How important is workplace culture in keeping your company drug free? While many think of an office environment as things such as equipment and products, what really makes a workplace run is the people behind the business.
The best way to prevent drug use in the workplace is to have processes and programs in place for managing employees that first deter drug users from applying, and then by creating a work atmosphere that supports personal development and self-care.
If your company has already created a clear Substance Abuse Policy, then a majority of would-be applicants that are drug users will likely not apply for positions at your company. Maintaining a “No Tolerance” policy is not just about keeping your company free of the many pitfalls that come with drug use in the workplace, but also about a greater responsibility to create an alternative choice in workplace culture to that which accepts drug use.
A proven route for promoting workplace wellness is to create a regular program that offers information about the impact of drug use, and resources for adopting healthier alternatives. These alternatives can take the form of having guest speakers or practitioners of health-related services visit the office, providing healthy snack options instead of junk food during breaks, or by creating activity programs which create healthy competition among employees.
Below are some great examples of wellness activities that will keep the focus on self care, and lead the way towards preventing drug use in the workplace:
Start Celebrating “Wellness Wednesday”
The key to a successful Wellness Program is regularity. What better way to get employees through the rest of the week than to dedicate the middle of the week to wellness topics? Form a wellness committee, or place a person (usually someone volunteers to do this) in charge of wellness in your office be in charge of planning weekly informational sessions with healthy snacks. Doing so will accomplish a few important things:
Firstly, it will get employees involved, even if they’re only there for the free food at first. Secondly, having a regular discussions and opportunities for exposure to health topics will encourage experimentation with such activities. Just like exposure to drugs creates familiarity and an eventual relationship to drugs which might seem normal, the same applies to wellness – the more an employee sees and knows, the more likely they are to try it out.
Participate in a 5k Run
A great way to unite employees and encourage healthy camaraderie is to sponsor their participation in a local 5k race. Research local fundraising races and offer to cover the registration fees for any of your employees who want to join. Of course, some training days should be scheduled in advance of the day of the race, so that employees can train together and learn how to run properly and safely if they aren’t currently participating in such physical activities.
As the employer, you could supply them with company T-shirts, or other branded gear to support them in the completion of the race. Taking pictures and sharing them on a bulletin board is a great way to spread the fun of such an event, and might encourage a new person to join in for the next race.
Start a 7 Hour Sleep Challenge
Getting a good night’s rest promotes wellness without much effort! Start a 7 hour sleep challenge in your office, and whoever accomplishes the most nights of good sleep at the end of the month gets a prize!
Since drugs are often used to change one’s personal energy level, addressing energy from the source – that of getting enough sleep in addition to enough physical activity during the day, will promote a healthier group of employees. The benefits of getting enough sleep are many. Getting enough sleep has been shown to decrease the risk of heart attack, lower blood pressure, and inflammation in the body. Sleep also has been shown to prevent depression, regulate metabolism, promote creativity, decrease stress levels, improve cognitive and memory function, increase one’s ability to focus, and might also help your employees live longer.
As an alternative to an office-wide sleep challenge, perhaps creating an area for napping will encourage your employees to get the rest they need during their breaks. Even short naps, also known as “power naps”, help people regain focus and lower stress at work.
Use Holidays to Celebrate Health
Holidays are the perfect time to make sure your employees are staying healthy. While family stresses and personal matters may get more intense around these times, knowing that when they come to work, they will be in an environment where they will be able to make smart and healthy choices empowers them both on and off the clock.
Instead of bringing in cookies, sweets, and rich foods during these special times, opt for healthy alternative. For example, holding a Thanksgiving potluck of healthier versions of traditional foods, offering green smoothies on St. Patrick’s day, fresh strawberries or red peppers and hummus on Valentine’s day will naturally promote wellness while reducing employee stress which could otherwise lead to drug or alcohol abuse use during these times of the year.
Also, encourage the creation of discussions or memory boards among employees who may be suffering during the holidays due to losing a close friend or family member. This will create the awareness that not everyone gets into the same spirit during these times, and will give everyone the opportunity to show respect for each other, particularly to those who need emotional support during these times.
