Employee Prevention: How Can I Tackle Workplace Addiction?

Workplace addiction can be reduced and prevented through a comprehensive approach that relies on both employees and management being active. There are initiatives that you can put into place that will encourage and promote a substance free and less stressful work environment.

Employee prevention is a comprehensive model that involves reducing workplace stress, developing your employees personally and professional as well as educating them on healthy ways to prevent addiction.

Reducing Workplace Stress

In 2014 researchers found 440,000 documented incidents of workplace stress, depression and anxiety, which all are factors that can contribute addiction. These work induced stress incidents were only the ones recorded. It could be possible the number is much larger. As HR, here are some ways you can work towards reducing stress in the workplace.

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Workshops – Workshops for employee's do not have to talk long, and could be beneficial. A lot of people who are stressed and/or struggling with addiction may not be aware of healthy coping skills. Workshops that discuss physical and mental wellness can go a long way at preventing addiction. Workshops on time management and other operations relevant to your industry might help make day-to-day operations smoother, in turn, reducing the likelihood of stress and addiction at work.

Communication – As HR it may be helpful to take the time and talk with your employees about their job and work relationships. Some people could use drugs or alcohol because they have a bad relationship with a coworker or boss. Effective communication can clear up confusion and misunderstandings between employees. Communication may help reduce confusion and mistakes on projects. When someone makes a mistake at work, they might stress over it until the point of drinking or using drugs. Clear lines of communication and making sure your employees are happy could help reduce workplace addiction.

Create a Relaxed Environment – In order to create a relaxed environment at the workplace, company goals might be good to meet. If the company is producing at a good level, stress and addiction can be less likely to rear their ugly heads. To assure company goals are met you may wish to see to it everyone on the team has what they need to get things done. Taking the time to encourage healthy or fun conversation can be another way to create a relaxed workplace. Some may find it beneficial to hold a company party or fun group activities to create a positive bond.

Professional Self Development

Addiction in the workplace can be reduced by taking the time to develop your employees on a personal and professional level. Some people might not be aware of healthy outlets for dealing with stress, for this reason, addiction rates could be higher if your employees are stressed. Other people may need help developing on a professional level, lack of confidence in their position or abilities could also lead an employee to the bottle or drug.

Professional Development – Talking to your employee's about their overall happiness with the job can help create a bond and trust with you and your employee. When you take the time to show them you care in their career and professional development, they may be inspired to become better workers. Some people might use because of their work performance and overall opinion on their professional selves.

You can help employees work on things like mannerisms, communication skills and even time management or other performance skills.

Personal Development – Would you feel better about yourself if you knew your boss genuinely cared about you? People might use drugs or alcohol because of their direct relationship with their boss, this is also the number one reason an employee could leave their job. Consider taking the time to talk and get to know your employees on a more personal level. Building these relationships may  boost your employee's confidence. When employees have low confidence or are struggling with issues outside of work, they can be more likely to use drugs or alcohol.

Employee  Prevention: Education and Awareness

To help prevent addiction it might help to have a clear stance on what is and is not acceptable as far as drug use or alcohol in the workplace. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in America as well as marijuana legalization. When your employees are aware a clear stance on substance abuse exists, they could be less likely to use drugs or alcohol at work.

Workshops on addiction, the causes of addiction as well as addiction prevention, can be a great educational tactic. Perhaps, holding brief meetings with your employee's about causes of addiction, triggers and coping skills might prevent addiction from arising at work. It may be helpful to gather and provide information on sobriety support groups located in your community.

Developing a Substance Abuse Policy

Having a substance abuse policy that is clearly communicated to your employees can help in preventing addiction in the workplace. If you are revamping your overall approach to preventing workplace addiction, it could be helpful to hold a meeting about this. During the meeting you may remind or inform your employees about the new policies and plans for preventing addiction.

Although policies variate from industry to industry there could be some general recommendations to consider when drafting your substance abuse policy.

  • A clear definition of substance abuse, what will and will not be tolerated. This may need clarification because of narcotic prescription drugs and the issue of marijuana legalization in America
  • Provide a clear purpose of the policy for employees to understand. If they understand the reason and benefits of the policy they could be more inclined to follow
  • State how your company complies with state and federal legislation on employee rights, privacy and confidentiality
  • A clear explanation of consequences to those who might violate this policy
  • If you wish to drug test your employee's, consider providing a clear explanation of the testing procedures and consequences of failing a test.

Preventing Employee Addiction is a Marathon Not a Sprint

Developing a comprehensive plan for employee addiction prevention can seem like a daunting task. If you put a plan in motion towards reducing workplace stress, you might be one step closer to ending addiction. Perhaps, educate your employees on addiction, company policies as well as the values of health and wellness. Maybe, take the time to develop your employees on a professional and personal level. These initiatives may not end all substance abuse in your workplace, but can help towards reducing the cases and changing the culture of your company.