When employees face the reality of mandatory drug and alcohol testing they often feel resentment toward their employer for being required to undergo the process. Yet in today’s world such testing is, more often than not, an official part of every credible employment contract. What, then, is the origin of employee resentment? And what, if anything, should employers do to overcome, sidestep, or diminish employee concerns?
Resentment toward Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing
It seems ironic that employee resentment for workplace drug testing (and workplace alcohol testing) runs high, even among those who neither drink nor use drugs. “After all,” a manager might argue, “they have nothing to fear if they’re clean.” But perhaps fear has nothing to do with it.
The negative arguments recorded by employees regarding alcohol and drug testing are highly personal in nature, whereas the arguments by owners and management favoring testing are far more impersonal. Employees are quoted as making statements such as:
• They should have no right to use my body to seek evidence against me.
• This is just a way to get rid of the people they don’t want to work here any longer.
Managers and business owners, on the other hand, make statements such as:
• Everyone who works here agrees to workplace alcohol testing before they’re offered a position.
• Those who are tested are picked randomly. Everybody will undergo workplace drug testing eventually.
While employers view drug and alcohol testing as a natural and understandable condition of employment, meant to further the health of the organization, the safety of employees and others, and to comply with any related government regulations, employees often view the process as an unreasonable invasion into the most private aspect of their lives: their own bodies. From there both sides often move further apart.
The Solution: Bringing the Sides Together
To alleviate this problem management should approach the prospect of drug testing empathetically, seeking to help employees understand the value of a corporate culture that has no room for inappropriate alcohol or drug use. They should neither become defensive about the performance of drug and alcohol tests, nor should they resort to the authoritative claim that employment is conditional upon testing. Both management and employees want the company to be healthy. Accidents and problems associated with drug and alcohol use can endanger the company, jobs, and the employees themselves.
Employees can be proud of the fact that the work place has fewer accidents, and their jobs are more secure, because they are fully committed to the company’s drug and alcohol testing policy. Helping employees to “buy-in” to this attitude can begin immediately after they are hired in new employee orientation. In such an orientation fellow employees who are committed to the policy can be invited to share their feelings about how important the drug and alcohol testing policy is.
And finally, employers should seek to make the drug testing process as non-intrusive as possible. Saliva drug testing, for example, is quick and easy, and removes much of the discomfort often associated with such tests. By focusing upon the mutually important motives to maintain a drug and alcohol-free work environment, while being sensitive to employee concerns, management can successfully overcome resistance to workplace drug and alcohol testing.
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