With most employers scrambling to increase productivity, while cutting back on costs, it is understandable that one of the first places to reexamine is employee behavior and actions. The things that an employee does directly affect the business’ success.
However, one area that is often overlooked until a situation or workplace accident occurs is employee drug and alcohol use in the workplace. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 15% of illicit drug users and 6% of heavy alcoholics admit going to work drunk or high.
Because it is obvious that an impaired employee’s production, perception, and skills will be greatly decreased, having an employee enter the workplace impaired is not only a financial loss, but could also present a physically dangerous situation. In fact, an impaired employee is four times more likely to have an accident in the workplace, and impaired employees are accountable for at least half of workplace fatalities. If you are employing commercial drivers or even equipment operators, the damages caused by an impaired employee, should they wreck, could be devastating to your business.
Should an accident occur, an impaired employee is five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim, costing your company valuable money. It is important to realize that the impaired employee may also hurt coworkers, customers, or non-employees. If an impaired employee does indeed hurt a customer visiting your store, legal battles and poor publicity are likely to follow. If they are drivers, their likelihood of harming an innocent, non-worker increases as 39% of work-related vehicle crashes involve alcohol.
Aside from the physical harm that can come from an impaired employee in the workplace, productivity will be affected. If the employee has recently drunk alcohol or taken illegal drugs, the side effects will frequently cause the employee to either be drowsy, slurred, confused, disoriented, or clumsy. If the employee is experiencing a hangover from the previous night, they might be ill or in an unpleasant mood. How could such an employee put together a part or effectively handle a customer’s order?
Some may think that the employee’s absenteeism won’t affect the business. However, the Department of Labor offers statistics that show 500 million workdays are lost each year due to alcoholism. On average, an impaired employee is more likely to miss 8-40 days per year. While an occasional absence due to a medical illness is understood and accepted in the workforce, days lost to a hard night of partying are unacceptable.
Consider the other employees who are forced to work beside an impaired coworker. If action is not taken against the impaired worker, coworkers will inevitably become angry and resentful. If they are working extra hard due to the impaired person, you can guarantee an overall decrease in morale. If this becomes a common occurrence, the effects of decreased morale and productivity will begin to directly hurt your business.
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to encourage a drug free workplace. Hang up posters and signs, and offer training and education relating to the alarming statistics regarding impaired workers.
Require a pre-employment drug test. If allowed by state, perform random drug tests. Clearly state your company’s policy on drug and alcohol use during work hours. If an employee cannot follow the company policy, a termination is necessary. While it may be costly to hire a new employee, think of the cost of keeping a habitual offender on your payroll.
If you suspect an employee is impaired, take them home. While their absence will affect the workflow, dangerous accidents can be avoided.
Each year impaired employees cost U.S. businesses nearly $100 billion in decreased productivity, absences, worker’s compensation claims, and accidents. Before hiring or even allowing an impaired employee to continue working for you, consider all of the ramifications. They could be devastating to your business’ safety, reputation, and finances.
About Sozo Firm
Sozo Firm helps startup companies, small to mid-sized businesses & nonprofit organizations thrive through developing and implementing business optimization strategies. Our efficiency consulting addresses business processes, customer service, employees, marketing, public relations, and communication. Our internet strategy consulting addresses website usability, reputation management, social media, and internet marketing. Contact our senior consultant, Andrew Jensen, at 800.460.SOZO to learn how we can serve you.