You are a manager of an enterprise. Customers are returning and sales are steadily increasing. The plans that were placed on hold a few years ago are looking more feasible. Your team is in place and your confidence in the future is growing.
As you look over the numbers and your records, you begin to notice a pattern of absence, late arrivals, early departures and a dip in performance levels. This is one of your trusted employees who has been with you for many years. They have consistently received positive feedback from your customers, and they are a real team player. They have a natural flair for the job, and you have invested significantly in them through various training and development opportunities. As you look closer, you notice that this situation has been going on for a while, and that it has been steadily increasing.
After several discreet and caring conversations, your employee has disclosed that they are juggling several personal issues and that they may have increased their substance use as they try to relieve the stress. They also said that they don’t need any help and they assured you that they can turn things around on their own. They have pledged to try harder to be on time and to meet all of your expectations. You have assured them that their job is secure and that you are confident in their ability to overcome their personal situations and regain and even surpass their prior achievements.
Or perhaps you have an employee who has just returned after an extended period of absence. The reason for their time away from work was supposed to be kept confidentially between a few people, but you start hearing the murmuring amongst the staff. Some people are dropping remarks about not wanting to work around a “druggie” and you know it won’t be too long before the murmurs turn to rumours and scorn.
Or maybe you head a corporation with a reputation for excellence. That was until two of your employees were caught in the middle of a major drug case while on duty and in your uniform.
While the stories portrayed are fictional, similar situations are played out on a monthly basis and have far reaching implications as the success or failure of your place of business, hinges upon customer satisfaction – external and internal. Substance use related issues are not a new phenomenon and the extent of the problems will vary almost as much as the type of drugs or substances and the individuals involved. Stigma, safety, productivity and workplace morale should however be the concern of all whether you are an employer, employee or a member of the general public.