Having employees who abuse drugs is a concern for many business owners because it creates a bigger risk of accidents, reduces productivity, increase absenteeism, etc. And with a recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management showing that “approximately 14 million people – about 10 percent of the U.S. workforce employed either full- or part-time, abuse alcohol and/or drugs,” there’s good reason for employers to be concerned.
As a result, some employers consider implementing workplace drug testing. Here are some pros and cons of this type of program.
Deters Against Drug Use
If it clearly states on a job description that your company implements drug testing, this can serve as a great deterrent. In the event that a person is a serious drug user, then they’ll be less likely to apply, and you can weed these individuals out before employing them. Or if a person does use drugs, they would be forced to quit and get clean in order to be employed. While this can’t eliminate employee drug use entirely, it can definitely help.
Minimizes Workplace Accidents
By using workplace drug testing, it’s reasonable to expect a noticeable decline in workplace accidents. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “drug-using employees are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident.” When you’re able to identify this problem and minimize the number of employees who engage in it, you should be able to significantly reduce accidents due to impairment, and thus create a safer workplace.
The same study from the NIDA found that “drug-using employees are also five times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim.” By taking a proactive approach to drug abuse, you’re much less likely to get hit with these claims. This way, your business won’t have to suffer if an employee is being irresponsible.
In terms of cons, perhaps the most glaring is how costly it can be to perform drug testing. Although the exact cost will vary depending upon whether it’s a urine test, hair sample, saliva, etc., it’s estimated that the national average is around $38 per test. While this may not be a deal for bigger companies with deep pockets, it can be problematic for many small to mid-sized businesses. This is especially true if you perform random testing on a continual basis
Not Always Effective
There’s also the issue of the accuracy of drug testing and how long it can pinpoint the use of certain substances. For example, marijuana can usually be detected for several weeks after using, but other substances like cocaine and heroin may not show up unless the person used them within the past few days.
Deciding whether or not you should perform workplace drug testing hinges upon a few different factors. By weighing the pros and cons, this should hopefully help you make the right decision for your company. For more advice on optimizing your workplace, please check out our management tips.