If your company is evaluating your drug screening policy, you may wonder how thorough your plan should be. Is one pre-employment test enough? Or, should you be running ongoing random screenings?
Ultimately, the correct answer depends on your organization. You’ll need to decide what is responsible and what might be excessive. Here’s a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of continuous testing.
Ongoing Screenings May Keep Everyone Safer
Safety is a key argument for random drug testing. After all, workers under the influence could cause an accident, injure themselves and harm others. Also, habitual users may be more likely to steal and/or exercise poor judgment. With the possibility of screening at any time, companies hope employees will think twice before turning to drugs.
A Comprehensive Drug Policy Can Improve Your Reputation
A continuous screening policy proves an organization takes a drug-free workplace seriously. And, companies that combine drug testing with treatment options demonstrate a genuine concern for their employee’s wellbeing. Smart businesses don’t use screenings to catch people, but rather to help everyone live safer and healthier lives.
Continuous Drug Testing May Save Your Organization Money in the Long Term
Many businesses view ongoing screening as an investment. Routine drug testing can lead to fewer accidents, a decrease in workers’ compensation claims, reduced insurance premiums and fewer lawsuits. A company-wide policy could even improve productivity by proactively addressing the problems associated with employees who show up to work under the influence or high.
Frequent Screenings Could Damage Employee Morale
Although most people understand the importance of drug testing, the process itself is no fun. Veteran employees may begin to question whether the company trusts them. Privacy concerns are another issue especially with the legalization of marijuana in many states. Since standard urine screens go back one to three days, someone could lose their job on Monday morning after legal recreational drug use over the weekend.
The Benefits of Random Screening Are Not Well Documented
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the primary goal of ongoing screening is to discourage workers from using drugs. However, in a recent statement, federal researchers claimed, “To date, there is limited evidence about the effectiveness of this deterrent effect.” (SHRM, 2010) Much of the support for continuous testing is based on employer anecdotes distributed by the drug-testing industry.
Ongoing Drug Testing Can Be Expensive
Running a drug screen isn’t free. So, for an organization with hundreds or thousands of employees, continuous testing could be a significant cost. Plus, businesses must make sure their programs comply with federal and states laws as well as union contracts. This can require a substantial commitment from any company’s HR department.
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