Workplace Drug Testing

It’s never easy to ask someone to urinate in a cup.

Some job applicants will feel uncomfortable. Employees might feel violated. It’s an awkward conversation. But having a well-executed drug testing program will help you avoid bigger problems and could save your company thousands of dollars each year.

While the move to legalize marijuana has raised new issues and emotions, most employers still want the workplace to be drug-free.

And drug abuse in the workplace should be a major concern for employers today. An estimated 70 percent of the 15 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed, and drug abuse costs employers more than $80 billion annually.

Drug use and abuse within your company can cause decreased productivity, lower morale, and increased absenteeism. It can also lead to workplace theft, accidents, and violence. Implementing a drug testing program is the best way to protect your employees and your business.

The Benefits of Workplace Drug Testing

Most employers will find that it’s in their best interest to implement some form of drug testing at their company. Surveys and studies show that workplace testing programs can:

  • Provide a safer work environment. Substance abuse is a leading cause of workplace violence and injuries. A drug testing program will show your employees that you take their safety seriously, and most individuals are not deterred by companies with drug testing policies.
  • Decrease absenteeism and turnover. Workers who take illegal drugs or are dependent on alcohol have higher rates of absenteeism and are more likely to have multiple jobs within a year. Reducing employee drug abuse can lower healthcare and legal costs for employers.
  • Promote productivity. The effects of substance abuse are not isolated to users. Nearly one-third of workers questioned in one industry survey said their job performance was negatively affected by a co-worker’s substance abuse.
  • Protect your small business. Approximately 9 in 10 employed drug users and heavy drinkers report working for small- or medium-sized companies, typically because they are less likely to drug test. But one mistake by an impaired employee can devastate a small business.

How to Implement an Effective Drug Testing Policy

If you decide to start or refine a drug testing program at your company, it’s important to create a detailed policy.

1.     Customize your policy. First, determine exactly what your policy will entail by answering these questions:

  • What are your goals and guidelines for the new policy?
  • How often, when, and where will testing be done?
  • Will you do pre-hire, random, or post-incident testing?
  • Will you do testing in-house, or will you use a third-party administrator to test employees?
  • What are the consequences if someone tests positive?
  • Will you offer employee assistance programs?

2.     Put it all on paper. Before you administer a drug test in your organization, create a detailed written employee drug testing policy, and update your employee handbook. Make sure it clearly answers the key questions, and have a legal specialist make sure the policy complies with federal, state, and local laws.

3.     Communicate with your employees. Notify employees about the new or updated policy, and have all of them sign a consent form. Clearly explain to them why you’re implementing the program, highlighting the safety, health, and productivity benefits. The drug testing policy should also be included with job applications to ensure that future employees are aware of the policy from the start.

As a business leader, if you’ve never considered implementing a workplace drug testing policy, you should. Simply having a policy in place is unlikely to harm your organization in any way, but failing to perform drug testing on employees could cost you thousands of dollars in lost productivity or worse. A thoughtful, simple, and effective policy can make a huge difference in the success — and survival — of your company.

Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz and her husband immigrated to the United States with nothing but two suitcases, a love for each other, and a desire for entrepreneurship. They co-founded Confirm BioSciences and TestCountry, where Ilgaz serves as president. As the global leader in the field of lab and instant testing for drugs of abuse and health, Confirm BioSciences is committed to being on the cutting edge of offering new, service-oriented drug testing technologies.

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