Educating your employees about alcohol and other drug abuse is important:
It gives the program a high priority and says that everyone
in the organization needs to be involved"
It fosters a spirit of cooperation -- "Were all
in this together."
It helps to dispel myths about alcohol and other drug abuse
and acknowledges the impact of substance abuse on friends, family members, and coworkers.
It encourages employees to buy into the program and
reinforces the importance of addressing alcohol and other drug abuse in the workplace.
Setting the Tone
Your employee education program will be more effective if
it doesnt sound like a "from the top-down" mandate. How you communicate
with employees and the tone you take will be crucial to the success of your program.
|A positive approach...
. . . lets employees know the program is intended to improve the work environment for
everyone. The message is:
"This is the problem, and heres how you can
. . . supports employees:
"If you have a problem, we want to give you a chance
to get help."
A negative approach...
. . . takes a more punitive, judgmental attitude. The message is:
"Youd better watch out or you might be in
trouble. We have our eye on you."
. . . threatens and scares employees:
"One mistake and youre out of here."
Setting a positive tone doesnt mean
you have to coddle alcohol or other drug abusers. Some employees may need counseling or
drug treatment. Although the majority of your workforce probably do not have alcohol or
other drug problems, most employees welcome an organizations efforts to help
employees who do need it.
When and Where
There is no one right way to educate your employees. You
may want to start with a modest effort. Over time you may choose to add other elements to
the program. Employee education can include the following elements:
A meeting with staff members or department heads to explain
the organizations policy and the drug-free workplace program;
Informational materials about the companys program and
about alcohol and other drug abuse -- pamphlets, flyers, paycheck stuffers, home mailings,
free videos, and so on;
Posters and signs reminding employees that yours is a
drug-free workplace and that your worksite promotes healthy activities like smoking
cessation, regular exercise, and good eating habits.
The most important point is to keep the focus of the
program clear and consistent. Several small steps toward employee education throughout the
year are better than one large meeting with no follow up.
Even though this section of the kit is about employee
education, everyone benefits from education about alcohol and other drug abuse. Owners and
top management, supervisors, and employees at all levels need to know about the problems
associated with substance abuse and the benefits of a drug-free workplace program. To
ensure the success of your drug-free workplace program, ask all upper-level managers to
become familiar with the Employee Fact Sheets and the Supervisors Guide provided in
When resources for employee education are limited, at a
minimum you need to inform your employees about the companys drug-free workplace
policy. A policy briefing should address the following:
The rationale for the policy -- what the law requires, why
the program is important to your organization, and the cost of alcohol and other drug
problems in the workplace
Details of the policy, including the consequences for
Available help for employee problems, such as an employee
assistance program (EAP), if applicable, or referral to other local resources.
Providing your employees with some basic information about
alcohol and other drug abuse also reinforces your policy and communicates that you care
about their welfare. Extending the education to their family members can promote that
concept, and can improve the chance that a troubled employee will be identified by a
spouse or child. Providing basic information can be done through brief meetings, brochures
and other written materials, videos, home mailings, and so on. The content might include
Hazards of alcohol and other drug abuse in the workplace
(increased accidents, decreased productivity, etc.)
How to recognize a potential alcohol or other drug problem
of coworkers, family members, or friends (what to do and what not to do)
The nature of alcohol or other drug abuse and some ways
addiction can be treated
Available resources within the organization or in the
A variety of informational items are provided in this kit.
See the Supervisors Guide and the Employee Fact Sheets for more information about
alcohol and other drug abuse, addiction, and recovery, and for telephone numbers of
helpful resources. National, State, and local resource organizations also offer free
|___ Obtain and review materials. (See the Employee Fact
Sheets and Supervisors Guide for resources.) Also, some publishing companies sell
pamphlets to businesses. See the Employee Fact Sheets for a list of publishing companies
and telephone numbers.
___ Tell the person who will be distributing the materials to fill in the local resource
phone numbers in the spaces provided on the last page of each Employee Fact Sheet and on
___ Plan for informational sessions or distribution of materials over the long term
(rather than a one-shot presentation).
___ Involve key staff in planning and follow up.
___ Schedule follow up meetings and/or distribute materials on a regular basis.
___ Provide referral and resource lists.