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Committing to Employee Wellness

Establishing a workforce culture that supports employee wellness and retention begins at the top level of an organization with the leadership and board of directors, particularly in a workplace with a unique vulnerability to substance use and misuse.


Organizational policies and actions should express that the agency takes employee substance use and misuse very seriously, but operates on the belief that recovery is possible and it should be available not only to clients, but to staff as well.


Establishing an Environment of Wellness


There are many policies and employee benefits that can help employers provide preventive services and intervene with employees who experience substance misuse problems. An effective recovery responsive policy relies on other workforce policies to create a seamless and effective response.


It is helpful for employers to envision a set of related benefits. Whenever possible, benefits should be developed as a package that helps meet agency goals, including supporting employee wellness.


Financial challenges put constant pressure on agencies to limit their attempts to provide a robust set of benefits. In a challenging fiscal environment, viewing benefits as an interconnected set of tools for promoting wellness can lead to creative solutions. For example, strengthening EAP services or disability benefits may help fill gaps where a health insurance package falls short, as well as providing evidence-based peer support services, such as Recovery Employment Coaches.


Other options could include salary replacement to help employees pay for treatment that insurance doesn’t cover or negotiating with an EAP and recovery employment coach agency to provide several sessions of services rather than just an assessment.


By providing a variety of wellness services for employees who are experiencing substance misuse, companies show that they not only care for their employees overall health and well-being, but they will ultimately improve their bottom line by decreasing absenteeism and tardiness, reducing employee turn-over and related healthcare costs, increasing morale and productivity, and alleviating stress in the workplace, which leads to empowered managers and co-workers.