Employer questionnaire

There can be a number of reasons why an organisation s profitability dips: it may be attributable to the state of the global economy or a decline in your business sector or maybe just an internal change that is affecting morale or management.

While these factors are typically the primary reasons for performance and productivity challenges, one issue is regularly overlooked as a potential contributor drug use in the workplace. Drugs can have a range of negative effects on your employees and can result in decreased focus, increased distraction, workplace accidents and conflicts, social issues and diminishing morale.

If you think drug use could potentially be a factor in your workplace, the following questionnaire will help provide initial insights. While, as stated in the explanations below, there are many factors potentially involved in affecting each performance measure, answering yes to more than one question suggests you should consider drug use as one of several possible factors when assessing decreasing productivity.

1. Has your organisation’s Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate increased?

There may be various reasons why your organisation is experiencing an increase in its Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate such as:

  • Poorly managed health and safety policies and procedures
  • Worker fatigue due to environmental conditions

But have you considered that employee drug use may be one of the reasons? As an example, cannabis use has been linked to:

  • Reduced co-ordination,
  • Reduced motor skills,
  • Slower reaction times
  • Impaired depth perception
  • Problems with attention span
  • Problems with focus and concentration

Amphetamines have been linked to:

  • Increased respiration and heart rate
  • Euphoria
  • Irritation
  • Aggression
  • Decreased focus (in the medium-to-long term)
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Addiction

2. Have the hours lost to staff absenteeism increased in your organisation?

Staff absenteeism may be attributable to a number of reasons, such as bullying and harassment, burnout, stress or low morale.

According to the National Drug Strategy Survey, 1% of people admitted missing days on the job or at study because of drug use in some industries, it was up to 3%. Have you considered that employee drug use may be one of the reasons for absenteeism? As an example, cannabis use has been linked to:

  • Increased risk of respiratory disease including cancer
  • Mental health problems
  • Decreased motivation
  • Increased lethargy in areas such as work and study

3. Have you noticed a dip in operational efficiency in your organisation?

Decreasing operational efficiency can be caused by many factors, such as:

  • Inadequate training
  • Poor working conditions
  • Poor job design
  • Excessive workloads

When considering the possible causes, also remember that employee drug use may be a factor. As an example, cannabis is the most commonly used drug in the workplace and can cause:

  • Reduced co-ordination,
  • Reduced motor skills,
  • Slower reaction times
  • Impaired depth perception
  • Decreased memory and learning difficulties
  • Problems with attention span
  • Problems with focus and concentration
  • Decreased motivation in areas such as study and work

Other drugs, such as methamphetamine, may be taken by employees to boost their productivity, focus or wakefulness, but in the medium-to-long term can have serious side effects and can actually decrease attention span and ability to perform tasks. Addiction also brings with it a range of work-place issues.

4. Have incidents of theft or dishonesty been reported in your organisation?

There could be different reasons for theft or dishonesty in the workplace such as:

  • opportunism
  • disgruntled employees

But it s always worth remembering that a drug habit is never cheap! A significant side effect of misuse of any drug is the ongoing cost and this just keeps increasing as addiction means a user needs more-and-more to get the same high feeling. In addition, studies have shown that those who use drugs like cannabis from an early age, have been linked to higher risk-taking behaviour such as theft to pay for drug use.

5. Have there been reports of deteriorating relationships or aggressive behaviour by an employee towards workmates, customers or management?

Changes and challenges in relationships are part of most workplaces they can be for the better, or to the detriment of people. A factor that may influence changes in relationships within the workplace, is circumstances that impact how a person feels about their job, the people they work with or their future prospects or security. Examples include:

  • Long working hours
  • Changes in the workplace
  • Perceived organisational injustice
  • Organisation restructure

While the above will likely have a big impact on employees, another factor to consider is employee drug use. As examples:

  • Although the use of cannabis typically causes a sedative effect, making the drug less likely to cause violence in users than other substances such as alcohol and stimulants (e.g. amphetamines and cocaine), sometimes when people use cannabis it can cause fear, anxiety, panic or paranoia, resulting in an aggressive outburst. For most people, once the effects of the drug wear off, their behaviour gradually improves.
  • When people are withdrawing from cannabis they can be irritable, sometimes leading to abusive or aggressive behaviour.

Irritation and aggression are side effects that may also be experienced by an employee who is using amphetamines.

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