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Developing Best Practices to Maintain a Recovery Responsive Workplace

Beyond lower absenteeism, increased productivity, reduced workers’ compensation filings and fewer accidents, the benefits from implementing a recovery responsive workplace program also include other savings, such as improved employee creativity and emotional stability.


Reports have shown that while minor, these changes can enhance your organization's bottom line. SAMHSA has identified four ways to better enforce your newly established recovery responsive workplace programs:


  1. Develop a Written Policy: To create a recovery responsive workplace, you must first develop a policy that outlines which behaviors are acceptable, which are unacceptable, and how you will support employees engaging in unacceptable behaviors to ensure your workplace is safe and employees are inspired and empowered.

  2. Educate Employees: You must take the time to educate employees so they understand the policy and feel empowered to make good choices. By explaining to employees why the new policy is necessary and the risks of substance use in the workplace, you give your employees the understanding they need to support and follow through. Education through hands on training is the way to go.

  3. Build a Culture of Support: If you have employees who have struggled with substance misuse in the past (or who have a family history of substance misuse), try to rally these individuals to create a supportive community within your organization. When employees can connect with one another during times of struggle, they’re much less likely to feel isolated and desperate.

  4. Utilize EAP's and Peer Support: If you truly want your workplace to be substance free, you can’t spend all of your time reprimanding employees who are struggling. This will only make those employees feel ashamed and possibly even spiteful. Once considered a ‘moral’ problem, addiction is now deemed a complex disease of the brain and body by most medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Medicine. This means addiction isn’t a choice, so you'll want to provide assistance programs to employees in need of them. At a minimum, have resources on hand that you can give to employees to connect them with community-based organizations, treatment centers, peer support specialists, helplines, and/or counselors. Not only does this give employees options to pursue, but it also shows you care.


After assessing your workplace’s needs, RBA will sit down with your team to help you identify the purpose, goals, benefits, assurances, and definitions of your workforce policy, as well as the laws and regulations your organization is subject to. Following this, RBA will assist you in developing a customized implementation strategy so you can effectively communicate your new policy to your diverse teams and then put this policy into action. Our policy services include: support to write your official statement of purpose and policy, employee policy training, and more.