Small Business Brief


An Employer’s Complete Guide to Workplace Drug Testing

Should you drug test your employees? Isn’t it an invasion of their privacy? Here’s everything you need to know about workplace drug testing.

Drug use among employees costs companies $81 billion every year. About seven in 10 U.S. employees who use illicit drugs did so while at work. As a manager or business owner, it’s your responsibility to prevent this issue and keep the workplace drug-free.

Employees who use drugs are more likely to cause accidents and make bad decisions that can affect the entire organization. Plus, they’re less productive and engaged.

High absenteeism rates, erratic work patterns, theft, tardiness, and poor overall performance are often due to drug abuse.

Considering these facts, it makes to implement workplace drug testing. But is it legit? Or ethical?

Drug testing at work is a common practice nowadays. Here are a few things managers should know before taking any steps in this direction:

The Dangers of Drug Abuse in the Workplace

Many employees are struggling to perform their daily duties due to the effects of alcohol or drug abuse. Illicit substances like cocaine, LSD, and opioids can impair decision-making skills and job performance.

In 2013, nearly 70 percent of the 22.4 million drug users were employed. This number has increased ever since. Surprisingly, most employers are not aware of drug use in their organization.

This problem isn’t new. However, it’s becoming more and more common because of the widespread availability of drugs. In 2016, cocaine use was 12 percent higher compared to the previous year.

Drug abuse in the workplace can have devastating effects on your company’s performance and revenue. These include but are not limited to:

  • High absenteeism
  • Low employee morale
  • Increased turnover rates
  • Decreased efficiency
  • Employees sleeping on the job
  • Conflicts at the workplace
  • Work-related accidents and injuries
  • Poor work quality

Employees who use drugs are more likely to file worker’s compensation claims, injure themselves or other people, and run into conflicts.

Pros and Cons of Workplace Drug Testing

More and more companies are testing employees for drugs either randomly or prior to hiring them. In both cases, drug testing is perfectly legal. In fact, it’s a requirement in certain industries, such as transportation.

Furthermore, employers may implement workplace drug testing following an accident or whenever they suspect that an employee might be using illicit substances.

Urine, saliva, blood, and hair are the most common sample types. Choosing one over another depends on your company’s budget. Urine and saliva testing are the least expensive options, while hair and blood testing come at a higher cost.

No matter what method you choose, workplace drug testing can serve as a deterrent.

If your employees know they’re going to be tested, they’re less likely to use drugs. This procedure can help increase and maintain safety at work, minimize liabilities, and prevent conflicts that may arise because of drug abuse.

On top of that, it could save someone’s life. If one of your employees is struggling with prescription drug abuse or other addictions, you can help him get treatment before it’s too late.

The downside is that drug testing in the workplace may affect your team’s morale. Some employees may see it as an invasion of their privacy. Others might think that you don’t trust them.

Foster a Safe Work Environment

When you run a business, ensuring a safe work environment should be your main priority. If one or more of your employees are on drugs, they put everyone in danger.

Workplace drug testing can give you peace of mind and increase employee productivity. Even though it has its drawbacks, the benefits are well worth it.

At the end of the day, the choice is up to you. But remember – no one is immune to drug addiction. For more tips on how to make your business thrive, check out our other blog posts!