As statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration show, workplace substance abuse is one of the primary problems that has greatly affected the productivity and spending of most organizations. Of the estimated more than 17.2 million substance abusers in 2005, more than 74.8 % were individuals belonging to the working class, a figure that keeps on increasing annually.
The increasing number of accidents caused by substance abusers has made the scenario worse, because of the nature of monetary losses associated with compensating accident victims, hiring of new employees, and reduction in the general productivity of an organization.
As research findings show, almost 20% of workplace accidents are caused by substance abusers, as most substance abusers are more susceptible to occupational injuries. In any working scenario, maintenance of accuracy and alertness is one of the factors that determines the success of any endeavors hence, the necessity of ensuring workplaces are free from substance abuse.
Of all the abused drugs in workplaces, alcohol is one of the most common abused substances, because of its legality. Alcohol abuse is one of the most prevalent problem that posses many challenges to the success of most organizations, in the present cooperate world. As research studies show, annually, U.S. organizations loose more than $ 100 billion in form of compensations to alcohol other substance abuse related accident cases hence, leading to increased insurance premiums, and loosing of productive labor.
The cost is even worse, when organizations add the costs incurred in diverting of organizational resources to functions that are not beneficial to the wellbeing of an organization. In addition to economic loses, alcohol costs organizations other expenses that are hard to evaluate in monetary terms, for example, reduction in employee’s levels of motivation (U.S. Department of Labor, 2010, p.1).
Considering this, it is very crucial for organizations’ management teams to formulate workable methodologies of dealing with the problem, it being the only way of ensuring such organizations remain competent, increase productivity, and protects its workers from effects of substance abuse.
Of the approximated 17.2 million working substance abusers, approximately 15 million are alcohol abusers. Majority of these are heavy drinkers and are in full time occupations hence, a clear show of how much organizations suffer, because of substance abusing workers who perform poorly in their duties.
Most of heavy drinkers rarely attend work as required, as most of them are late for work either or completely absent because of intoxication (U.S. Department of Labor, 2010, p.1). For example, in the previous financial year, as reports by the human resource department show, almost 10% of all workers in my current organization attended work irregularly (because of alcohol intoxication) and almost 6% attended work while drunk.
Closely associated with absenteeism is the rate in which alcohol abusers changed their occupations within short time spans. Job changes are a common practice among most alcohol abusers, as alcohol incapacitates them from maintaining the competence required in maintaining their current offices.
Such job changes have greatly affected the general productivity of the organization, because from time to time the company has lost a cohort of productive workers to alcoholism. One funny thing with most alcohol abusers is that, they know what they are doing hence, once they discover the management knows their problem, most of them lay themselves off, before the management can develop any measures to save them from their addiction.
In addition to decreased productivity and losing of a productive cohort of workers, over the recent past the number of conflicts between managements and employees has risen steadily hence, causing very many managerial problems.
As compared to the last financial year, over the recent past there has been a 34% increase in the number of conflicts between most drunk workers with supervisors hence, causing management problems, as most of these individuals are hard to deal with or handle. Another effect that has resulted from the ever-increasing number of drunken employees is the number of accidents caused by alcohol-intoxicated employees.
Majority of alcohol-intoxicated employees perform poorly in their duties and do many faults hence, greatly affecting the level and quality of work output. Closely associated with poor performance is the increasing number of accidents resulting from carelessness, lack of adherence to instructions, and lack of alertness of alcohol-intoxicated workers.
Of all the accidents reported in the last financial year, 75% were cause by alcohol-intoxicated employees, making the organization to loose a substantial amount of revenues inform of insurance claims and replacing of broken machine parts. Generally, alcohol impairs individual’s ability to concentrate in their duties, perform work to desired standards, and attend work as required.
Considering this, it is crucial for an organization to formulate and implement strategies of helping its workers to avoid the vice, in an endeavor to ensure an organization achieves its desired goals as well as help its employees deal with their problems (Lemon, 2010, p.1).
In an endeavor to safeguard an organization’s interests, it is important for an organization to formulate and implement a set of policies or laws to tame the vice. In formulating such policies, it is important to include all management teams, workers’ organizations and both the affected and not affected employees, regardless of their level in an organization.
One primary factor that such policies should emphasize is the need for a safe and healthy working environment hence, the need to clearly define preventive actions that an organization can use to tame the vice. There is also need to define the duties and responsibilities of each worker as far prevention and avoidance of substance abuse is concerned. In addition, it is important for all individuals in an organization to note that, alcohol abuse affects every worker in one way or another, whether they are abusers or not.
In formulating the policies, it is important for management teams to establish the real cause of any case of alcohol abuse in their organization, as this will set the foundation of solving the problem. Apart from other external factors for example, family stress that may make individuals to abuse alcohol, internal organizational factors may make workers to engage themselves in alcohol abuse.
Some of these factors include isolation, lack of supervision, job stress, job satisfaction, and uncertainty in working periods. On the other hand, an organization should collaborate with the government and worker organizations when formulating any laws governing the handling of substance abusers.
