How To Shift Corporate Culture Around Addiction Awareness

How To Shift Corporate Culture Around Addiction Awareness

Addiction in the workplace is an ongoing concern. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 70% of adults with substance use disorders (SUDs) are in some form of employment.

That said, addiction awareness in the workplace can go a long way toward fostering a supportive workplace culture where staff find it normal to seek help toward recovery. A company with a supportive culture can see more of its staff seek help for addiction issues.

If you feel like your company’s culture could use a shift, you’re in the right place. Keep these tips in mind.

Organize Awareness Campaigns

Addiction is not an easy conversation to tackle in the office, let alone in general. However, the more your staff and colleagues know about it, the better they’ll be equipped to support themselves or struggling colleagues.

That’s why it’s a good idea to host educational workshops or seminars every now and again. Consider getting an expert to tackle different types of addictions, their warning signs, and available resources during these sessions.

These sessions don’t have to be all doom and gloom. You can make them engaging by incorporating real-life stories of recovery and highlighting the incredible progress people can make with the right support system.

Destigmatize Addiction

There’s a lot of misunderstanding and stigma surrounding addiction. So, you need to encourage your team to recognize that it is a legitimate medical condition that deserves the same level of compassion and understanding as any other illness.

Therefore, urge your team to use respectful, non-judgmental language when talking about addiction. Their focus should be on shifting the narrative away from shame and toward recovery.

Sharing inspiring stories of people who have overcome addiction can go a long way in breaking down those barriers and showing that recovery is possible.

Implement Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

A solid EAP in place can help shift the corporate culture around addiction awareness. That’s why you need to make sure your employees have access to confidential support and resources if they’re dealing with addiction.

That could mean offering counseling services or information on local support groups. You can also refer them to places like the Jackson House Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers or any others near you and let them get the right treatment.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Recovery isn’t a simple one-and-done procedure. That’s why you should give your affected staff enough space and time to recover without affecting their output or the company’s bottom line.

Some of the strategies you can come up with include encouraging remote work or compressed workweeks. These options can allow affected members of staff to prioritize their well-being while still contributing to the team and maintaining a sense of purpose and productivity.

Promote Work-Life Balance

Of course, most workplaces either explicitly or implicitly urge the hustle and grind. However, this can have detrimental effects on the balance between work and life, something that people today hold dear.

From a perspective, work-life balance is something that more people prioritize today. A survey published by BBC shows that about 65% of jobseekers in the UK and 63% in the US prefer work-life balance over pay and benefits.

But why is it important? When members of your team are constantly running on fumes, it’s easier for them to take to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Inevitably, some of these roads may take them down to addiction.

That’s why you should encourage your employees to take those hard-earned vacation days. Also, policies should be implemented that allow them to step away from laptops after several hours. No calls or office business outside of work hours unless it’s an urgent matter.

You can also prioritize self-care in the offices by offering access to facilities such as yoga rooms and employee gym membership or encouraging them to take breaks to recharge.

Train Managers

Train and equip managers and supervisors with the right tools to support their teams. A well-equipped manager may find it easier to recognize potential signs of addiction among the rank and file.

When they detect any of these signs, they’ll know how to approach the affected team members and have a conversation with them. Given the sensitivity of the matter, make sure your managers are trained to approach those difficult conversations with empathy and understanding.

The point isn’t to play therapist or lay accusations on the affected employee. It is about lending that compassionate ear and connecting them with the resources they need to get help.

How To Shift Corporate Culture Around Addiction Awareness

Revise Policies And Procedures

Take a close look at your company’s existing policies and procedures related to substance abuse and addiction. Do they prioritize support and rehabilitation, or are they more punitive in nature?

If the policies are on point, encourage your staff to keep them in mind. If they are wide off the mark, consider revising them to strike a balance between accountability and compassion.

An accountable and compassionate policy could include offering medical leave for treatment, return-to-work programs, and clear guidelines for addressing relapses without fear of immediate termination.

Partner With Community Organizations

The effects of addiction in the workplace can spill over to society. So what better way to deal with it than by partnering with community organizations dedicated to fighting the scourge?

Holding hands with local or national addiction support organizations can significantly enhance your company’s resources and corporate culture around addiction. Not only that—such a move also demonstrates a genuine commitment to the cause.

These organizations can provide expert guidance, educational materials, and even on-site counseling services. They can also help you stay up to date on best practices and emerging trends in addiction treatment and recovery.

Foster An Inclusive Environment

The thing about addiction is that it doesn’t choose. It can affect the men loading the trucks at the warehouse or the manager leading a team of 30. It also doesn’t discriminate based on social factors such as race or culture. It can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime.

That’s why it’s a good idea to ensure that your addiction awareness efforts are inclusive and accessible to all employees, from entry-level positions to top executives. This could involve offering resources in multiple languages, accommodating different cultural perspectives, and promoting diversity and inclusion in your messaging and programming.

At the end of the day, the focus is on making sure every employee feels involved in the process and taken care of should they find themselves battling addiction.

Build A Supportive Network

With the stigma that’s often attached to addiction, it’s no surprise that recovery can be a lonely road. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Encourage peer support groups or online communities within the company where employees can share their experiences. 

Through these resources, they can also get to lean on each other and find strength in numbers. Whether addicted or not, knowing someone else’s story and walking a mile in their shoe can help improve their awareness of addiction.

With that comes a more supportive work environment, which may significantly boost morale and performance. Not only that—the sense of belonging and shared understanding that arises from such communities can be a powerful reminder to those addicted that they’re not alone in their struggles.

As the experts say, recovery is a team effort. Your team rallying around their addicted colleagues can, therefore, go a long way toward getting them clean and properly reintegrated into the workforce.

Celebrate Recovery Milestones

Recovery isn’t an easy process. There will be times when progress will seem linear, and then at other times, everyone seems confused by the turn of events. That said, whatever milestone an employee recovering from addiction crosses deserves to be celebrated.

Recognizing an employee’s progress, whether privately or publicly (with their consent, of course), can send a powerful message of support and validation. This can encourage a positive attitude toward addiction in the workplace.

It can also encourage colleagues to rally around their fellow and support them through their journey in whichever way they can. That’s good for the colleague and good for your organization.

Lead By Example

Culture starts from the top and trickles down. So, when you’re open and vulnerable about your own struggles and the importance of self-care, it sets the tone for the entire company. Suddenly, your team may not find it difficult to seek help, whether that’s utilizing the EAP resources or taking time off for treatment.

But that’s not the only way to lead by example. Walking the walk when it comes to your company’s policy relating to drug and substance abuse can empower the rest of your team to do the same without fear or stigma.

In Closing

Addiction in the workplace is not something you can’t wish away. It’s been there since time immemorial and probably still will be. However, bringing to life a culture of awareness and support can go a long way toward addressing the elephant in the room.

So keep the tips in mind in your attempts to shift the corporate culture around addiction awareness. Executing this move correctly can ensure that you don’t have to lose valuable members of staff and productive time to the ravages of addiction.

Published by: Martin De Juan


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