It’s no secret that the opioid epidemic is creating a crisis for America’s healthcare system and families, as both are ill-equipped to manage this burgeoning issue. Workplaces are also suffering, as many employees and job candidates cannot pass standard drug tests. This week’s spotlight is on one employer that is using creative tactics to tackle the crisis head on.
In John Stroup’s factory in Indiana, approximately 10 percent of job applicants fail the drug test, disqualifying them for employment. Like many other U.S. manufacturers, this caused Belden Inc. to be short-staffed, missing customer orders. In an already tight job market, where there is a shortage of skilled labor and record low unemployment, companies are facing an additional hurdle as the opioid epidemic sweeps the nation.
Stroup’s solution? If a desirable job applicant or a current employee fails a drug test, pay for an evaluation at a substance abuse treatment center. People deemed to have a low risk of becoming an addict are placed in a “non-dangerous” job before they are allowed to operate heavy equipment again, and they must pass random drug tests during their employment. People at high risk spend two months in an outpatient monitoring and treatment program, and earn a job if they make sufficient progress.
The cost to incent people to stop using drugs and to stay with Belden or be offered a job? Five thousand dollars per employee or potential worker.
This approach is probably only viable, however, in a labor market like the one the United States is experiencing today. If the tables turn and it becomes an employer’s market (more workers than jobs, organizations will have enough workers to choose from and this will cease to be a viable solution to an opioid epidemic that is not only hampering hiring, but also costing employers billions of dollars in healthcare spending.
WHAT CAN I DO? If your organization is experiencing similar issues, consider Belden’s approach and assess whether it may be a successful solution for you. Although largely untested, if you continue doing what you’ve always done, you will end up with the same results and problems. By all accounts, the drug epidemic is not going away any time soon, so you must be creative and proactive if you hope to defeat it.
Jill Christensen is an employee engagement expert, best-selling author, and international keynote speaker. She is a Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, authored the best-selling book, If Not You, Who?, and works with the best and brightest global leaders to improve productivity and retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth. Jill can be reached at +1.303.999.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.