This should include the nature of penalties to be suffered by any individual who comes to work drunk, or boycotts work, because of alcoholism. Therefore, in formulating policies of taming the vice, it is also important for managements to ensure they consider all primary causes behind the practice, as this is the only mechanism of ensuring any adopted policies achieve desired results (Ghodse, 2009, p.1).
In addition to policy formulation, organizations should develop education programs, whose primary goal should be to familiarize supervisors and workers with clear facts about alcohol abuse.
There is need for any education program implemented to emphasize the significance of safeguarding one’s health, because of the importance of a sound mind individual to the wellbeing of individual, fellow workers, and an organization. Further, any educational program developed should help employees to formulate relevant intervention measures in case they are tempted to abuse alcohol or it should impart in employees intervention measures, which may be crucial in helping their comrades involved in the practice.
It is important for all management teams to remember that, the working of an education program primarily depends on the laid down policies. This is because, without rules and regulations to be followed by employees, an education program may achieve little, because in an organizational setting, finding deviants is inevitable.
Education programs can take many orientations, for example, employee assisted programs, and organized sensitization programs. Managements should ensure that, all employees have the chance of accessing support systems, as this is one of the primary ways of ensuring that employees acquire the real facts and support, when dealing with alcohol related problems (Roman & Terry, 2002, p. 1).
Another mechanism that an organization can use to minimize cases of substance or alcohol abuse is by providing a good working environment. As research studies show, job stress, long working hours, and lack of job satisfaction are some of the primary reasons that make individuals to abuse drugs or engage in alcoholism.
Organizations should create good working policies and practices, which should help to eliminate predatory factors that may make individuals to engage in alcohol abuse. Although management teams should give organizational goals the first priority when formulating any working schedules, it is important for management teams to remember that, the success of any working schedule depends on its acceptance among workers.
It is important form all work schedules to accommodate employees needs, as this is one of the primary mechanisms of motivating employees. On the other hand, it is crucial for managements to adopt appropriate mechanisms of reducing likelihood of occupational accidents occurring, as this will ensure that, incase supervisors are not able to detect any drunk employees, the prevailing conditions can minimize chances of such an employee causing an accident.
Generally, structuring of the working environment should involve the formulation of a corporate culture, whose main goal should be to minimize with any drug abuse habit (United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, International Labour Office, 2003, pp. 24-57).
For the affected, although they may have made an organization to loose some revenue due to their addictions, it is important for an organization to have rehabilitation opportunities to these workers.
This should the case because; various workers are alcohol abusers due to different reasons. Hence, denying them a rehabilitation opportunity means that, organizations are less concerned with their workers’ welfare, a fact that may lead to low motivational levels among workers. In addition, there should be no biases in provision of healthcare services to all employees, whether they are addicts or not.
To ensure that these workers receive the required medical and psychological help, there is need for organizations to allow them to have paid sick leaves, and improved insurance coverage. As an employer promises job security to workers with no alcohol abuse problems, they should also promise job security to the affected class of workers, as this might help them to recover fast or quit their unethical practices.
It is important for all employers to remember that, although substance abusers may have genuine reasons for engaging in alcohol abuse, such employees should not be exempted from any punishment once they violate any set rules governing substance abuse in an organization (Buck, Teich et al, 199, pp. 67-78).
Adoption of appropriate workplace policies is of great significance when it comes to ensuring an organization achieves all its set targets. Appropriate measures of dealing with alcohol addiction can play a crucial role as far as promoting of workers’ level of confidence and motivation is concerned.
In addition to promoting workers motivational levels, adoption of appropriate policies can help to reduce the level of work absenteeism hence, increase the level of work output and productivity. Such policies also give an organization a chance of offering a hand in solving communal problems hence, creating of a good relationship with surrounding communities. Such relationships are good for the wellbeing of an organization, as this will create a favorable environment necessary for any business to thrive.
On the other hand, the working of any policies adopted can help an organization to reduce its medical burden, as the numbers of accident cases are likely to reduce hence, increasing the viability competitiveness of an organization (Institute of Alcohol Studies, (n.d), pp.4-11).
In conclusion, it is the duty of any organization to formulate and implement necessary measures of taming any likelihood of any case of alcohol abuse occurring. This is possible through an organization clearly defining rules or working policies that all employees must follow.
In addition, to ensure all employees are well informed on the hazards of substance abuse, an organization should develop a system of educating or sensitizing its employees about the effects of their practices both to themselves and the an organization as a whole. Failure can be very detrimental to the wellbeing of an organization, because of the high levels of accidents, poor performance, and low level of motivation associated with alcohol abuse.
Buck, J.A., Teich, J.L., et al. (1999). Behavioral Health Benefits In Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, 1997. Health Affairs, 18(2): 67-78.
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Roman, P. M., & Terry, B. C. (2002). The work place and alcohol problem prevention.
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