Managing Drug & Alcohol issues at Work?
Sometime when we are confronted with difficult isses such as concerns about an employee with problems due to drugs or alcohol it can be all too easy to avoid dealing with the problem. Although this can be a difficult conversation to have with your employee it is an important to keep in mind that the best way to approach both drugs and alcohol issues is with an open and honest dialogue .
Do you suspect there is a problem with Drugs or Alcohol?
Firstly, think about why you are concerned that your employee may have a problem with drugs & alcohol. Consider any potential signs/ symptoms of alcohol misuse such as;
• slurred speech
• smell of alcohol
• reducted productivity
• poor performance
• lateness/short term absences from work
• changes in behaviour such as irritability, mood swings
• concerns from other colleagues
Starting a conversation about Drugs & Alcohol at Work?
Its important to allow sufficient time and choose a suitable environment to have a personal conversation with your employee. A quiet, confidential space will indicate you are willing to listen. Ask the employee if there is a problem and show concern for their wellbeing. You may start by saying for example
‘I am not sure what is wrong, but I am concerned by your lateness and wondering what this is about’
‘I have noticed that you have been late to work on several occasions and I wondered if you could tell me about why this is happening.’
It is important to establish that the conversation is supportive to allow the employee an opportunity to open up about their difficulties rather than close the conversation by taking a blaming position. Focus on what you have noticed and give time for the employee to be able to talk to you about their difficulties.
What should you do when Drug & Alcohol issues occur?
If you have established that your employee is drinking alcohol in a problematic way you will need to consider the health and safety implications for both the individual and other employees. This is especially important if the individual is drinking before they start work or during their shift.
It may be appropriate that the employee is asked to leave work and have a period off work if their level of drinking is putting either themselves or their colleagues at risk. Ideally, there will be a Drugs & Alcohol Workplace Policy which you can refer to for advice on how best to approach the issue. You may also wish to consider referral to Occupational Health.
Can a Referral to Occupational Health help?
Occupational Health assessments aim to determine the extent of the Drugs & Alcohol problem and the impact on their health. The consultation for example will focus on the alcohol consumption, the patterns of drinking, the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed.
Occupational Health will then explore the reason an employee’s drinking whether it is due to depression, stress, personal issues, or other health issues. Drinking is often a way an individual tries to cope with difficult situations.
The discussion will also focus on how to adopt healthy drinking habits and effective strategies they can use for cutting down their alcohol consumption. The health professional will also try to advise on local specialist alcohol service that may be available, and identify if there are reasonable adjustments the employer can provide to support the employee in the workplace.
Finally if there are any restrictions around role of the individual from a health and safety perspective, such as driving then this will be highlighted.
Arranging an OH Referral for Drug or Alcohol?
- Speak to one of our friendly members of staff about the issues with Drugs or Alcohol
- We will arrange the appointment to suit you and the employee
- Our reports will be sent within 48 hours unless consent is required