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Managers and supervisors tend to watch for certain signs among their employees that can be evidence of drug use: a new pattern of being late to work, an increase in the number of mistakes, changes in attitude, etc.

All of these are common signals that a team member might be abusing drugs or alcohol, and watching for these signs is a way of caring for employees to ensure they and the team stay safe and healthy.

Supervisors and HR managers are often hesitant to order drug tests, though, because there are other reasons that negative behaviors might crop up at work: relationship troubles, medical concerns, problems with sleep, financial worries, and many more. Bosses might be hesitant to suspect drug use right away; most are inclined to give team members the benefit of the doubt. That certainly seems to be one of the ways we operate in friendly Bellingham, Lynden and Ferndale.

That’s all good. There’s nothing wrong with thinking the best of the team members at your Whatcom County business. After all, you hired your workers because you trust them to do a good job.

On the other hand, however, it’s important that employees who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol not be allowed to work; such situations are a danger to workers, customers and the business as a whole. Here’s what to do:

1. Establish a drug policy that clearly lays out your Whatcom County company’s policy regarding drug use and drug testing. The policy should make it clear that being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at work is not allowed. The policy also should include language that makes drug testing a condition of employment, and the policy should note that drug tests may be conducted randomly or when drug or alcohol abuse is suspected. A good company drug policy also will establish procedures for drug testing, so that bosses know how to conduct drug tests legally.

2. Talk with employees regularly about drug and alcohol use. Team members should know that drug and alcohol abuse are not permitted; employees should know that managers are on their side and will support them however possible.

3. When specific situations come up that might cause business leaders to suspect that a team member might be having a problem, it’s important that the employee’s supervisor talk with him or her about the behaviors. Perhaps the issue is not one of alcohol or drugs, but with a solid workplace drug policy in place, supervisors can always check for drug use as the first step toward finding a good way to support the employee. The conversation could go something like this: “We’ve been noticing some issues with your work performance of late. You’re an important member of this team, and we want to do everything we can to help you. Let’s rule out drugs as a possibility so we can move forward.”

Bostec Inc. has extensive experience in crafting workplace drug policies for companies in Lynden, Bellingham, Ferndale and throughout Whatcom County. Working with Bostec, HR staff, company owners and managers can learn to recognize drug and alcohol abuse and develop drug and alcohol policies that comply with state and federal laws and that help ensure team members aren’t under the influence at work.

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