A workplace alcohol and drug policy is as much as about raising awareness and educating employees as it is about establishing guidelines, rules and procedures. Sometimes employees view alcohol and drug policies and drug testing as formalized documents that allow employers to play ‘gotcha’. This leads to worker resistance, low morale, incessant complaining, and even lawsuits, when the real purpose of the policies and procedures is to create a safe and healthy working environment. How the workplace drug and alcohol policy and testing program is framed and presented has a big influence on how well it is accepted. Employers who present their programs in a positive light can promote greater employee acceptance and support and promote a productive workplace culture.
Psychologists have determined that employee morale significantly influences workplace outcomes. The four major key cultural elements creating a foundation for positive employee moral are clarity, learning, engagement, and empathy. Within each of these elements are activities that determine the quality of the workplace environment. Workplace cultures that are the most motivating are built on leadership that sets clear goals and expectations (clarity); provides feedback, development and coaching (learning); empowers employees and develops teamwork (engagement); and provides support and role modelling (empathy).1
Health, Safety and Well-Being of Workers
All of these factors can lead to positive outcomes because they encourage employees to be participative and take responsibility for their actions. Drug and alcohol testing programs can be presented in a negative or positive way. For example, if the employer presents the random testing program as an important means of developing a healthy and safe workplace, employees are more likely to internalize the positive aspects. Strong leadership that presents alcohol and drug policies and testing programs as a positive method of ensuring each employee’s safety rather than as a basis for termination, worker concerns about its ultimate goals are eliminated.
Employees will ideally view drug and alcohol testing as a means of identifying workers posing a safety risk in the workplace. However, they should also view it as a way to identify those co-workers who need assistance. Anyone using drugs and alcohol in the workplace is probably addicted at some level and experiencing a lot of turmoil in their lives. That turmoil may be due to family problems, money concerns, work problems, or the problems associated with addiction itself. When the drug and alcohol policies are presented as safety and health policies, they become one component of an organisational effort to protect workers and develop a workplace safety culture. When workers view drug and alcohol testing as a positive activity that provides personal protection, they are more likely to accept personal responsibility for their own behaviours.2
Business Teams Must Work Together
Though employees must accept responsibility for their actions in the workplace, employers have responsibilities also. One of those responsibilities is ensuring that all workers are aware of the policies and procedures. This also promotes positive attitudes because everyone is informed and embraced as a member of the business team. Over time, the policy and procedures need to be regularly revisited to determine they are producing anticipated outcomes. If there are high rates of drug use or alcohol abuse, then clearly the education and awareness program is not working.
Mediscreen (mediscreen.net.au/) offers 24-hour drug and alcohol screening services to Australian employers. The ability to serve employers in any location means the program policies and testing program can be implemented in any area desired.
This article has been taken from http://mediscreen.net.au/articles/?p=2075