We all know that drug and alcohol take a toll on workplaces with employees who use or abuse them, but do you know to what extent? An article written by James A. Pitts for Business Insider Australia gives us an idea, and it’s staggering.
Huge costs of alcohol and drug problems
Quoting various studies, Pitts enumerates the hidden costs of drug and alcohol problems in Australian workplaces. For example, the cost of absenteeism, one of the signs an employee may be suffering from drug and alcohol problems, was pegged at $1.2 billion annually. If that isn’t bad enough, he cites other studies that reveal alcohol use is responsible for up to 11 per cent of non-fatal workplace injuries and 5 per cent of all workplace deaths. Australian society in general, according to leading researchers Collins and Lapsley, loses approximately $23.7 billion annually due to alcohol and illicit drugs misuse.
To reduce the likelihood of these problems and avoid the huge costs that come with them, what can employers do? Initiating drug policy development is a good place to start, but employers have to do more.
Employers need to be more helpful
The immediate reaction to alcohol and drug problems by employers is often the implementation of workplace drug testing, which can be effective as long as it’s done lawfully and without encroaching on workers’ individual rights. However, employers have to do more than that. They need to take a more helpful stance. For one, it is important that they foster a working environment where employees with drug and alcohol problems can feel like they can freely speak up and seek help for their substance problems without being punished for it. This kind of support for employees with drug issues can form part of an organisation’s policy on drugs and alcohol, often done under the wings of an Employee Assistance Program.
Click here to read the article in full.