The opioid crisis has taken a real grip on the United States, to the point where thousands upon thousands of employees are dying each year due to overdoses. It’s putting a real strain on the healthcare system and dozens of charities around the country are being set up to try and help.
The government has announced steps to try and ease the problem, and at the core of that is education, prevention and restriction, but that doesn’t cover the fact that more businesses than ever are being affected as opiate addiction and other forms of drug addiction continue to grow. So, just how badly are businesses being affected?
Costing Over $19 Billion Per Year
According to a report by the National Safety Council, the cost of the opioid crisis to employers in the United States was $19 billion in 2018. This includes costs associated with healthcare, lost productivity, absenteeism, and decreased quality of work. It’s estimated that employers lose $2.6 billion each year due to absenteeism related to opioids.
Safety Coming Secondary
Another study by the National Business Group on Health found that opioid addiction has a significant impact on workplace safety. Employees who are addicted to opioids are more likely to be involved in workplace accidents, which can lead to increased workers’ compensation claims and higher insurance premiums for employers.
Well-being of Staff at a Low
What’s more, the opioid crisis is also taking a toll on the mental and emotional well-being of employees. Many businesses are struggling to support employees who are struggling with addiction or have family members who are addicted to opioids. This can lead to increased stress and burnout among employees, which can have a ripple effect on productivity and morale.
No Staff Equals No Business
Ultimately, one of the most significant impacts of the opioid crisis on businesses is increased absenteeism. Employees who are struggling with addiction may need to take time off work to attend treatment programs, deal with withdrawal symptoms, or care for family members who are addicted to opioids. According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than half of employers surveyed reported an increase in absenteeism related to opioids over the past five years.
This absenteeism can be costly for businesses. Not only do employers lose out on productivity when employees are absent, but they may also need to pay for temporary workers or overtime to cover the workload. This can add up quickly and have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.
What Can Businesses Do?
So, what can businesses do to address the opioid crisis? There are a few steps that employers can take to support employees and mitigate the impact of opioids on the workplace. Firstly, businesses can offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide confidential support and resources for employees who are struggling with addiction or have family members who are addicted to opioids. These programs can help employees access treatment and support, which can reduce absenteeism and improve productivity.
Businesses can also provide training for managers and supervisors on how to identify and respond to employees who may be struggling with addiction. This can help create a supportive and non-judgmental work environment that encourages employees to seek help.
Alongside this, businesses can work with healthcare providers and insurance companies to promote safe prescribing practices and reduce the risk of opioid addiction. This can include offering alternative pain management options, such as physical therapy or acupuncture, and providing education and resources to employees about the risks of opioid use.
It’s become a collective responsibility to ensure that the opioid crisis begins to ease, and businesses can play a big part in that not just for the health of their staff, but for the health of their business too.