If you have already made the decision to conduct drug tests for your employees, you surely must know by now that the program will be requiring loads of resources and efforts from your side. Setting up your key objectives of the drug testing procedure is only half of the deal. There are numerous other aspects to concentrate on as well, such as: how to get started, how to find quality drug test suppliers, how to document the results and so on.

It’s true that nowadays it can be very simple and less time consuming to conduct drug screening of your employees all by yourself. Meanwhile, there is no doubt that performing drug testing is a measurable responsibility as well. Moreover, simply taking the samples and waiting for results is nearly one-third of the job. Performing drug testing is actually a whole procedure, and you need to be aware of the entire flow of the complete process. So, this article will be dedicated to pointing out the 6 key points you need to be aware of, before conducting drug testing for your employees.

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Let’s go through the key points you need to consider while mapping out a drug testing program for your own company.  

  1. How Often you are Going to Conduct Drug Testing

The frequency of performing drug testing for your employees is a very important starting point of your entire planning process. Of course, a lot depends on the objectives of your drug testing strategy as well. There is surely a common practice when it comes to timing and occasions for performing the tests. An independent article 1 on “Drug Testing in the Workplace” by Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests that the most common types of drug testing for employees should include:

– Pre-employment drug testing

– Random testing of employees

– Post-accident testing

– Employee drug screening in case of reasonable suspicion

– A follow-up to previous tests

– Regular/ fixed drug testing (once in a month, 6 months, a year etc.)

You surely may choose to follow the common practice, which may work perfectly well for you as well. But it also can be a good idea to consider the specifics of your own business; after all, who knows your company better than you? Each case is unique, and if, for example, the area of your business is directly connected with safety-critical activities, you may require very frequent and multiple types of employee drug testing. Meanwhile, in case the area of your business is less sensitive to dangerous activities, some drug tests may not even be necessary to perform at all, and once a year drug screening can be enough. A lot comes with experience as well, so, you can basically come up with your own frequency after a while, in order to make sure the selected method suits your business goals the best.   

  1. How Much you are Ready to Invest in Workplace Drug Screening

Although nowadays you have multiple choices to use cost-effective and fast drug test kits that provide clear results, performing drug testing for the entire company requires some investments; and especially if we are talking about a large company, initially planning how much of financial resources and time you are ready to spend on workplace drug screening is essential. At the same time, as confirmed 2 by EHS Today as well, employers that require workplace drug testing, end up hiring a more effective workforce. And hence, the more carefully selected employees always result in positive ROI which surely outweighs the initial cost of a program.   

The good news is that you have many convenient options on the market. Easy-to-use drug testing kits are one of the cheapest and most effective methods to use. Depending on the size and activities of your company, as well as your key objectives and company goals, your drug test supplier should be able to guide you to the options that will fit into your budget.

  1. Which Drug Tests you are Going to Use

Large range of available drug test options can also make your job harder, considering the time on research you need to spend on exploring even the most common ones. Especially, if you are new to drug testing, it can be rather challenging as well. There are so many drug test suppliers out there, that it’s not a sin to get confused and choose the options which may not be the most effective ones for your case. In fact, many official State Health Organisations categorize applying wrong drug tests as one of the most common errors among employers.  

Choosing the types of tests that you will need to purchase is another important decision you are going to make. You may need to concentrate on:

–    Drug test type (urine, hair, oral etc.)

–    Specific substance detection (alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines etc.)

–    General screening (multi-panel tests for most common substances).

Sounds like lots of important decisions to be made; and, here is where you need a professional’s opinion or advice; but isn’t it costly? Luckily, some leading and trusted drug test suppliers offer free consulting from their professionals, in addition to putting the info you need to know in a simple language. So, even if you are not closely familiar with the field specifics, in the case of choosing the right supplier, you will be most probably quick to catch up and choose an efficient option to go for.

Promote Drug-Free Workplace

  1.    How to Promote Drug-Free Workplace Concept Among Employees

The matter of taking drug tests in the workplace still remains controversial among many employees. As a smart employer, you may find it your responsibility to find the best way to promote a drug-free workplace environment for your workers. For your employees to understand and respect your company drug screening policy is more important than some may think. Here are some ideas you may find useful:

–    A good idea is to conduct regular seminars, small sessions on the benefits and importance of workplace drug testing.

–    Not less important is to have a clear and simple-written drug-free workplace policy for all the employees.

–    It is easier to respect the policy if one fully understands it, so make sure your employees understand how the entire drug testing process goes, what your objectives are, and what they should expect to get out of it all.  

–    You can also use some posters or writings on the visible areas of your building and facilities that promote a drug-free workplace.

  1.    Main Ways Employees may be Able to Fake Drug Test Results

Where there are tests, there are always ways to cheat… While nowadays drug testing kits provide clear and trustful results, some individuals can still be able to come up with ways to distort the picture. Investing some time in exploring the common ways that your employees may be able to fake drug test results can be very rewarding. Some useful pieces of advice include:

–    Accurately follow the process of collecting samples for each employee

–    Use follow-up/ back-up drug testing in case of suspicion.

  1.    How you are Going to Deal with Test Positive Employees

Unfortunately, as you proceed with drug testing, in some cases you may come up with test positive results. And hence, you need to know in advance how you are going to deal with these cases. Immediately fairing the employee, who happened to abuse certain substances is not always the most constructive solution. In a recent article 3, Society of Human Resource Management suggests that it actually may be more cost-effective to invest in an employee assistance program for more compassionate use of company funds, and valuable employee retention.  It is also true that sometimes, the general rule may not be appropriate for just everyone. In the case of, for example, valuable employees, or frequent drug-abuse cases, you will probably need to have a specific approach to the issue. But still, having a clear initially planned strategy of dealing with drug-positive cases can be useful.

As it becomes clearer that conducting workplace drug testing can involve many important aspects besides the actual test performance, the planning process becomes more and more important. Careful planning and adjustment of your drug test policy to the needs of your own company are essential. While at the beginning the planning process may require more time and efforts from your side, your further job will eventually become so much easier; just like in anything else.

Article Resources and Citations

  1. Drug Testing In The Workplace. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/default/files/jrf/migrated/files/185935212x.pdf
  2. EHS Today. Drug Testing: How Both Employers and Employees Benefit. Retrieved from https://www.ehstoday.com/standards/osha/ehs_imp_36028
  3. Employers turning their backs on drug testing. Society of Human Resource Management. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-news/pages/cms_016599.aspx