Why your Small Business Should Think about a Drug Policy

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A startling revelation reported on by MarketWatch reveals that according to data from last year, 1 in 10 small businesses had employees working under the influence of drugs or other judgement impairing substances. The report emphasized the dangers posed by prescription drugs in particular, which, while legally available to those who need them due to medical conditions, nonetheless have a potential for abuse that can lead to addiction and serious health consequences, and even death by overdose. The dangers posed by an impaired employee will vary depending on their job, proximity to heavy machinery or weapons, and their level of intoxication, but in reality any case of inebriation on the job represents more than just a danger to the employee and their coworkers, and should be viewed as a serious lapse in discipline and professionalism.

Social stigma aside, any substance that impairs an employees ability to do their job effectively should not be consumed before or during work hours. There are social and personal issues that your employees may have that have no proven correlation to their job performance, for example, a bad credit score does not necessarily indicate a problem employee. Regardless of your personal feelings regarding substance use, impairment is a problem that can have very negative consequences for your business because your workers are not able to function at peak efficiency. While lost productivity equates to lost revenue, worse issues can arise if your employee is under the influence in front of customers or makes mistakes when filing reports, organizing data or making sales.

Be proactive when creating a drug policy, and make sure it is clearly understood. With widely varying personal attitudes regarding different substances, it is imperative that employers clearly explain exactly why they need a drug policy, and what the consequences will be for infractions. Education is often the best methods of prevention, and especially where safety risks make it even more dangerous for an intoxicated employee and their coworkers, you should be sure to brief every worker on what is expected of them and what falls under ban by your drug policy. You may also wish to post reminders near areas with heavy equipment or sensitive information. Get your employees involved as well, the more honest dialogue you are able to foster around the issue, the better.

Photo Credit to Images Money on Flickr

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