Pop quiz: You’re on a road trip. Would you hand the keys over to someone who can’t drive? Of course not.
Now consider your company’s policies on alcohol and other drugs (AOD) in the workplace. Then ask yourself these important questions: 1) Who’s at the wheel?, 2) How well do they drive?, and 3) How can they get better?
Only you can answer the first two questions, but the third is something we’re glad to share with you. Read on and discover how alcohol and drug training can help your leaders steer your business towards the path to success.
Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace
Substance abuse in the workplace can become a major obstacle to your company’s success. It can compromise your sustainability and productivity. It can also threaten the safety of your employees and customers.
According to the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), each year Australia incurs an estimated:
- $6 billion in lost productivity due to alcohol,
- $2 billion in absenteeism due to alcohol, and
- $1 billion in absenteeism due to drug use.
In a recent study, NCETA also found that a company’s working environment has the potential to either prevent or worsen AOD use and/or abuse in the workplace.
Let’s talk more about that later. For now, consider this…
With so much at stake, what can you do?
1. Keep Your AOD Roadmap Handy
The road to success can be a bumpy ride. You’re bound to encounter sharp turns, blind spots, and barriers along the way. Alcohol and drug use in the workplace can complicate your journey all the more.
But that’s where your AOD policy guidelines come in. The more comprehensive your policies are, the easier it will be for your company to navigate through trickier terrain.
2. Invest in Alcohol and Drug Training
However, your company’s AOD policies are only as strong as the people tasked with enforcing them.
Even the most well-written drug and alcohol policies won’t amount to much when left in the hands of people who don’t know what to do with them. In fact, that’s just as bad as having absolutely no policies at all.
Though your HR, managers, and supervisors are proficient in their respective fields, they are likely not experts (let’s hope!) in illicit drugs. Yet they bear the responsibility of maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.
That’s a lot to ask. What’s more, it’s downright irresponsible to assign that big of a job to people who may not be sufficiently prepared for it. And all on top of their regular work!
Remember our three questions at the start of this article? You have to think of who your designated AOD drivers are, their current skill level, and their improvement plan.
You need drivers specifically trained to understand AOD. Only then can they interpret your AOD roadmap effectively, fairly, and consistently.
Initial alcohol and drug training will equip your drivers with some skills to handle the task.
3. Make Upskilling a Habit
But training is never a one-shot deal. Whether we’re talking multiplication tables, dance steps, or even card tricks, people need constant repetition to make things stick.
Your AOD managers will require even more periodic AOD re-training to help them master their new skills. That’s how they’ll become full-fledged advocates and enforcers of your AOD policies.
Continual training workshops will keep your supervisors updated on matters concerning illicit drugs. These may include new drugs in the market, newly discovered risk factors, and even breakthroughs in testing and intervention.
All in all, alcohol and drug training programs will put your designated AOD drivers in a better position to identify factors that may lead to drug and alcohol abuse.
What are the benefits of alcohol and drug training?
They say knowledge is power. And the NCETA study mentioned above, which involved 100 supervisors who undertook AOD training, seems to prove this adage.
According to the study, NCETA researchers found that the subjects were able to proactively change their workplace environment for the better.
Alcohol and Drug Training for Managers
AOD training for managers is an example of a top-down approach. The NCETA study found that this approach trained managers to be more effective AOD enforcers.
During training, the managers discovered the correlation between a company’s environment and alcohol and drug use in the workplace.
Logically enough, when a professional environment is less stressful, its workers are happier. This means they’re less likely to turn to illicit substances.
And of course, employees steeped in more toxic work cultures are far unhappier. This means they’re more likely to use alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms.
Armed with this realization, plus their newly acquired knowledge and tools, the managers became more adept at:
- spotting the signs and symptoms of addiction
- identifying workplace stressors (e.g. bullying, which can be a precursor to substance abuse)
- promoting positive habits and behaviours
- reducing workplace risks and discouraging unhealthy habits
As a result, the NCETA study found that the managers were able to effectively improve work conditions and anticipate AOD triggers in their respective companies.
The Best Balance: AOD Training Across the Board
Clearly, specialised AOD training empowers managers to maintain a drug-free environment.
This kind of deeper dive is best suited for business owners, top management, HR staff, security officers, and other supervisors who can take their turn at the driver’s seat.
Prof. Ann Roche, NCETA Director, says companies will benefit from a wider and more periodic implementation of the top-down approach. However, it is especially advised for industries with high rates of illicit drug use.
NCETA likewise emphasises the value of AOD training for rank and file. In fact, Prof. Roche recommends using an enhanced method which combines the top-down and bottom-up approaches.
She says that complementing supervisor training with employee drug awareness training will make a company better equipped to tackle AOD problems head on. And companies would do well to roll out regular AOD training programs to keep everyone well informed and on their toes, she further reiterates.
Expect your company’s road to success to be rocky. At times, it may even seem to be perpetually under construction.
Nevertheless, if you have a group of well-trained and capable drivers at the wheel, your journey may still become a joyride most of the way.
Drug Education and Awareness Programs in Australia
At SafeWork Laboratories, our skilled and knowledgeable team provides drug education and awareness programs to businesses all over Australia. We offer the following:
- Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) workshops
- Fit for work assessment
- Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Committee Consultation
- ASQA Certified Tester Training
We tailor our programs to meet the unique needs of your business. This also includes review and advice on how to implement an effective AOD policy.
Use the following link to find out more about our Drugs at the Workplace Safety Training, Education & Awareness Programs.
If you have any questions about our programs or how we can help your business, contact us any time.