Employee Wellbeing – How Drug & Alcohol policies are there to help


What is workplace wellbeing?

Workplace wellbeing relates to all aspects of an employees working life, from the safety and comfort of their physical environment, to how they feel about being at work and its atmosphere.

Fostering employee wellbeing helps employees and the organisation, as it promotes positive working environments and prevents stress. These two factors work in synergy to improve employee engagement and the performance of the organisation.

Organisations that do not consider employee wellbeing in their policies and programmes risk the detriment of their staff’s mental health. This can result in the misuse of substances such as drugs & alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Drug and Alcohol misuse in the workplace

The issue of drug and alcohol misuse at work is a key issue in the detriment to an employee’s health, safety and wellbeing. Pressure such as the increased cost of living and economic strain has added stress to many,  both financially and mentally – leading to alternative coping mechanisms that are quite often counterproductive to their circumstances.

Drug & alcohol misuse in the workplace is often overlooked. There can be a variety of factors that affect drug and alcohol consumption including incorrectly managed shift work and long hours, stress, confrontational environments styles, bullying, harassment, peer pressure. Other factors might include boring work, working in isolated areas, workplace culture and ease of access to alcohol and/or drugs at work.

Ensuring that an organisation has a clear and active drug & alcohol policy in place is key in deterring substance misuse alongside their professional life, but this should always be accompanied by providing preventative support to cater for an employee’s needs.

Why implement a drug & alcohol policy?

An effective drug & alcohol policy should not be used as a method to punish and threaten employees, testing should be a source of reassurance, knowing their workplace is maximising safety throughout and creating a healthier environment.

Employers should be aware of drug and alcohol misuse when creating wellbeing programmes and should aim to retain talented and valuable people after they seek treatment or professional support.

Investment in managerial capability was highly rated for being effective in the prevention of drug and alcohol misuse. Having a clear and coherent policy that managers are knowledgeable of encourages the support of employees and their wellbeing. It provides them with options for help with a problem and where they stand with their company rather than the fear of instant dismissal at any moment.

Structure and effectiveness

Whilst many companies have a policy in place, only a small proportion provide support to help with any potential misuse. However, it has been shown that providing extra support has positive outcomes – with the CIPD, a professional body for HR and people development, finding 69% of employees remained working in their organisation without further issue once they had received help. This is an indication of how valuable it can be for an employer to integrate wellbeing support into their organisation’s drug & alcohol policy.

When you’ve assessed the risk and have a policy on drug or alcohol misuse (or abuse) in your workplace, make sure your employees know about the policy and the support on offer.

Policy structure and awareness

All new employees should be made aware of the drug & alcohol policy but also informed of the supportive measures and options in place.

Management and supervisors should also be trained in implementing and actioning their drug and alcohol policy:

  • How to see if an employee is displaying signs of drug or alcohol misuse
  • What action to take if an employee is confirmed/suspected to abuse drug & alcohol
  • How to respond when an employee approaches them about a problem they have with substance misuse
  • The organisations stance and procedures in place regarding substance misuse

Organisations can provide extensive wellbeing measures and policies to help with employee wellbeing. Organisations should communicate with employees and highlight those policies such as drug & alcohol testing are designed to protect the workforce, physically, mentally and emotionally. Ultimately however, it is the employee’s responsibility to look after their own health and wellbeing and use the options available from their employer

At Randox Testing Services, our professional policy review service is available to help modify or create a workplace drug and alcohol testing policy.

We deliver bespoke training sessions and testing kits for organisation’s who would like to begin testing internally or simply gain further knowledge on the significance of a drug and alcohol policy.