New Year, new inductees: getting workplace drug education right from day one

New employee induction is the ideal time to educate your employees about your workplace drug and alcohol policy.


While in recent times there has been some debate around the use of random drug testing in the workplace, there is no doubt that use of drugs and alcohol before or during work can have some big effects on clients, workmates and managers. The types of effects this behaviour can have are not always obvious, with most people thinking of drug-related safety incidents, but failing to see the impact that drug and alcohol use can have on team dynamics, competency, productivity and ultimately, your bottom line.

As HR and safety professionals, managers or even SME owners or directors, ensuring your employees and teams understand your organisation s drug and alcohol policy is crucial. Perhaps more importantly, ensuring they personally accept it and conduct themselves in accordance with it, can mean the difference between falling revenue and in some extreme cases, life and death.

Though many people first think of workplace drug problems as being a blue collar issue, research shows this is not the case, with white collar industries having their fair share or drug-related issues also. Some industries can be worse than others, as seen in our workplace cannabis use survey from 2014, but the fact remains that regardless of whether drug use is a limited or overwhelming problem in your workplace, it only takes one person to take down a team or to injure themselves or someone else.

Workplace drug education is vital and getting it right from your employee s first day can be just as crucial. Here are some quick tips and thinking points to help you ensure your workplace drug education is up to scratch.

Develop a drug and alcohol policy

Before educating your employees, make sure your organisation has a clear cut drug and alcohol policy that spells out what is not acceptable and why, how use or potentially harmful behaviour may be identified, the course of action should someone be found to have drugs in their system and regulation around testing if it is conducted. This drug and alcohol policy should guide your entire organisation and underpin education.

Identify risks

Risk management and mitigation is an essential practice in any workplace regardless of the size. With drug use possibly resulting in injury, workers compensation and a savage blow to your bottom line and to your biggest asset your people it is a significant risk to consider. As a management team, it is important to identify and acknowledge not only the types of behaviours you should be keeping an eye out for when monitoring for drug use, but also keeping an ear to the ground for personal or workplace incidents that might trigger use, such as harassment, grief or stress.

Kicking off communication

As you know, your workplace induction program is a highly valuable tool for communicating to new employees what they should expect from your organisation and what you expect from them. Induction should include information about your drug and alcohol policy and build understanding of the consequences of use before or at work.

For some organisations, induction, and especially this safety information, can be a little dry and not overly engaging yet given its importance, employees should really be hanging on every word. In presenting workplace drug educaiton, it is often a good idea to step away from talking AT your new people, and instead get them involved in the conversation through discussions and interactive activities. Understanding the workplace drug and alcohol policy as a team is important now, so they can monitor for drug use and manage it as a team in the future if it arises. We have some great information tools you can use for workplace drug education and employee induction already, and in March 2015, will be releasing an all new multimedia kit with information and activities to get your people up and out of their seats during induction, so they think more about drug use at work.

Make workplace drug education ongoing

Induction is important, but it s also a day when new people learn a million names, try to look good in front of senior managers, take building and site tours and generally learn more than most brains can process in one hit. To ensure the robustness of your workplace drug education, make sure drugs and alcohol in the workplace become part of an open and ongoing discussion, with future training and learning opportunities.

For more information on this topic, check out our factsheet on cannabis in the workplace.