Drug & Alcohol Testing Policy – The cost of not having one

Investing in a robust drug and alcohol testing policy in the workplace has several advantages. In short: It can save money.

Increasing our understanding of the implications of drug and alcohol misuse in the workplace is an important part of developing a robust and cost effective strategy for addressing the issues it can bring about. Early detection of any issues can also prevent more serious problems developing and save on mounting costs in the long term.

What are the benefits in investing in one?

  • Days off
    Employers who implement an effective policy could save significantly, with individuals not affected by drugs and alcohol less likely to take time off sick.
  • Productivity
    An effective drug and alcohol policy could increase productivity and improve job performance by around a third, with research by the US National Institute for Drug Abuse showing employees on drugs to be just two thirds as productive as their colleagues.
  • Staff turnover
    A strong policy means a saving on the cost of recruiting and training new employees to replace those who have left, as well as a reduction on the high costs of temporary staff cover.
  • Staff management costs
    Long term, a better policy and a happier, healthier workforce means reductions in staff management costs and hidden costs such as theft from the company, health related costs and higher insurance.
  • Improved team morale
    The knock-on effects of drug and alcohol misuse can impact the wellbeing and productivity of a whole team, with a successful programme leading to increased morale.
  • Potential lawsuits
    With a reduction in accidents and costly compensation claims, businesses can save significant sums.
  • Reputation
    You can’t put a price on a company’s reputation. Enhancing the public perception of a business as a responsible and caring employer is one of the benefits of having a carefully thought-through policy in place.

Lessons from the pasts

Drug and alcohol misuse in the workplace is not a new phenomenon, but the implementation of policies has only become more commonplace in the past 25 years. The safety critical industries such as oil and gas, transport and logistics, for example, have a legal obligation to ensure staff never work under the influence of drugs or alcohol with mandatory testing introduced in the 80s and 90s.

Seeing the workplace as a preventative place for tackling drug and
alcohol misuse however, is a relatively new concept. Previously, the
emphasis was often placed on extreme drug and alcohol abuse with
services targeted in the key problem areas. Yet in the past ten years the focus has shifted, with the workplace viewed as a place where potential problems can be addressed before they develop into something more serious.

Solutions for employers

Having a drug and alcohol policy that includes
a balance of education and awareness, coupled with unannounced random testing, can offer an effective solution to safeguard against liability, reduce costs and ensure safety is also maintained.

In conclusion

Where drug and alcohol misuse is concerned, there are a wide range of factors which can have a direct effect on your business’ bottom line. The inappropriate use of drugs and alcohol can also have a detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of employees as well as affecting their personal and working lives. Whilst every business and every situation is different,
risks including safety, absenteeism and productivity, have the potential to impact the individual, other employees, the business and public. Having a detailed drug and alcohol policy in place will help to ensure all employees are aware of the risks, consequences and legal costs of their actions. Ultimately, ensuring people are fit and safe to work is a priority for
any business. Safety, performance and productivity are key–investing now to help manage the risks can have significant benefits in the long term.

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