Entries tagged with “Employee Assistance Plan”.

Michelle didn’t seem to take her job too seriously; she was usually 5-10 minutes late, took an excessive amount of breaks and often called in sick, all without remorse. However, she was clearly one of the best saleswomen in the region. Her convivial way with shoppers carried over to managers, to whom she promised she would never show up late again or simply that she would make up for all of her break through record sales. Unfortunately, her tardiness continued and eventually her skills began to deteriorate.

Employee stressed about telling boss he's an addictOne day, Michelle was on one of her many breaks when a coworker came running out and asked, “Where did that lady go who you were helping?” Michelle sat silent and confused for a second, then realized she had brought her to a cash register… and left her there, too focused on her cigarette to remember to ring her up. Turns out that lady had walked out; annoyed with the poor service she had received. And she took her unpaid clothes with her – a hand bag, 2 pairs of jeans, 3 nice tops and 2 pairs of earrings valued at $1035. Michelle was interrogated by her boss and forced to take a mandatory drug test. Her immediate termination was based on the cocaine found in her system, and she was forced to forfeit her final paycheck along with an additional $400 to make up for her drug induced mistake.

The US Department of Labor supplies the following incredible statistics to business owners and managers as a warning:

  • Employees with drug & alcohol problems are 25-30% less productive than others
  • They miss work 3 times as often as their non-abusing coworkers
  • 65% of all work-related incidents are caused by those using
  • Not only does this add stress to the workplace, but it also adds $100 billion in costs to the economy every year

Obviously, businesses cannot afford to ignore the signs of addiction, even when they think there are no other options. So how can owner and managers spot an addict? Here are a few common signs we look for:

  • General inconsistency (effort, showing up, attitude, etc.)
  • Lack of punctuality and excessive nonappearances
  • Lots of breaks throughout the day
  • Judgment mistakes and calculation errors
  • Difficulty remembering requests and concentrating on tasks
  • Anxiety, moodiness, excessive energy or lack of energy, and quick to anger

As a business owner or manager, try not to avoid confronting employees for displaying these signs. Far too often this is done and leads to unnecessary incidents in the workplace. Sometimes it is blamed on personal problems, issues at home or personality traits, when illegal and dangerous substances more often cause it. Addiction cannot go unnoticed.

An easy solution is to implement a company policy to require random drug tests. Inform managers to be on the lookout for the common signs of addiction listed above. It may even be necessary to refer suspicious employees to the HR department or an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) for an assessment and list of places where he/she can get help. Without doing one of the latter, owners and managers are simply enabling the addict and hurting their own bottom line in the long run. So please, keep addiction out of your workplace. It’s good for business.

For some people the main obstacle keeping them from entering addiction rehab is their job.  How do they tell their boss? What do they say to co-workers?  Will they be fired? Fortunately the answers are often easier than they think.  At St. Joseph Institute, we take care of most communication with the employer.

For those people who work in an organization with more than 50 employees and have been employed a year or more, their job is well protected.  The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of leave for medical reasons while protecting your job and your confidentiality. The process is simple.  We call the Human Resources department on your behalf, advise that you need to take medical leave and request the paperwork.  Discussions with the HR staff are protected by confidentiality laws and very few personal details are disclosed.  The HR staff is directed to inform your supervisor that you are “taking medical leave” and no more information is disclosed.  A government form is completed and leave is granted.

Employee stressed about telling boss he's an addictIn larger organizations, the process is even more confidential because they often have an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) which manages these requests.  We communicate directly with the EAP, and the employer receives no confidential information. The same process is used when applying for short term disability.  Confidential information never goes beyond the HR staff and employment is well protected.

In smaller organizations, or when an individual has been employed for less than one year, a discussion needs to take place with the person in the organization responsible for HR.  We secure a commitment to keep the information confidential before we disclose the employee’s name.  As with FMLA, supervisors and colleagues should not hear more than the statement “they are on medical leave.”  There is never an obligation to disclose more information to colleagues or supervisors unless by choice.

We have found that employers are very supportive of people seeking help to improve their lives and get well.  In our experience, employers will often go the extra mile to provide benefits and support that exceed the written contracts.

The bottom line: don’t let job concerns prevent you from getting the help you need.  Getting caught using on the job or performing below expectations is where the real trouble lies.  Take the initiative to start treatment.  We will take care of the paperwork.