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Assessing Your Workplace Needs & Why It Matters

Conducting a needs assessment helps you learn what types of substance misuse problems your organization is facing and discover ways to overcome them. Each workplace has its own challenges related to health and wellness. According to Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), when addressing your workplace needs you should consider asking these questions:

  • Is your organization experiencing a high rate of absenteeism and tardiness?

  • Is your organization employing individuals in safety- and security sensitive industries?

  • What are the gaps in your policies and procedures that would prevent employees from getting the help they need?

  • Does your organization conduct federally funded projects?

  • Is your organization in the transportation sector, with mandated drug testing requirements under regulations from the Department of Transportation?

  • Does your organization have a high prevalence of substance use problems?

  • Does your organization employ a population of workers for whom prevention education is critical?

A recovery responsive workplace policy and program are required for organizations with federally funded projects. At a minimum, a written policy, supervisor training and employee education must be in place. If your organization is in a sector with mandated drug-testing requirements your policy and program must follow the requirements for testing.


The Assessment Process

SAMHSA also recommends when doing a needs assessment, you should consider involving all major sectors of your workforce. No one person will understand what is happening throughout the workplace, so including all team members is important. You'll want to make sure the members of the recovery responsive workplace team are representative of all of your employees to reflect their racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity.


Employees will be more likely to cooperate in your new policy and programs if they are brought into the process early. Many businesses have found that cooperation, collaboration, and shared responsibility are critical to developing and implementing a successful recovery responsive workplace policy and program.


Developing Your Plan of Action

If you suspect that significant alcohol, prescription drug, or other substance use issues are costing your organization money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and/or damaged goods, now is the time to bring in an outside expert. Recovery Business Association can help you design a formal study tailored to the particular circumstances and needs of your workplace. Taking enough time to understand the situation thoroughly will help you target your efforts and resources where you need them most. By concentrating on a set of goals that are broader than just "the reduction or elimination of drug misuse in the workplace," you will get more cooperation for actions that must take place to transform your workplace and improve your bottom line.


Utilizing Quantitative and Qualitative Techniques

Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative techniques to help you gain a fuller understanding of how substance misuse might be impacting your workplace. It's critical to gather this information at the very beginning of your recovery responsive workplace planning process to help you identify the issues relevant to you and your employees. This information is used to help you develop and implement a customized plan of action.


Quantitative approaches generally rely on survey questionnaires, administrative data, and statistical analyses while our qualitative approaches use observations, in-depth interviews, and focus groups to identify and contextualize the situation within your organization. Once this information is obtained and organized, you can develop a formal plan to help you move in your desired direction.