While toxic workplaces don’t necessarily point to drug misuse, drugs and alcohol are often contributing factors.
Their use is undeniably damaging to businesses. According to the NCADD, employees who drink excessively are nearly three times more likely to suffer injury-related absences than their sober colleagues. Increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, poor health and safety and, ultimately, loss of profits are the net effects of substance misuse within organisations.
What can you do to build a culture of positive workplace behaviour and eradicate drugs and alcohol from your organisation?
Leading from the front
Business leaders who demonstrate their commitment to a positive, fair work environment and zero-tolerance attitude to toxic behaviour are more likely to impress these traits on their employees.
After all, everyone benefits from a better workplace culture. For employees, an aggressive or hostile work environment can lead to poor productivity or resignation and, at worst, to feelings of depression and anxiety, as confirmed by a recent UK study on re-employment. Research has also found that people who went from being unemployed to working in a poor quality environment had more stress markers than those who remained unemployed.
Better behaviour can even be an employee benefit. According to the 2015 State of Inbound Report, European employees looking for a new job prioritise workplace culture ahead of compensation and perks like childcare and tuition.
Setting the foundations
One way to demonstrate a positive work culture is to set a clear and unambiguous Substance and Alcohol Misuse Policy (SAMP). Having one in place can have a knock-on effect on other types of associated behaviours, acting as an effective way of letting employees know what is and isn’t permissible. The consequences of breaking the rules or failing a drugs test must be clearly stipulated. This lets everyone know where they stand and establishes a company ethos for everyone to adhere to.
Once you have this in place, you can implement a Programme of Testing (POT) based on the specifics of your SAMP.
This doesn’t mean testing every employee that comes into the business. But if employees’ behaviour is fuelled by drug and alcohol misuse, then testing can form part of the investigative procedures. The other benefit of a SAMP is that you set the parameters. The results of a positive test may indicate a deeper problem for the employee, and you can encourage them to get the treatment they need. Often, as we’ve said before, drugs or alcohol aren’t the problem; behaviour is.
In that vein, it is important that employers are supportive when a problem does arise. Showing compassion and empathy are important, but leaders should consider offering comprehensive health plans, wellness programs, and employee assistance programs that open the doors for counselling, treatment and education.
Such a comprehensive framework will not be simple or cheap to implement, but knowing that systems are in place to help the people who most need it will contribute to the development of a positive and successful workforce.
The positive impact of zero-tolerance policies
Workplace drug testing is an emotive subject, but setting clear parameters and expectations, articulating them to the team and citing the reasons for implementing the programme can all contribute to a healthier work environment for teams; one not based on mistrust and suspicion but of doing the right thing by them.
Substance misuse isn’t always the cause of a toxic workplace, but can exacerbate and fuel behaviour which ultimately destroys individuals and businesses. Some might feel pressured into taking drugs, while others may feel victimised as a result of it. The end product is all too often a dysfunctional culture which leads to increased risks, loss of profits and long-lasting damage to the corporate reputation.
By implementing a SAMP and setting a clear manifesto for your company, it’s possible to lead your organisation to a culture you can be proud of.
For more information on setting your SAMP and POT, read our blog, here.
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