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Managers & Supervisor Role

Supplier: LaneWorkSafe

Know your organisation policy Review your organisations written drug-safe workplace policy. If you don't have a copy, ask your employers for one. Be familiar with what the policy permits and prohibits' and the penalties for violating the policy.

Price Guide: POA

Managers & Supervisor Role

A.  Responsibilities

Know your organisation policy

Be prepared to explain the policy to employees
As a manager or supervisor you may be asked to explain the drug-safe workplace policy to other employees. Be prepared to answer questions. Most of your employees will welcome a drug-safe program, and they will have questions in the beginning.

Below are some of the typical questions you may be asked:

  • What drugs are not allowed?
  • Is alcohol allowed?
  • What action or behaviour is not allowed (selling or using)?
  • What happens if someone infringes upon the company policy?
  • Are we going to be drug tested?
  • How accurate are the drug tests?
  • What happens if I refuse to take a drug test?
  • What happens if someone provides a non-negative result?
  • Is counselling or treatment available?
  • Is my union involved?
  • Is the OHS committee involved?
  • Do managers get tested too?

It is always best to be ready with the answers. Your organisation's LaneWorkSafe policy and staff education programs will cover all these questions and many more.

Know your role
As a manager or supervisor you are in a unique position to play a major part in a successful drug-safe workplace program. You will need to know how to identify and address employee job performance problems. Always keep in mind that while some problems may be related to alcohol and other drugs, others are not.

Your role is to observe and help improve employee job performance, to document work problems and successes, and to effectively implement your organisations LaneWorkSafe policies and programs.

You are not expected to diagnose alcohol or other drug abuse or to provide treatment or counselling services to employees with job performance problems.

Rather, your role is to conduct evaluations of job performance problems.

Your company will have a comprehensive employee assistance program (EAP) either established by the company or by LaneWorkSafe. Talk to your employer or Human Resource Manager to make sure you understand what is expected of you regarding the organisation's EAP.

B.  How can a manager or supervisor be part of a successful drug-safe workplace program?
The following steps can help you identify and handle employee performance problems:

Be attentive
The sooner a problem is identified, the sooner it can be corrected, especially when dealing with alcohol and other drugs abuse. It is important to remain alert to any and all job performance problems such as:

  • Rising accident rates
  • Increased absenteeism or tardiness
  • Decreased productivity
  • Deteriorating co-worker relationships

Although these problems can arise for many reasons, including a variety of personal problems, they may also be signs of alcohol or other drug abuse. Don't make assumptions about the reason for a problem, your job is to be aware of problems on the job and to make sure that tasks are completed, deadlines are met, and things are running as smoothly as possible. Staying aware of what is happening in your work environment is the first step to doing an excellent job.

Suppose you see changes in an employee's work patterns or performance….watch more closely. For example, if you know an employee is making a habit of arriving late, calling in sick a lot, or having mood swings. Consider whether there has also been a drop in productivity or an increase in accidents? Remember, it is not your job to figure out the cause of the problem. Your job is to observe employee behaviour and determine the effects of those behaviours on job performance.

Changes in behaviour may be related to alcohol or other drugs abuse; they also may be the result of something else, such as a medical problem like diabetes or high blood pressure. Slurred speech or dizzy spells can be a sign of someone who is high, in need of insulin, or has had a stroke. It is important to call for help if you believe a situation may result in harm to yourself or others. Keep emergency numbers on hand, such as building security, ambulance and EAP provider(s).

Job performance problems and other work related conduct needs to be documented. This means a written record should be kept that explains what you see. It should include the names of persons involved, the time, the date, what occurred, names of witnesses, and what actions were taken. Documentation should focus on job performance and observations and should not include your opinions.

Once you have documented the job performance problem, you should arrange to meet with Human Resources and the employee to discuss what you have seen. Make an appointment at a time and place when you think you will be relaxed and able to discuss the problem without distractions. When job performance problems occur, it is especially important to treat the employee with respect. Your job is to address the performance problem and encourage improvement, not to judge the employee. Be relaxed and maintain a non-judgemental attitude. This will help keep the lines of communication open, solve the problem, and maintain good management-employee relations.

Be Consistent
Regardless of your personal relationship with an employee, it is important to treat each person the same when addressing job performance and/or conduct problems. This is not always easy to do. By following your organisation's procedures, you avoid playing favourites with the people you supervise.