Wynford Ellis Owen, chief executive of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs was on BBC Radio Wales yesterday talking about workplace drug testing and how it appears that many employers seem to be ignoring the issue. And how they do not seem to know how to recognize when someone has a drugs problem.
I am sure this is true. Over the years too many companies have denied a problem only to find when they have started testing that they do have people taking drugs and coming into work ‘under the influence’. The big corporates are prone to this and to some extent it is understandable as the guy giving the media interview is often a higher executive with little day-to-day contact with the main workforce. Maybe it is possible for someone with drug and/or drink problems to hide more effectively in a larger organization.
But SMEs are also involved.
I have worked in a small company where drug use by the employees was never considered an issue. Why the company decided to start testing I have no idea, probably for some accreditation or maybe just felt like the right thing to do. But the result was that in this small company of 40 to 50 persons employed 2 drug users were detected.
There had been no discernable behavioral evidence prior to the testing.
The upshot was that support and assistance was put in place and nobody had to lose their job. Workplace drug and alcohol testing makes sense because it can help pick up problems before they become a performance issue that might affect the viability of the company; and for the individual they get to talk about an issue that more than likely they have been wanting help with for a long time.