$$$$$ or $? The Cost Saving Potential of Drug Testing

[This is an article by Kim Wilbur, operations manager for a local company.  Kim’s first entry can be read here – “Why Employee Drug Test?  A True Story.”]

A drug free workplace is the safest and most cost-effective.

As mentioned previously, I never thought about drug testing our employees. With such a small staff and no history of issues like the ones with Miss Perfect, it never crossed my mind. But after all of the time spent interviewing and training her, not to mention the financial expense and frustration of dealing with a drug user, I wish we would have spent the few dollars to drug test her before she was hired and before things got out of hand. Would pre-employment drug testing have prevented the frustration and expense? Seemingly so……But you know what they say, hindsight is always 20/20.

If you haven’t had a personal experience similar to mine perhaps reading the below will convince you that drug testing is still a very good idea for your business.

Based on the below findings from Congress, The Drug Free Workplace Act of 1998 was established:

1. 74% of illegal drug users are actually employed.

Again I admit, when I used to think of drug users I pictured people living on the streets, begging for money to get their next fix. This statistic obviously proves otherwise; a majority of drug users hold regular jobs and get regular paychecks. I guess the reality is that drugs aren’t cheap, especially when you’re dependent on them, so a job is necessary to be able to support the habit.

2. Over 50% of the Nation’s workforce is employed by small businesses.

Small businesses, be on the lookout! You can be severely impacted by employing even one drug abusing employee. Unlike larger organizations and corporations, small businesses are not as likely to have drug free policies in place so drug users may specifically seek employment with you. If you haven’t decided already that a drug free workplace policy is a good idea, this should really convince you to put employee drug testing into effect.

3. Illegal drug users and alcohol abusers affect businesses because:

a. they are absent more (66% more)
b. their usage of health benefits is 300% higher
c. there are more workplace accidents – 47% are drug related
d. corrective action in the workplace is 90% higher among drug users
e. they don’t stay – drug users are more likely to quit or get fired from their job.

Ouch, do you really want to hire someone that is not dependable, is a danger to coworkers and his or herself, will cause you more work and headaches and will actually cost you money in the end? I think not.

According to a SAMHSA survey reviewing 2002-2003 employee drug abuse, it costs on average, $2,456 to recruit and fill a standard job position. Depending on your state laws and which types of tests can be administered, drug tests can be purchased from a few dollars for a drug screen up to $100 for a lab test. WOW, which would you prefer to spend, a couple dollars or a couple thousand? And by having a drug free workplace policy in effect, pre employment drug testing will generate even more substantial savings in money, time and productivity further down the line.

One single comment

  1. It is important to set up a drug and alcohol policy in the workplace no matter the number of employees. As evident with your situation, substance abuse can happen at any company. Setting up policies will protect you and your employees by offering ways to help overcome substance abuse.