Local businesses are being asked to participate in a statewide survey, which will ultimately be used to help increase the number of employable, drug-free workers in the state, administrators said.
The survey is intended to quantify the longstanding complaint from employers that they can’t find enough drug-free workers to fill open positions, while at the same time measuring the attitudes and practices of local businesses toward employees who test positive for drugs, said Andrea Hoff, director of prevention and early intervention at the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board of Montgomery County.
Hoff said she hopes the survey will encourage zero-tolerance employers to soften their attitudes towards employees with drug problems in effort to maintain workforce levels.
“The majority of people who abuse drugs are employed,” she said. “Instead of just firing them, and then struggling to fill their positions, we’re hoping more employers will send them to treatment to address their substance abuse issues, and give them a second-chance to keep their jobs.”
The local ADAMHS board is one of a number of key stakeholders in 17 Ohio counties helping to conduct the anonymous business survey, which is part of the Working Partners Drug-Free Workforce Community Initiative, sponsored by the state of Ohio and Working Partners — a Canal Winchester, Ohio-based consultancy that assists firms implementing drug-free workplace programs.
The survey targets small to medium-sized businesses that are less likely to drug test because of the cost, complexity and liability of potential lawsuits for illegal drug tests, said Karen Pierce, managing director at Working Partners.
Still, there has never been a more prescient time for all businesses to incorporate drug testing and drug abuse prevention programs, Pierce said.
“I’ve been in the business more than 25 years, and the changes I’ve seen in just the past couple of years in the workplace are like nothing I’ve seen before,” she said, referring specifically to the raging heroin epidemic that has killed thousands of Ohioans over the past few years, and the state’s new legalized medical marijuana laws. “Businesses really need to update their drug-free policies and make sure they have policies in place.”
Working Partners will offer technical assistance courses for businesses in each of the 17 counties where the survey is being conducted to help them decide what types of workplace drug policies might work best for them.
“Do I offer a second chance? Do I terminate? Does treatment even work? These are some of the questions we’ll help employers answer,” Pierce said. “The workplace can play a powerful role in terms of prevention and intervention, but the (drug) problem is not going to be solved overnight. It’s too big.”
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