Statistic 40% of Employees Under the Influence of Drugs while Working
Shelley Miles, Head of Psychology Services for Assure Programs, says more employers are turning to EAP providers to find ways to retain staff and help manage employees with substance abuse issues. “Increasingly, organisations are becoming mindful of drug and alcohol issues and in turn, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and the impact of the stressors that are prevalent in society,” she says.
Data from the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) has previously found that as many as one in five employees have performed their work duties while under the influence of alcohol, with a further 40% attending work while feeling the after-effects.
The ADF has also estimated that drug and alcohol use has an annual price-tag to Australian businesses of around $6 billion, mostly racked up by lost productivity and absenteeism.
Common signs that staff are battling with substance abuse issues include irritability, problems concentrating, extreme tiredness and blurred vision, all of which can create problems for employers and co-workers.
Alcohol and other drugs can impact on workplaces in a number of ways, including affecting relationships, safety and productivity.
A significant number of referrals are coming from the employers in the mining and construction industries, who have a No Tolerance policy for substance use that reflects the risky nature of their work.
“A large number of fly in fly out workers are in this category – with the drug of choice we see being alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamines,” she says.
“We also work closely with customers to deliver leadership development programs, to better equip managers to identify, respond, plan and support employees experiencing a range of mental health challenges,” says Miles.
There are a range of actions that an employer may take when working with a staff member experiencing problems with alcohol or other drugs. This can include:
- Being aware of signs and symptoms – including mental health issues, as these are often linked.
- Skilling up/training employers/managers/supervisors to have conversations with their employees.
- Having clear policies and procedures including organisational actions such as fitness for work assessments/ rehabilitation options and/or other consequences.
- Having strong organisational culture/role modelling of good behaviour.