Drugs and their effects on Business
We all know that people are heavily using drugs for recreational purposes. What we don’t know or haven’t realized yet is that it is becoming more common for drug users to get high before or even at work.
“Stoned” workers are inefficient and are costing companies millions in accidents and lost productivity. The problem has become so big, companies have banded together to form rehabilitation programs to help the affected workers. Drug use affects employees for one reason or another in every position of a company, and this greatly reduces the efficiency of those employees. This has prompted companies to initiate illegal searches, which violates the rights of employees, and rehabilitation programs.
Drug abuse causes many serious problems that could have been avoided if the user wasn’t on drugs. The problem of drug abuse has its worse effects when the persons using drugs are responsible for millions of dollars in equipment, money, or lives. Workers on drugs are not alert and uncoordinated. Uncoordinated workers on an assembly line have a higher percentage of error than their sober counterparts making for defective parts and merchandise which will be returned by irate customers. This will cost a company in worthless merchandise and unhappy customers who most likely will not use their products again. A worker with a drug problem also misses more days, on sick leave, compared to a worker without a drug problem.
The most logical reason for drug abuse is the accessibility of drugs at work and in society. If drugs are so accessible then of course there are going to be abusers. The government has tried to stop the flow of drugs inside the United States, but they haven’t had any overwhelming success. Cocaine is becoming more popular because it provides an intense high that gives the user the feeling he/she can do anything, and cocaine is easily hid and used. Workers have devised many ways to use and move drugs through a company, such as sending drugs through normal interoffice messenger services, or switching drugs with medicine bottles and using them in front of everyone. Executives with their own offices have an even easier time taking drugs because of the privacy of their offices.
In some cases drugs have become a part of company procedures. Business that involve sales have a reputation of warm up meetings with alcohol and now drugs are added to these parties in order to persuade customers to buy the product or service. In fields where the workers are addicted, like modeling, cocaine is buried in the budgets. This open use of drugs has encouraged companies to do their best to crack down on drug users in the company.
Companies are attempting to stop their employees from being on drugs. Workers are even turning in their fellow workers. Mainly because they are tired of working around high co-workers who may be a danger to themselves and the people around them. In attempts to do something effective, companies have initiated illegal searches of the private property of employees. Illegal searches are being done under the assumption that an employee is the property of the company and that the company can threaten the employee’s job. The most common procedure is when company officials cut the locks of employees’ lockers and then search for contraband, with or without the help of drug sniffing dogs.
A more discrete way companies are searching for drug users is by hiring undercover agents that entrap employees into using drugs. Catching more secretive drug users with drugs on them, because they are clever or are just weekend users of drugs is more difficult. Companies have to physically search the employee’s body, which raises a lot of controversy. Urine testing gives rise to most discontent because of its humiliating way of getting a sample. Blood testing has its own problems because of the discomfort of a needle extracting blood. Because of the problems of conventional testing for controlled substances in the body’s chemical tract, medical professionals have been coming up with new methods for testing the body to see if there are drugs present. One of the newest types of drug testing is the sampling of hair. Hair keeps a permanent record of the body’s chemicals including the drugs it has used. The best side of testing hair is that it requires less cooperation from the person being tested so it can be done without a lot of complaints.
Employers are just beginning to start wide scale testing. It is becoming more common for job applicants to take drug tests. Volunteer testing for drugs is becoming more popular. Mandatory testing of all employees is a bit harder to accomplish. Due to the fact that managers and executives have so much power in a company, beginning mandatory testing is easily bypassed.
Drug testing has brought up several controversies over the right to privacy and an employer’s right to have to workers who are not on drugs. The real reason why labor unions are not supporting testing in the work place is because something personal might be found in a search and the violation of privacy is one step to the elimination of their guaranteed rights.
On the company side of the dispute they feel that they have a right and responsibility to establish sound working conditions. Employee’s feel that off time is their own time and that they can do anything they want to do with that time. While on company time employers have the right to say how employees behave in the work place. The problem is that drugs have lingering affects so even if employees use them of their off time they are still impaired when they go to work, so there is no simple answer. An employers number one concern is safety. Drug impaired workers create a huge safety problem because of their obscured mental condition, and this gives the employers a very good cause to hunt down drug users. Still employees are afraid of drug testing because of myths of severe treatment for being caught.
Companies are trying to help those employees who are affected by drugs. In the past, companies would terminate employees with a drug problem. But the reality of termination for using marijuana in a company, would only merit a $100 fine in California, was unrealistic and unfair, so now a company will put the affected employee in a drug-treatment program. Another logical reason for companies to keep drug- impaired employees is because it is easier to help a person who has been on the job than it is to hire and train someone to replace him. And on top of that a company’s health-insurance benefits pay all the treatment costs. These treatment programs have a 73% success rate. It is in the company’s favor to send an affected employee to a treatment program, which is totally feasible for the company.
To help their employees to get off of drugs several of the 500 largest companies have banded together to make up an effective program. Many of the Fortune 500 companies have set up in-house employee-assistance programs, and they have even set up toll-free 800 numbers for workers and their families to call for advice and information. The treatment of drug impaired workers is relativity new and therefore the long-term effects of the programs is not known and can only be speculated at. Companies are now starting to notice the problems that drugs produce and are trying to stop the use of them by their employees. Realizing that there is a problem is a key step in attacking the problem.
It now has become harder to use drugs and still make a living due to the increase in testing. Since companies are controlling people who use drugs, by testing, this might stem the flow of drugs into this country. The way drugs are being treated by companies may be very effective in changing the way people view drug taking in this country.