Alcohol and Drugs Costing Workplaces Billions
15 July 2013 at 12:08 pm
Alcohol and drug use is costing Australian businesses $5.2 billion a year in hidden lost productivity and absenteeism, according to a report prepared for the Australian Drug Foundation.
Workplace drug and alcohol experts Dr Ken Pidd and Professor Ann Roche revealed in The Policy Talk paper that alcohol use was responsible for 5% of all Australian workplace deaths, and up to 11% of non-fatal injuries.
Australian Drug Foundation Head of Workplace Services, Phillip Collins said the annual cost of absenteeism due to alcohol alone was estimated at up to $1.2 billion.
“The costs of lost productivity or absenteeism due to alcohol and other drugs are well hidden in most businesses,” he said.
“Employers and HR departments simply don’t have enough information to attribute the days of work their staff are missing as being due to drug and alcohol use.”
“Alcohol and other drug use, especially when it’s outside work hours, is a hard issue for many businesses to deal with. Many resort to targeting individual ‘problem’ employees, which is misguided. This paper we’ve just released about good practice workplace programs shows there are much better ways for businesses to respond.”
Collins said a preventive alcohol and drug workplace program could help organisations of any size become healthier, happier and more productive.
He said businesses who implemented good practice alcohol and drug programs used an approach tailored for their workplace.
“Each workplace has its own unique customs, practices and conditions which impact the workplace culture, and drug use, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer unfortunately,” he said.
“There are, however, four basic components central to any effective workplace alcohol and drug program.
“Workplaces need to develop and implement a sound formal written alcohol and drug policy which fits the organisation’s needs and addresses workplace specific risks.
“Education and training about drugs and alcohol is necessary to ensure employees understand your organisation’s policy and have enough information about alcohol and drugs in the workplace, including the risks of harm.
“Employees need to have access to confidential counselling and treatment services, and they should be provided with paid or unpaid leave to attend sessions. By investing in providing access to these services, organisations can avoid the financial costs and loss of morale amongst co-workers associated with employee dismissals.
“Ongoing evaluation of alcohol and other drug programs is essential to long term effectiveness. Like any business program, we need to regularly review and improve processes to make sure they reflect changes in the workforce or improvements that can be made.”
Read the Australian Drug Foundation’s PolicyTalk paper.