Substance use as a coping mechanism is a growing problem within the workplace, with as many as one in five businesses and organisations being negatively impacted.
Nearly 10 million employees have misused drugs along with almost 20 million working days are lost or affected by alcohol abuse this year alone.
Of course, we know these behaviours can be destructive, but how do they directly affect the workplace, and what can you, the employer, do to help?
Drug abuse, including alcohol, is one of the main causes of employee absence, workplace accidents, and most importantly, productivity and poor working relationships.
An employee with a drinking or drug addiction/problem can often have poor working performance, with the lack of ability to make decisions, meaning their work may often be late, below average with errors or even incomplete.
Employee relationships commonly take a fall when it comes to employees with such issues, as some of these addictions can cause the person to display inappropriate behaviour and hinders their communication and participation.
This can damage the relationship of the employees and inevitably affects the running of the business, if colleagues struggle to work together and collaborate, down to the behaviour and communication of a struggling co-worker.
Why do workers turn to alcohol and drugs?
There is a multitude of reasons why a person might turn to substance use, usually to help them cope with a situation or problem within their life.
While these issues may be more deep-rooted than it seems especially if they are already struggling with mental health problems.
Many things within the workplace can add to this need for a ‘release’ through substances, some common business-related reasons may be;
- Job pressure/stress
- Worries about career path/development
- Financial struggle
How can employers help?
It is important that when dealing with drug and alcohol abuse in a workplace you take a helpful and productive approach, after all, there are HSE laws on how to go about this problem and protection against employees in this situation.
Employees should not be made to feel ashamed
It is important that these issues are dealt with privately and professionally. See this rehab guide for employers to see how you can best go about the situation.
It is important that there are policies in place in order to protect both the staff and the employer, this way everyone can be sure that they are made to feel safe and accounted for.
Developing more awareness in the workplace is just one thing that can be done to help everyone identify the signs of substance abuse or alcoholism so that action can be taken to help improve the situation for both you and your business but your employees too.