Post your company’s values and core mission all around
Knowing why an organization is run the way it is inspires employees in their everyday activities. Find a spot with a lot of foot traffic, like a waiting area or employee break room, that will encourage employees to take the time to read the signs. Make the signs big, bold, and inspiring.
Sharing your company’s goals and values gives employees a feeling of purpose in their daily work, and can lead to heightened moods and a more positive workplace morale. It is also appropriate to take pride in the fact that your company is drug free. Putting up signs around the office that celebrate this, or that share the number of days the workplace has been drug free, will promote everyone being on the same team.
Celebrate Work Anniversaries
Making your employees feel valued is the key to having a thriving workplace. Taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate work anniversaries is an incentive to stay with a company for a longer period of time, and creates a more personal bond between an employee and employer. Creating mutual respect is the key for maintaining company standards, and your employees are more likely to follow the rules when they feel truly valued.
Sometimes, an employee might already be in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction. If they would like to be recognized for their accomplishment in sobriety, then by all means, be sure to recognize these employees either on a bulletin board, at a meeting, or in a newsletter. These employees become the best advocates for those who might be privately struggling with an addiction, and become an excellent support system when someone needs help or is returning to work after probation.
If you employees make it through a year without a drug-related incident, DO throw them a party! Celebrating a drug free workplace each year is a great way to instill a sense of personal responsibility and ownership in employees who are doing the right thing.
Host a Tea Time
While coffee has become a staple in many offices, having an area for hot teas, particularly herbal teas with calming or wellness benefits, will create a spa-like environment at work. Creating an area to fix tea with supportive messages and quotes that inspire personal reflection and wellness will keep your employees focused on self-care while at work.
If your company has an outdoor area for breaks, give this area a little sprucing up. Make an area for those non-smokers who might want to enjoy their tea outdoors. Placing fragrant herbs and plants all around, or perhaps adding a small garden to walk through will make Teatime a relaxing way to make use of break time at work.
Shine A Light on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects primarily individuals who live in areas with limited exposure to direct sunlight during Winter months. When the coldest months arrive, a lack of daily light intake cause individuals to experience severe depression, lethargy, significantly decreased productivity levels, that can be traced back to primordial hibernation tendencies.
If you notice the energy level around the office reaching a low in winter months, adding additional lights, particularly those which are known to have adequate UV exposure that could properly mimic natural sunlight, your employees will benefit in their moods and even in their circadian sleep patterns.
Provide Company Branded Health Goodies
Water is nature’s best kept health secret. Encourage your employees to drink their fair share by providing them with water bottles that are imprinted with your company’s logo. Many exciting new water dispensing machines are on the market which offer infused and flavored waters on demand, which could help employees abstain from sugar filled energy drinks, or taking energy-producing drugs while at work.
Other health-related company goodies could be non-physical, or service related. Partnering with a local fitness club to offer a reduced membership rate to your employees is a great way to support a healthy lifestyle. Scheduling a company event in the park with a certified Yoga Instructor (and perhaps you could offer yoga mats to go along with the event), or a day where a masseuse comes in for 15 minute sessions for each employee in the office are other ways to give the gift of wellness.
Snack subscription services are now available, which deliver a selection of goods according to whichever frequency best suits your workplace. Ordering a regular delivery of healthy snacks is a sure way to make your employees feel appreciated.
The Effects of Wellness Programs on Workplace Drug Use
How does feeling valued and part of a team decrease drug use in the workplace? Just as children need the support of friends and family, adults continue to have these social emotional needs as they navigate the ups and downs of life.
Most people don’t expect an employer to become a major support system, but many employees of companies with active social engagement programs will tell you that their fellow employees are like family. A workplace becomes an extension of a person’s personal identity, and when they feel encouraged and supported to be their best at work, they will take steps toward being their best when they’re off the clock, and may naturally avoid the negative effects of substance abuse.
When a person is surrounded by health, they will choose the easiest route, and so it becomes part of your company’s goal to make the clearest path the one that leads to wellness.