Random Drug Testing: The Benefits Outweigh the Cost
Most executives would agree that preemployment drug testing is important to the success of their companies, especially those in safety-sensitive industries. Hiring the wrong person can have devastating effects on employee morale and can be a huge safety liability. Requiring post-offer, preemployment drug tests are obviously a no-brainer. But, as job seekers, most candidates know that if they’re offered a position it’ll be contingent on passing a drug test. So, if they’re going to pass any test, this is the one! They know it’s coming.
Over the years I’ve had some candidates fail preemployment testing but I’ve had way more fail during a random test. This shows me that new hire candidates were prepared for their tests and had time to “study” but were unable or unwilling to remain drug-free as employees. All too often companies limit their drug testing to preemployment and don’t initiate a random drug testing program because of inconvenience and cost. Here are some reasons to change that mindset:
An employee using drugs is an obvious safety risk. Do you really want your equipment operators blitzed out of their minds running the new machine you just paid thousands of dollars for? I bet the answer is a resounding “no!”. The possibility of equipment damage, property damage, personal injury, and even death is a risk that companies shouldn’t be willing to take. One catastrophic event can cripple or even shut down a once-profitable organization and destroy lives in the process.
Some of the common attributes of an employee with a drug problem are increased absenteeism (especially Mondays and Fridays), unexplained tardiness, habitually leaving early, and frequent disappearances for extended periods of time. When employees are absent, other employees have to take up the slack and there’s a good chance that shortcuts are being utilized or something isn’t getting done at all. It also creates tension with good reliable employees. Nobody wants double duty!
Frequent drug use is often accompanied by a number of health risks. Drugs like heroin, PCP, cocaine, and prescription opioids can cause severe kidney and liver damage, stroke, heart failure, and even death. Controlling these risks will make the overall workforce healthier and reduce insurance claims which, in turn, reduces insurance costs. Healthy employees will be happy employees, and happy employees are productive employees.
Along with drug use comes various aspects of what employers define as a “poor attitude”. Some employees become argumentative, grouchy, and just generally difficult to get along with. Nobody wants to be around “that” guy as it affects even the best-natured workers. Other characteristics of a poor attitude are neglect of duty, laziness, and apathy regarding anything work-related. Employees that don’t care usually aren’t the most productive employees.
Getting rid of drug problems in the workplace is huge for the success of a company but keeping the clean employees honest is just as important. A truly random drug testing program can deter casual use which is beneficial for both employer and employee. Knowing that your number might come up for the next test is a good reason to just say “no” the next time temptation presents itself.
Random drug testing can be time-consuming and sometimes expensive depending on the amount of testing you do. The alternative, however, is way more costly in the long run. Don’t take chances, adopt a random drug testing program and buy in to the benefits. Your employees will thank you in the long run.
Mark F. Munger, MBA, SPHR