Stop Asking Too Much of HR

Don’t compromise the success of your substance free workplace program by asking too much of Human Resources. Often the most overtaxed and under-appreciated department in a company, human resources should not bear the sole burden of creating and implementing a substance free workplace program. On the other hand, a successful substance free workplace program will benefit HR by reducing disciplinary problems, reducing on the job injuries/accidents/incidents, and reducing employee turnover. Help HR experience the benefits of a substance free workplace without an unnecessary burden by following these guidelines.

Outsource Trying to develop and implement a substance free workplace program entirely in-house is unnecessary and often inappropriate. There are aspects of a substance free workplace program that should always be handled by an outside company, including the drug and alcohol testing and any random drug test selections. Most of the other components (policy development, written procedures, supervisor and employee trainings, etc) are easily outsourced, as well. This isn’t to say that HR won’t be integral to the process, but they don’t need to do the time consuming work of putting policy to paper. They also can’t be expected to acquire the expertise necessary to create an effective, practical and legal policy. HR should bring the “big picture” perspective, ensuring that the policies and procedures: 1) reflect the company’s culture and values, 2) respect their employees, 3) fit with day to day operations. Let a substance free workplace professional handle the tedious details.

Train the supervisors How often do supervisors answer policy related questions with, “that’s a question for HR?” As little as two hours of supervisor training on the front end can save human resources a lot of time and effort on the back end. The more knowledgeable the supervisors are, the less they will defer to HR for the answers. Not only should supervisors be trained on the policy and procedures, but they should learn the answers to the most common employee questions. By the end of a successful training, they will be able to follow through with the policies and procedures and answer any questions that may come up along the way (see to tool at the bottom of this post).

Don’t ask HR to make judgments There are many reasons I advise businesses to avoid the phrase “up to and including termination” in their policies. One of the reasons is the unfair burden this language places on HR. Even the most even-handed application of consequences may look discriminatory from the outside. Due to their obligations to protect confidentiality, HR doesn’t have the opportunity to explain their decision-making process and can easily lose employee confidence. Additionally, they are being asked to make decisions regarding an individual’s substance abuse that they may not have the expertise to make. The best solution is to outline clear, consistent consequences to substance free workplace policy violations. If that is not possible, at the very least bring in a substance abuse professional to assess the individual and help guide HR through the decision making process.

The Human Resources Department can experience the benefits of a substance free workplace program without the burden. The HR to-do list is long enough, give them the gift of a substance free workplace program without asking for too much in return. If you need help outsourcing your substance free workplace program, contact us.


15 Questions Every Supervisor Should Be Able to Answer

Use this tool to ensure that all supervisors are able to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding a substance free workplace program. Add to the list internally as questions unique to your program arise. The goal is to answer as few questions as possible with “you’ll have to ask HR.”

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