The High Cost of Drug Use

Drug use in the workplace is at its highest point in more than a decade, a recent Quest Diagnostics study has shown. In fact, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) survey, about 70% of all drug users are employed—as they make their way into and out of your workplace, they can increase your turnover rates, reduce productivity, and decrease morale among your other employees. Drug users are inconsistent in their attendance habits and in their work quality; additionally, their errors in judgment affect their own safety and that of other employees. Also disturbing is the idea that drug use in your company frequently means there are drug sales happening in or near your company, increasing the chances of workplace crime and / or violence as well as the possibility of encouraging drug use among employees who are not currently using drugs (especially among younger members of your workforce, who are more apt to use illicit substances, according to SAMHSA). Even if you find and remove an employee who is using drugs at work, the repercussions of their behavior can linger on.

What the Quest Diagnostics study proves is that drug-using applicants are making it past initial screening efforts. Once in, you are immediately investing time and money in them through onboarding resources, training efforts, and lost productivity due to learning curves. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc (NCADD) estimates that employer costs related to drug use total $81 billion annually. Despite many employers operating under “at will” employment law, it can still be difficult and costly to fire an employee at times; it is certainly difficult and costly to replace them once they’re gone. The key to solving this difficulty is keeping drug use out from the beginning – but if they are getting past initial screen efforts, what more can be done?

A thorough analysis of your hiring process from start to finish is a good way to begin. Review the order in which you progress through the steps from acceptance of application to the act of making a job offer.  Are people slipping through because of the sheer volumes of hires you make? Is your hiring process not well-documented and therefore applied inconsistently? Are you wasting money using the wrong tools at the wrong time? For example, are you running a background check on every applicant when that could wait until after the skills testing? Are you taking simple steps to screen applicants before they enter the hiring process, through an integrity test like those offered by Insight Worldwide? This type of testing has repeatedly proven to elicit actual admittances from applicants about drug use as well as the related behaviors of theft and workplace violence, and when they are placed at the beginning of a hiring process, they can help screen applicants before you spend your time and money on skills testing, background checks, and / or biological drug testing.

Today’s HR professional needs a number of tools at his or her disposal in order to handle the challenges of drug use in the workplace, and Insight Worldwide has a wide range of solutions available to fit your specific requirements. With the type of information coming out of studies like the one from Quest Diagnostics, where we can see marijuana, amphetamine, and cocaine usage continuing to rise, this is not an issue that is going away anytime soon. Waging this battle on the front line and minimizing the chances of drug use in the workplace at every opportunity is the only way to manage these costs in the long run. Please contact us so we can discuss the challenges you are facing and how we can help.

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