In the last issue of Journey, we talked about the cost substance use can have in a workplace and tips to help employers develop a high-level support plan. It just makes sense to address these issues and build a healthier, happier, more productive workforce, so this month, let’s drill down further four considerations when building an employee support program.
1. Workplace Substance Use Policy
A workplace substance use policy is important for creating and maintaining a substance-free work environment and to help mitigate risk. It should include a drug testing policy, available support programs, and rules for all employees. Review this policy as you onboard new hires and annually with existing employees and provide all employees information about substance misuse including symptoms and the effects on performance.
2. Employee Education
Discuss with employees how they and their family members can get help through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a health and wellness program, your healthcare provider, or other channels. Communicate often about prevention resources like health and wellness programs, helplines, and other resources so employees know where to turn for help. Also highlight what support is confidential; people may be reluctant to get help through employer-sponsored programs if they think their employer will find out about their struggles.
Make sure these resources are easily accessible (e.g., posted in a break room and/or the company intranet) and include hard copies in the employee handbook.
3. Deriving Engagement and Outcomes
Determine what you’ll need to measure the success of your policies and programs. Consider a multidimensional approach to capture an employee’s social, environmental, and behavioral wellbeing over time. For example, you may want to measure opioid reduction or relapse prevention, speed to recovery (or minimized lost work time), or adherence to a care management plan.
4. Update Policy and Programs Annually
Based on the data and reporting you get about your support programs, adjust your policies and programs accordingly. Is engagement low? You might have a Lunch and Learn or educational webinar to talk about employee wellness and share your resources. Is engagement high?
Consider relapse prevention resources to your program to keep people motivated and build a healthy workplace environment for those in recovery.