Sunday, November 22, 2009

Is the Flu or Are You Being Scammed by the Employee Addict?

So, how would you know if something like the flu is what's really keeping your employee out of work for three or four days if they just got out of the hospital after treatment for alcoholism? Good question! Employees who return to work after receiving alcoholism or drug addiction treatment can certainly get sick later on with the flu or other illnesses anyone else might get. It can be helpful to require that the employee obtain a letter from a physician to explain further absenteeism, but acquiring such a letter is not a difficult task for a determined employee who has recently relapsed. A better alternative is to have your company employee assistance counselor (Hey there fella! Do you have one that works?) receive follow-up information from the treatment provider and then with proper consent forms signed by your employee, act a contact to discuss employee problems you might later encounter. The key of course is the treatment program following up on patient's it treats, and also sharing appropriate information with your company's EAP. Employees do get sick my friend. But those that are following through with their post-treatment, self-care recommendations will be less likely to drink or use again, necessitating their lying about work absences. You have only to consider whether the absenteeism pattern you are observing is reasonable like any other employee. Appropriate feedback from the EAP counselor or human resource manager who has knowledge of the treatment provider's follow-up record for your employee will be the best way to feel good about welcoming your employee back to work after the flu.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Confronting Your Employee--and He's In a Blackout!

Dealing with an employee you have previously reprimanded is difficult. Dealing with blackouts: when your employee doesn't remember being sent home drunk is even more complicated.

Disciplinary action is an unfortunate necessary responsibility of a supervisor. Well documented disciplinary action will focus on work performance and is the best way to make an uncomfortable situation bearable for both you and the employee.

Any employee who doesn’t remember being sent home drunk is likely going to try a variety of tactics to prove their innocence. They may make excuses; even provide possible scenarios that seem plausible to anyone who was not present at the time when they were sent home. Or they may try and relate the incident to another time they do remember, confusing the facts and diverting the situation. Diverting the issue is typical for someone who has blackouts and cannot remember specifics. You should be aware of and prepared for these behavior patterns. Make sure when you send an employee home drunk you have documented the event with a reliable witness and the employee’s signature. Even if the signature is difficult to read due to a loss of motor skills, there is no excuse to invalidate documentation. This will help prevent the feeling of being stranded in a Jerry Springer show entitled Blackouts: When Your Employee Doesn't Remember Being Sent Home Drunk.

In the case of blackouts: when your employee doesn't remember being sent home drunk you may find they will claim they didn’t know, or that “everyone is against them,” they may blame others or try gaining your pity for their personal situation. If they do no remember being sent home drunk they may try playing on your sympathy. Your best defense against this is a calm approach, keeping to the issues of work performance and conduct. A level head on your part will do more to diffuse the issue than anything. Even if the employee begins to get angry or breaks down into tears, you need to keep your focus on the matter of work. Do not try and moralize their situation or diagnose their problem. If the employee was sent home drunk, than the action taken was deemed appropriate at the time and your only course is to stand behind that decision.

The key to dealing with blackouts: when your employee doesn't remember being sent home drunk is to keep level headed and stick to the documentation.

A Web course for training supervisors in DOT Alcohol and Drug Training can be previewed free and without obligation by completing the form at DOT TRAINING OF SUPERVISORS. The web course is offered by and published by Daniel Feerst, LISW-CP. Dan Feerst, MSW, LISW. He began his employee assistance career in 1978 as a Social Science Officer for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Occupational Alcoholism Program in Langley, VA. Since then, he has served as a staff member or director for some of America's most well-known Employee Assistance and Counseling Programs, including the Kennecott Copper INSIGHT Employee Assistance Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture 22 Agency EAP Consortium, and Arlington County Government and Public Schools EAP in Arlington, VA. He has consulted with hundreds of small businesses on helping employees, intervening with substance addicted workers, and how to develop effective alcohol and drug-policies.

Obtain and view a DOT Alcohol and Drug Education web course with the features discussed above at The company permits a full full review of the course on a CD that plays on your computer just like it would on you your web site.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Overcoming Supervisor Fear in Reasonable Suspicion Confrontations

The specter of supervisor fear in reasonable suspicion confrontations can create a disproportionate sense of dread when dealing with this issue. No-one ever wants to be the ‘heavy’ or to have to be the one to tell an employee they are no longer performing effectively in their job. When there are the complications of drug or alcohol abuse coloring the situation there is the added worry of the blame/denial cycle, or of heated exchange and recriminations turning to ugly confrontation. The best way to guard against ugliness is with education. If you are well educated on how to approach the situation and communicate well to the employee then things will go much smoother than you expect.

