Imagine dealing with frequent absences during a time when the flu isn’t going around. It could be that an employee seems to have a history of on the job accidents. Perhaps you’ve overheard co-workers talking about certain medication they use to “stay awake” when they need to work extra-long hours. Whatever the case, it’s very possible that substance abuse is impacting your company. Many times, this can bring negative consequences.
How Drug Abuse Affects Productivity
For some companies, drug testing and a drug-free environment is federally mandatory. But when it isn’t, there’s nothing forcing employers to check on their workers’ levels of on-the-job sobriety. Depending on the organization, the rules regarding employee conduct can be rather lax, or suffer from irregular enforcement.
Whether those in charge of these businesses realize it or not, a lack of accountability can lead to an inevitable loss of revenue. According to 12 Keys Rehab, job stress, irregular hours and low satisfaction can lead to an increased likelihood of drug abuse among employees. When employees abuse drugs on the job, it can raise the risk of related injuries. The person may injure themselves, a co-worker or even a customer. In a worst-case scenario, unaddressed drug problems can lead to lawsuits, with the potential to cost your company millions of dollars in damages.
Even if no one is harmed at work, drug use can drain money in other ways. Frequent absences due to drug-related illness can add up to lost productivity. Studies show that people who abuse drugs are more likely than other employees to spend work hours engaged in non-work-related activities. These individuals are also more likely to leave early, sleep on the job or take longer than usual lunch breaks. All of this helps to minimize productivity, and slowly adds up to more loss for your company.
What Substance Abuse is Costing the American Workforce
Official reports show that drug-related issues cost American companies upwards of 120 billion dollars each year. This isn’t just money lost in missed work hours; it also includes injuries, hospital bills and so on.
Drug abuse also costs companies in terms of low morale. In an environment where there is nothing said about drug abuse, other employees work even harder to make up for lost productivity on the part of their co-workers. The low morale may cause work output levels to drop or plateau as employees lose faith in the company’s ability to address the issue. In some cases, it may even result in frustrated workers leaving the office, causing a further loss of revenue: replacing workers is estimated to cost anywhere from 25 to 200 percent of annual compensation.
Overall, there is too little gained from refusing to address substance abuse in the office. To prevent the loss of non-using and reliable employees, and to help those employees struggling with addiction, it’s important to take the necessary steps.
Dealing With Drug-Related Issues
There is guidance available for creating a drug-free environment and dealing with the issue of substance abuse. In cases where substance abuse is widespread or has previously been unaddressed, it may be helpful to begin a policy of random drug tests. Scheduled drug tests may also work, but there is always the possibility that someone abusing drugs or alcohol may use a sample that isn’t their own. Random tests are more likely to produce honest results.
It may also be helpful to make counseling available for employees, or to form a connection with a drug or alcohol treatment center. The more resources and support available for those struggling with drug addiction, the better the projected outcome. A combination of prevention and response can help alleviate the problem with drugs in your workplace. Studies show that dealing with drug abuse in the office can have positive results. Productivity typically improves, as does employee morale.
While it may feel like an awkward or even private issue, substance abuse impacts everyone in the office when it isn’t addressed. To get productivity and positivity in the office back on track, it’s important to take the initiative.