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Difficult Conversations: Employees Who Are Suspected of Using Drugsfrom: Neil Stolmaker
First Things First
Before you decide to confront an employee who is a possible drug user, you should have documented your reasons. You or a supervisor will have noted evidence of their performance, behavioral symptoms or physical signs which indicates that an employee may be using drugs. You want to have this evidence written down.
Privacy is key
When you decide to confront an employee about possible drug use, you want to make sure that it is in private. It is a bad idea to have a confrontation in a public area, and it may even be illegal. If a supervisor was involved in noting the behaviors and signs of drug abuse, you will probably want to have that individual present at the meeting. Make this decision carefully however, because the accused employee is more likely to be honest if he or she doesn't feel "ganged up" on.
Refer to your company policy
This is where it is important that you have a company policy that is clear and specific on what steps are taken in this situation. It is likely that you will have already decided to order a "reasonable suspicion" drug test. If you have enough evidence to confront an employee, you will want to settle the matter quickly and only a drug test can really do that. It is also important that your company policy spells out what happens if the drug test is positive. The employee should also understand the consequences of a positive test as well as the consequences of a refusal to test.
Confrontation is tough
It is never easy to call an employee into your office for a talk that could lead to hostility or angry feelings. If you can present your side with frankness and compassion, the conversation may lead you both to a better understanding of the situation. Whether the employee does or does not have a problem with drugs, you can usually find a way to begin the process that can help your employee and your company.
Neil Stolmaker is the President of ON-SITE Medical Testing Inc. OSMTI provides low-cost, high quality substance abuse testing programs to businesses and organizations. Our focus is on empowering employers and employees to work together for safe, drug free workplaces. Our web site offers tips and help for employers of all kinds. http://www.osmti.com
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