The growing opioid crisis in this country is hitting employers hard, and they are prioritizing education and preventive measures.
About two-thirds of human resources professionals say their companies are affected by the national opioid crisis or expect to be in the near future, according to a survey by The Hartford Financial Services Group.
The survey of 2,000 U.S. workers and 500 human resources executives also found that 75% of workers don’t believe that they have sufficient training to help colleagues with addiction/substance use issues. Only about one-third of workers said they feel their company has resources to help employees with opioid problems. HR professionals also expressed concerns about their ability to help address opioid addicted employees. Only 24% said they feel very/extremely confident that they could spot the signs of opioid addiction, and only 19% said they know how to reduce the risk of addiction.
There are still variations about how companies handle opioid-addicted employees. About a third of HR professionals said a worker is fired when an addiction is uncovered, while 37% said that person would be “closely monitored.” Of those employees who are treated for an addiction-related problem, about 45% return to work afterwards.
Hartford partnered with Shatterproof, a national non-profit organization, to offer an addiction education program to educate HR professionals and others about opioids and to foster prevention, treatment, and recovery. The program includes information about what employees need to know about addiction and how to help a friend, relative, or co-worker with a drug problem.
In the new year, watch for more employers to be proactive on addressing opioid addiction among their employees. In addition to the risk these individuals pose to patients/clients, co-workers, and themselves, a 2016 study by Castlight Health found that opioid addition could be costing U.S. employers about $18 billion annually in lost productivity and medical expenses. The National Safety Council has developed a substance use cost calculator to help organizations determine what this problem might be costing them.
If you think you don’t have to worry about opioid addiction, think again. Economist Alan Krueger published a study showing a correlation between a shrinking workforce and opioid addiction. Addiction makes employment challenging, and joblessness makes recovery difficult if not impossible. By acting now, you can be part of the solution.