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Posted on September 9th, 2012, by

Alcohol and drug abuse is a serious problem that affects the workplace consistently.  However, many businesses pay little attention to this problem, which deteriorate the organizational performance substantially. Moreover, it is only a few businesses that have an effective strategy of the solution of the problem of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. In terms of this assignment, I will develop recommendations to a fictional production manager and develop a long-term strategy and policy concerning the alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. In such a way, the paper will consist of two major parts. In the first part, I will perform a role of a partner of human resource manager of a large pharmaceutical company. I will work specifically on the problem of the alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace.

Namely, I will develop a strategy for the company to deal with the alcohol and drug abuse at the workplace, since one of the employees of the company has been found drunk in the locker room. Hence, the company needs to develop a strategy which can prevent such cases of alcohol and drug abuse. Thus, the first part will focused on the solution of the specific problem concerning the case of the employee using alcohol in the workplace. The second part of the paper will handle the problem of alcohol and drug abuse in a long-term perspective. I will conduct a research of the problem of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace and develop policies which can prevent the appearance of such a problem in the workplace. At the same time, I will attempt to critically evaluate the application of preventive strategies, on comparing preventive strategies of two companies. In such a way, on the ground of empiric evidence it will be possible to make a definite conclusion concerning the effectiveness of the suggested strategy.

Task 1: Advice on alcohol misuse at Pharmaceuticals Company

On analyzing the current situation in the company, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the company does not have the alcohol and drug strategy which creates favourable conditions for alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. In such a situation, I would recommend applying a preventive strategy which could minimize the risk of emergence of legal issues that could influence consistently the organizational performance of the company and its public image. In actuality, the lack of alcohol and drug policy increases the risk of lawsuits from the part of the employee, who has been found drunk in the workplace, because the employee can claim that there is no alcohol and drug policy in the workplace. Therefore, his actions are not regulated by internal norms and rule of the organization.

Consequently, he can claim that his behaviour did not contradict to the policy of the company. In such a context, the need to develop an alcohol and drug policy is obvious. At the same time, to avoid problems with the employee, the manager should learn the history of the employee. To put it more precisely, the manager should know how long the employee has been working for the company, what is his experience, professional skills and qualification, how effective and productive is his work, etc.  In addition, it is important to collect information concerning the employee from his colleagues and supervisor. This information allows the manager to define characteristics of the employee, his inclinations and habits. In such a way, the manager will be able to define whether the employee is inclined to the use of alcohol in the workplace or probably the recent case has been an exception or caused by some important factors, such as problems in the personal life of the employee. In fact, the better the manager knows the employee the more adequate decision she can take because, if the employee is not used to using alcohol, he is likely not to use alcohol in the workplace anymore, while, in contrast, if he uses alcohol regularly, this employee should be fired or, at least, get serous punishment for his behaviour because it is unacceptable to use alcohol or drugs in the workplace.

In this respect, it is important to assess the employee’s performance as a whole in order to identify what a kind of employee he is. The objective assessment is possible on the condition that all the information gathered by the manager is analyzed in details. In such a way, it is possible to develop an effective policy in relation to the employee because his behaviour cannot remain without effects for him. In other words, the manger should punish the employee for the alcohol use in the workplace. In fact, this is very important because the policy of the manager in relation to the employee will demonstrate other employees the position of the company in regard to the alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. Therefore, the punishment of the employee will be a good lesson for the entire company. On the other hand, I would recommend the manager selecting the punishment which is just and which the personnel as well as the employee will accept as fair and just.

The latter is necessary because, if the employee or his colleagues do not understand why the employee is punished or if they disagree with the punishment selected by the manager, they will oppose to the manager, since employees will believe the manager is unjust and unable to manage employees effectively.

As for the measures, the manager should undertake in relation to the employee, it should be said that, first of all, the manger should give the employer a written warning. In such a way, it will be a formal warning to the employee which demonstrates the importance of his misbehaviour in the workplace. The formal written warning will clearly state the official position of the company in regard to the alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. In the formal warning it is necessary to clearly state the position of the company and define what exactly was unacceptable for the company in the employee’s behaviour. At the same time, it is important to explain to the employee that his behaviour was dangerous not only for himself but also for other employees as well as customers of the company. The employee could not use alcohol in the workplace since he worked in the pharmaceuticals company, where the professional negligence puts under a threat the health of customers of the company and undermines its reputation.

However, the formal warning is not enough to correct the behaviour of the employee. The manager should have an interview of the employee. In the course of conversation, the manager should explain the employee the attitude of the company to the use of alcohol in the workplace and warn him one more time. At the same time, the manager should attempt to understand motives of the employee’s behaviour.

In addition, the manger should clearly demonstrate the employee that the use of alcohol influenced dramatically his work and productivity.

In this respect, it is important to refer to the responsibility of the employee for his work and the impact of his work on the overall performance of the company as well as on customers. In such a way, the employee will feel his responsibility in face of customers and his colleagues which work with him day after day. Consequently, if the manager explains the employee that his actions were irresponsible and evoked the repulsion of other employees, the employee will be more careful in his behaviour in the future and he will avoid using alcohol at work.

