Supporting Employee Recovery

Supporting Employee Recovery

In today's workforce, the impact of addiction (substance use disorder) on employees is a reality many businesses face. Substance use disorders are complex and affect not only personal lives but also professional productivity and well-being. As small business owners, you have a unique opportunity to support your employees through their recovery journey. By implementing thoughtful strategies and creating a supportive environment, you can make a significant difference in the lives of those struggling with addiction.

Start by educating yourself and your management team about addiction and recovery. Understanding the nature of addiction as a chronic disease helps reduce stigma and enables managers to identify signs of addiction and offer appropriate support. Training should cover treatment options, legal considerations, and company policies regarding addiction support.

Once that’s done, take a close look at your company's drug-free workplace policy. Ensure it emphasizes support and rehabilitation rather than punititive responses when appropriate. Encourage employees to seek help without fear of repercussions. Clearly outline available resources and support services within the policy and reiterate this policy regularly with employees.

Create an overall workplace culture that prioritizes employee wellness. Implement programs promoting mental health and addiction recovery. Ensure workloads are manageable and realistic to minimize stress. Lead by example by promoting healthy behaviors and limiting alcohol availability at company events.

Encourage employees to seek professional treatment and provide assistance in accessing it. When possible, offer flexibility with sick leave, FMLA, or temporary leave to accommodate their recovery journey. Ensure that you maintain confidentiality regarding employees seeking addiction treatment. Only disclose information on a need-to-know basis and involve HR and relevant managers in providing support.

Schedule regular check-ins with employees post-treatment to assess their progress and address any challenges. If available, offer accommodations such as flexible schedules to attend support groups to aid in their recovery process.

Hold all employees to the same standards outlined in company policies. Avoid making exceptions and document performance issues consistently. Seek legal guidance when necessary, especially concerning terminations. Navigating legal obligations surrounding addiction support can be complex. Consult legal experts to ensure compliance with regulations such as ADA, FMLA, and HIPAA.

Supporting employees through addiction requires commitment and empathy, but the impact on their lives and your business can be profound. By following these best practices, you can create a workplace culture that fosters recovery and empowers employees to overcome addiction challenges. Together, we can build a healthier and more supportive work environment for everyone.

Source: Gibbons, S. (2023, October 20). How to support employees overcoming Addiction. Forbes.