Dealing with employees who have some kind of addiction, be it of substance, drug, alcohol or cigarettes is a difficult job for management and HR. It is a tricky and delicate issue, as most addicts deny their addiction, and when they are forced to admit it; will ask HR to mind their business.
But can HR or management mind their business and go on as if it is business as usual? Any addicted employee is a pain for the organization, no matter how talented she is at the workplace. But how much of it should be the organization’s concern?This is where the difficulty lies: should HR let a person carry on with his addiction after office hours, or should it intervene?
Remember the age old adage
The approach to take shouldn’t be so difficult to fathom, if HR takes the commonsense path: true, it has no business to interfere with an employee’s personal habits. But it has every right, and in fact, is obliged to take remedial measures when the addiction affects the employee’s performance. The legal dictum, “your right ends where my nose begins” should be the defining yardstick. Yes, addictions are personal issues, but they cease to be personal when they come in the way of work.
Lay out clear policy
At the time of joining, the employee has to be made known about the company policy on dealing with addictions. A surprise medicalcheckshould not provide grounds for the person to go to court.
Extend a helping hand
HR has to do its bit to help the addicted person by talking to him about it and making him understand how it is vitiating the atmosphere and how the employee himself is the worst victim of the habit. It should try to see if a psychologist’s counseling can be arranged outside office.
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