At the same time, the manager cannot be too strict in relation to the employee. Instead, she should attempt to understand the employee, his reasons for using alcohol in the workplace and his problems, which actually provoked the alcohol use. The manager should show the employee that she is eager to help the employee to cope with his problems and the company will support her in this intention, but the employee should be more responsible in the future. Otherwise, the support of the employee will not last forever and some day he will lose the job, if he fails to stop drinking alcohol in the workplace. In such a way, the manager should offer the employee a kind of ethical contract, according to which the employee can count for the support of the manager and the company, while, in response, he should change his behaviour, become more responsible and refuse from using alcohol in the workplace.

Furthermore, in order to prove the employee that the manager is ready to help him, she should suspend the employee. In such a way, the employee will not work for a few days, during which he will have a time to think over his behaviour and his problems. In addition, during this time, the employee may solve his problems and return to the work in a normal psychological state.

Moreover, if necessary, the manager can dock the employee’s pay in order to show that the use of alcohol in the workplace will lead to financial losses from the part of employee. At the same time, such a decision will be just since it will compensate partially losses of the company in the result of the employee’s using alcohol in the workplace that led to his inability to work as well as it raised serious problems within the company because such misbehaviour could have provoked the use of alcohol en mass within the company. The latter will deteriorate the organizational performance even more, while customers will not view the company as a reliable company anymore.

In addition, the manager should establish a system of control over the employee and appoint a counsellor who would control the employee and report on the weekly basis directly to the manager. In such a way, the employee will feel the control from the part of the company and, hence, he will be more responsible in his behaviour. Therefore, the risk of using alcohol by the employee decreases substantially.

Finally, the manager should use the punishment of the employee as an example for others employees, who should clearly understand that the company will not tolerate the use of alcohol or drugs in the workplace. In such a way, the short-term program of the punishment of the employee can lay the foundation to a long-run strategy and policy of prevention of the alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace.

Task 2: Longer term strategy and policy issues in the workplace

Today, the problem of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace is one of the most serious challenges modern businesses are currently facing. In fact, the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace constantly increases and the major cause of this negative trend is the lack of attention from the part of the administration of businesses. Managers fail to develop effective and understandable alcohol and drug policies and long-term strategies, which can prevent employees from using alcohol and drugs during working hours. In addition, the development of a long-term strategy and policies will improve the atmosphere within the company since alcohol and drug use can provoke conflicts within the company, which threaten to the normal functioning of the organization. Also, it is important to remember about the health of employees, who use alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and drugs have a negative impact on the health of employees and the company should implement the strategy and policies which could prevent employees from using alcohol and drugs. In such a way, the long-term strategy of the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse can become an integral part of the social responsibility policies of the company.

In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that healthcare professionals are also extremely concerned with the growing problem of alcohol and drug use in the workplace. Such respectable organizations as the World Health Organization (WHO) and numerous state agencies warn employees and employers that the use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace undermines the physical health of employees and leads to their disintegration from the workplace environment because they are excluded from the staff, where alcohol and drug use are banned. To put it more precisely, the WHO’s charter states:

“All people have the right to a family, community and working life protected from accidents, violence and other negative consequences of alcohol consumption.”

 

“Promote public, private and working environments protected from accidents and violence and other negative consequences of alcohol consumption.” (Source: IAS factsheet www.ias.org.uk).

 

Consequently, the long-term strategy of alcohol and drug use can protect the company from numerous internal problems and conflicts and improve its public image. In addition, it will contribute to the development of employees’ loyalty because employees will feel the support of the company and its attention to the health and well-being of employees.

On developing a long-term strategy, it is important to understand the ultimate goals of the strategy, which are the prevention of alcohol and drug use and the formation of a healthy organizational culture. In terms of this strategy, it is possible to start with the provision of alcohol Health Promotion Specialists. These specialists should work with employees, especially those who have problems with the use of alcohol and drugs. These specialists should explain employees the danger of using alcohol and its negative impact on the human body. In addition, they should help employees to overcome their addiction, if they have one, and support them to minimize the risk of employees’ slipping to uncontrollable alcohol and drug use, especially in the workplace. In this respect, it is important to emphasize the significance of psychological assistance to people who have problems with alcohol and drug use. Often people start using alcohol and drugs because of psychological problems and the psychological assistance may be very helpful in this regard.

In addition, the company should introduce health screening tests, which can define the state of health of employees and their addiction to drugs or alcohol. Being aware of the risk of revelation, employees will not use alcohol and drugs, when they are in the workplace. Moreover, such tests will form a healthy organizational culture because employees will be always concerned with their health and they will avoid unnecessary risks taking drugs or using alcohol. The systematic testing will also ensure that the company takes care of the health of its employees since testing can reveal serious health problems of employees at the early stages of their development. Finally, the long-term strategy should include the employment of professional trainers who are able to provide employees with professional assistance in tackling the problem of alcohol and drug abuse.

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