Business owners have a legal duty to protect the welfare and health of their employees. Addiction is often a difficult and daunting issue to discuss, but business owners should be ready to approach this issue consistently. Keep reading below to find out all you need to know about supporting an employee through addiction:
Approaching another person about a drug or alcohol addiction can be daunting for anyone. But, whether they’re your friend, a family member, colleague or employee it’s important to address the problem quickly. These steps will make the process of dealing with drug or alcohol addiction easier on both your employee and your business:
- Early recognition is key – all business owners should be able to spot the signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol dependence
- Know that addiction is a disease – don’t judge your employee for having an addiction. They don’t have an addiction because of a lack of willpower or moral weakness.
- Intervene early – the quicker you help your employee find the support they need the better. Getting help for addiction early can help save an employee’s career, health and family.
- Persuasion – business owners should take a caring approach towards their employees. Talk to your employee about your worries or concerns, but expect them to be defensive.
- Be factual – tell your employee that you’ve noticed signs of alcohol or drug dependence, e.g. I can smell alcohol on your breath.
- Use leverage if necessary – some employees may not be ready to deal with their addiction, but this doesn’t mean you should give up on encouraging them to get help. You may have to persuade them to get help by telling them that their job depends on their ability to overcome their problems. But, make sure you re-assure them that you will support them along the way.
- Find support – business owners should gather information about the different rehab clinics or other professional organizations who can help.
- Don’t blame yourself – many employers feel like they’re to blame for their employee having or refusing help for drug or alcohol addiction, but it’s important that you don’t blame yourself. At the end of the day it is down to your employee to ultimately overcome their problem.
Remember, individuals who don’t get help for a drug or alcohol problem will only get worse.
Tips for Spotting the Signs of Abuse
Good employers can tell when their employees need support no matter what the cause may be. Keep an eye on how your employees behave and record any physical signs or behaviors that you’re worried about. Some of the signs of addiction may include:
- Arriving late for work on a regular basis
- Not turning up to work at all
- Glazed or bloodshot eyes
- Small pupils
- Smelling of alcohol
- Falling asleep at work
- Hyperactive but not productive
- Making mistakes
- Being involved in a number of accidents
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Personal hygiene standards getting worse
- Changes in personality
- Short of money
What to Do Next
It’s never a good idea to ignore the signs of addiction. Addressing addiction is often difficult, but the earlier it’s addressed, the better for your employee and your business. In order to support your employee, you’ll need to do some research into the resources that are available nearby. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Addiction counselors
- Rehabilitation facilities – Harris House has been providing addiction support for over 50 years. Their staff are available to answer any questions you may have about different types of rehabilitation programs and they can also arrange interventions if needed. Your employees can contact them for a free, confidential assessment to see what support is most suitable for them.
- The company health plan – the majority of health insurance programs offer at least partial coverage for addiction recovery.
- Local support groups – narcotics or alcoholics anonymous support groups could help support your employee through their recovery. These are available in a variety of locations around the U.S.
- Employment Assistance Program (EAP) – some companies have an EAP in place so have a look to see if you have one.
Responding to Addiction
In situations where an employee directly informs their employer that they believe they are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, careful steps should be taken to provide them with the support they need.
The first thing you need to do once you find out about an employee who is suffering with an addiction is to have a meeting with them. Discuss their needs and talk to them about their problems. You should also discuss with them how they want to deal with the problem. Some people prefer to take time off work so they can attend an addiction rehabilitation center while others prefer to have outpatient treatment. The more you support your employees through this process, the faster they will recover.
Remember, not all employees feel comfortable with opening up to their employer about addiction. If you only suspect that an employee is struggling with addiction, then you will need to conduct an investigation and implement random testing procedures in order to find out if your suspicions are correct.
Once you’ve completed your investigation, you should hold a meeting with your employee to discuss your findings. Further monitoring and disciplinary action may be needed if the employee refuses to get or accept help. If they are willing to deal with their addiction, then you’ll need to support them through this process.
As a business owner, one of the trickiest things you’ll ever have to deal with is an employee or colleague who is suffering with drug or alcohol addiction. Even if your business has a clear policy in place to deal with this issue and you conduct random drug testing of employees throughout the year, there’s still a high chance of encountering a worker who is struggling with addiction. If you want to help support one of your employees through this difficult period in their life, make sure you follow the advice above.