with other policies within your organization and follows local laws regarding termination of employment based on drug use. Additionally, it should be communicated clearly with all employees, so they understand exactly what will happen if they violate company rules related to drug or alcohol use in the workplace.

It is essential for employers to tactfully and sensitively address drug or alcohol misuse by an employee. Establishing a dialogue with your staff, providing assistance, and offering resources can help the individual get much-needed support while also protecting your business interests. By taking proactive measures to identify and address substance abuse issues in the workplace, employers can help ensure a safe and productive work environment for all their employees.

Featured image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay.

Published by Mike

Avid tech enthusiast, gadget lover, marketing critic and most importantly, love to reason and talk.