A supervisor can feel fear for many reasons – the most common are the fear of the unknown (not knowing how the employee will react) and the fear of being inadequate – of not knowing what to say. A good training program can help overcome these fears by giving you a complete understanding of the process from both the supervisor’s role and responsibilities, and through representational examples of possible employee reactions. When you have been fully trained then it is possible to control, and even eliminate supervisor fear in reasonable suspicion confrontations.

Another key to conquering supervisor fear in reasonable suspicion confrontations is to remember that your employee’s problems are not going to go away by themselves. In fact, it is quite the opposite, in the vast majority of cases the problem will only get worse until the employee spirals so deep in the grip of drugs or alcohol that they lose everything. In many ways, by calling their attention to the problem now you are doing them a favor. Of course, the employee will not see it that way for a long time. This is where proper training can help you effectively deal with the situation and avoid personalizing it, or taking anything cruel that is said to heart.

It is natural to feel some trepidation when dealing with a difficult employee or situation, but when you are properly prepared and trained, the nervousness can be kept to a minimum and will not distract you from the proper steps that you need to take. Because there is so much riding on the proper treatment of the employee it is natural to feel some supervisor fear in reasonable suspicion confrontations, but there is no need for that fear to cripple you.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Online or Web Based Reasonable Suspicion Training for Drug Free Workplace DOT Supervisor Training

It's difficult to find an adequate web-based, or online Reasonable Suspicion Training Course to reach all of those branch offices you can't easily travel to.

But there are a couple solutions.

First, a few precautions: 1) Get one without the usual infinite online per-user fees. That just eliminated 95% of the choices. Instead, get a program that you own, you buy, you keep, you upload easily to your company web site, and completely control for emailing the start link to supervisors and managers needing DOT Training for a Drug Free Workplace.

Next, ensure that the author is from "the trenches". Woops. There goes another 98%. Don't panic. Solutions are below. You need a little interesting information, so understand the following:

Myths and misconceptions are so strongly held by supervisors and managers that any reasonable suspicion training program that does not spend time addressing and confronting them, essentially becomes nothing more than entertaiment. Seriously, you don't want that. An author of such a program from the trenches who has it all in the way of "excuses and explanations" from suspected employees using on the job, will give your training some life. Your training must help supervisors not fall for the creative excuses and explanations employees deliver on the spot.

And, do not simply do the minimum required training with supervisors mandated by the DOT for supervisor alcohol and drug education. Go a little further and kill these myths and misconceptions in your DOT Training or Alcohol in the Workplace Training program. Your drug free workplace efforts will pay off big time.

Drug free workplaces are made possible not by education alone, but energy of awareness given to supervisors in the training directly caused by successfully dispelling myths. If you do this, supervisor become strong believers and change agents, cover up less, and promote a drug-free workplace.

If you do not have an effective program, they are only hestitant trainees who slept through DOT training.

Alcohol workplace issues especially face the above issues. Alcohol in the Workplace related problems are associated with the most most myths of all. Here's why:

Seventy percent of the adult population drinks alcohol. This is a conservative estimate. Alcoholism affects 10% of them. The most important thing for an alcoholic employee to believe that the cessation of alcohol use is not necessary in order to resolve any personal problems in his or her life that directly or indirectly result from alcohol use. As a result, enormous inertia exists in society in the form of myths, misconceptions, false beliefs about alcoholism and addiction.

The most precious of these myths is the psychological origin of addiction myth. Why is this so value in its absolute falsehood? There are TWO reasons: 25-50% of psychologically treated persons have alcohol and drug problems and don't need the level of psychological care they receive at great expense.

The economic cost of giving these patients up to simple education, disease management, motivational counseling, AA, and self-disease management for abstinence is enormous. It would cause the collapse of the mental health field. And 2) if a person with alcoholism can be effectively treated for their psychological problems (in theory) WOW!, then drinking normally again becomes a possiblity.

Now imagine a reasonable suspicion training program that discusses these issues and a whole lot more? Not in the depth I just discussed, but enough to ZAP the myth. One out of four people has an alcoholic in their family, and if you are one of them - you're resisting what you just read. (Am I right?)

Try these super online training programs no one will sleep through:

WORKEXCEL.COM Reasonable Suspicion Training

BEHAVIORALRISK.COM Reasonable Suspicion Training Reasonable Suspicion Training