There are many areas where mistakes can occur in communicating a drug testing service to your staff.
Here are three guiding steps to help you avoid the usual pitfalls:
Get the Message Right – Morality or Safety?
Everyone has an opinion around drugs and alcohol and our opinions are often informed by what we read, our backgrounds and our personal experiences. One of the biggest mistakes we see particularly in policy development and in considering sanctions for breach of drug and alcohol policy is approaching the issue from a moral perspective.
The primary reason for drug and alcohol testing is to address safety and productivity concerns. What a staff member does in their private life is of no concern to their employer unless the staff member is representing the employer.
For this reason, differentiating discipline based on levels of concentration of a drug or based on different drug types are generally not recommended. The Australian Standards for drugs of abuse identify specific concentrations above which a person is considered to have tested positive. If a person tests positive for a drug, they are not safe to stay at work. In general, this is the only consideration.
Similar to the communication process, consultation is another area where it is easy to make a mistake. It is key to the successful implementation of the drug testing service that your communication be a two-way street. Many organisations neglect the power of a negotiated implementation of a policy.
To ensure that all stakeholders understand your intent to protect their safety, you need to have a detailed discussion with all levels of your organisation and at least consider staff concerns in development of your drug and alcohol strategy, policy and procedures.
Detailed consultation from the beginning saves a world of pain later at implementation. Consider developing an FAQ page and consider education and awareness sessions in addition to seeking input from stakeholders.
Probably the worst mistake we see regularly is organisations who commence drug and alcohol testing their staff without warning and without allowing staff prepare themselves for testing mentally as well as ensuring that they have had a chance to modify their behaviours if necessary.
Many employers fall into this trap in part because they think it will assist in “catching” staff out doing the wrong thing. Instead, what happens is that staff lose trust in their employer and see it as a lack of trust in their integrity.
No one likes to be caught by surprise and not be given the opportunity to ask questions, be consulted and engaged. Many staff see testing as a breach of privacy and an invasion which it actually is. Drug and Alcohol testing is an invasion of privacy only justified by the need to ensure a safe workplace.
Develop a communication strategy that ensure that all levels of your organisation have plenty of warning before testing commences.