How HR Can Help With The Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis has without a doubt manifested inside almost all companies in today’s workforce. Ever increasing numbers of HR managers and C-Suite executives have had to come face to face as to what this crisis means for their own company policies and precious human capital.

An article appearing on the HR Morning website asks whether HR should take the approach of compassion, tough love, or some combination in order to deal with workers who are facing the problem of addiction? What is clear is that in the face of a 300% rise in the number of opioid prescriptions doled out by doctors since 1999 and an equal percentage rise in the number of deaths from opioid use, something needs to be done in every area of society, including the workplace. It is also estimated that approximately 75% of those currently addicted to opioids are currently working. Companies specifically have had to face up to a 20% -25% increase in having to fill positions due to workers being lost to opioid addiction in a number of ways.

How to combat the problem

The article’s author suggests that by taking a look at the number of days of absences by a worker over a three year period if possible is a good starting point. The average number of days that U.S. workers take off of work is around 10 days. Those with issues surrounding addiction take on average 29 days. By examining the pattern and frequency of these days it is possible to identify possible areas of concern. It is not always accurate, but it is a possible starting point.

By having frank and direct conversations with all parties involved, it may be possible to help workers deal with the problem. Employee Assistance Programs or EAP’s are one way to help workers and their families address the problem. No approach is going to be perfect for every person or every situation. However, the problem of addiction can be more successfully addressed by not only focusing on the company’s goals and business needs as but also on the needs of those workers who are struggling with addition and with those of their co-workers.