Supervisor Training Could Prevent Substance Use by Employees

Supervisor Training Could Prevent Substance Use by Employees

Many companies screen for drug use when an employee is hired. However, even random drug testing by employers is not a deterrent to employees in their drug use. In some companies, the likelihood of being tested is not high enough to discourage substance use. In other cases, the employee may believe that the supervisor is lenient.

A new study explored the factors involved in supervisor-employee relations and how drug use is affected by that relationship. Researchers from the University of Buffalo Institute on Addictions found that supervisors just being present and in communication with their employees all day was not enough to curb the use of drugs and alcohol on the job.

Senior research scientist and research associate professor of psychology Michael Frone PhD, explains that employees only change their behaviors when they believe that their supervisor may be able to detect their drug and alcohol use, and they believe their supervisor will enforce the consequences.

The study found that associating with the supervisor, even on a regular basis throughout the day, does not seem to be a deterrent for many employees.

The researchers recruited 2,429 individuals between the ages of 18 and 65, who were all employed civilians in the continental U.S. The researchers administered a telephone survey with each participant that lasted 45 minutes.

The study, which appears in a recent issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, was conducted through a project called “Workplace Substance Use: A National Prevalence Study,” funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The study’s findings show that when employees believe that a supervisor will enforce consequences, they drink less while at work. The change in behavior, however, did not affect off-the-job alcohol consumption.

But when it came to using illicit drugs, supervisors had influence on both off and on-the-job substance use. If an employee believed that their supervisor would take corrective action, it influenced all drug use.

Frone says that the information gained by the study shows that the factors that influence employee choices related to drug and alcohol use are not as simple as previously believed.

The study’s findings provide support for the implementation of training for supervisors in detecting and addressing employee substance use. This type of training could reduce alcohol and drug use on the job, as well as drugs used off-duty.

In addition, the findings suggest that the training of supervisors may benefit all employees of a workplace. Those who do not participate in substance abuse, says Frone, will benefit from an overall improvement in morale and stress reduction in the work environment.

Further research is needed to fully understand the factors involved with employee substance use. Frone’s next research will involve examining the variables that are involved between stress and employee alcohol consumption.

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