Several years ago a supervisor met with me to ask about one of his recovering alcoholic employeeswho he saw come out of a liquor store one weekend. The employee's work was satisfactory without any issues.
I guess it is a small town.
The $64K question was, should the supervisor intervene, confront the work on Monday, report it to HR, or blow it off. What would you do?
This employee was in fact referred to treatment several years earlier and a last chance agreement to keep good attendance and maintain productivity was still in effect. What should the supervisor do?
The answer is pretty cut and dry. Do nothing. Less you disagree, follow this path of logic and remember something important: Business organizations are all about productivity and contracts to pay for productivity. They are not business to be ambulance chasers, do-gooders, or involve themselves in the personal lives of employees. Remember as well that witnessing this incident was coincidental. It could have happened five minutes before or five minutes after the time that it did.
This employee may still not be drinking, but even it the supervisor saw the employee turn the bottle up on the way out the door, work performance at this point is still characterized as satisfactory.
Here is what I told the supervisor. Tell me in the comments if you agree. Like any employee, you have the freedom to contact the EAP for any reason you feel appropriate. I encouraged the supervisor to take this step. That step is a confidential one for the supervisor, and actually has some real risk management dimensions to it.
Although many concerned persons would react with alarm to what you have seen, realize that your focus should remain on the employee’s performance and that you don’t have enough information to make an accurate judgment about what you have seen. Your call to the EAP will be treated confidentially. Don’t expect the EAP to provide details of your employee’s treatment or say what will happen with the information you share. But yu can be the EAP will do a little bit of follow up to see how things are going if there is still any level of involvement still in place. There is no guarantee, but it is likely. So far, so good.
Focusing on performance is the surest way to help the employee to not only be a good performer, but to also follow through with whatever his or her program of recovery entails.
Remember, you can’t control the employee’s behavior or outcomes in his or her personal life. Realize, too, that events such as this one frequently have simple explanations. For example, your employee in recovery may have had second thoughts and simply left the store, paid an old debt, or said good-bye to the clerk he never plans to see again!
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Do you have a training program about Alcohol Abuse? It is a good idea to educate your employees about substance abuse because even if they do not have a problem themselves, a family member may indeed be severely in trouble, and such education always travels home. Find drug and alcohol problems here.
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