Tagged workplace

Opioids Are Ravaging the Workplace!

Opioids such as Fentanyl, Percocet and Hydrocodone, are prescription pain relievers presently prescribed at an alarming rate.  These drugs aren’t injected through a dirty syringe or snorted from a glass coffee table next to an overflowing ashtray, these are pills popped out of a common orange bottle filled at your local pharmacy and prescribed by your friendly neighborhood doctor.  As innocent as they appear, opioids, according to the CDC, killed 33,000 Americans in 2015.  Those dying are not careless, sallow eyed teens.  Many are everyday working class joes who became addicted to opioids while trying to deal with the pain of an injury.  Quite a few of your co-workers are likely addicted and you may not even know it.

Here are a few startling statistics that capture the seriousness of this epidemic:

·         Thirty-five percent of Americans were prescribed opioid painkillers in 2015 – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

·         23% of the U.S. workforce have used prescription drugs non-medically – National Safety Council

·         According to the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, roughly 10 to 12 percent of workers are under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while at work.

·         A 2017 survey of more than 500 HR professionals by the Center For Disease Control revealed that 39% reported that employees missed work due to opioid use, 15% that opioid use caused or nearly caused a workplace injury and 10% have had workers overdose from opioids on or off the job.

·         Injured workers who are prescribed even one opioid have average total claim costs four times greater than similar claims from workers who were not prescribed opioids – National Safety Council

·         A 2016 CDC study estimates that nonfatal overdoses cost $20 billion in lost productivity.

·         Fifty-seven percent of companies drug test all their employees, but 41% of those tests don’t screen for opioid pain relievers – National Safety Council

·         According to a NSC employer survey, only 13% of respondents are confident their workers could identify opioid abuse among their colleagues.

Managers must be cognizant of potential abuse in their workplace.  Here are a few signs to look for when detecting opioid abuse:

·         Mood swings

·         Changes in energy level – They nod off on the job

·         Signs of withdrawal – Flu, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, shaking, aches, runny nose

·         Pill bottles in trash can

·         Financial problems – Borrowing money

What steps can you as an employer take to create a drug free workplace?

·         Enact a clear drug policy.

·         Train employees on the dangers of illegal and prescription drugs and how to seek help.

·         Train supervisors on how to spot potential drug abuse and what steps they should follow.

·         Create an employee assistance program which enables employees to access services for personal concerns privately.

·         Expand your drug testing beyond the commonly used five-panel test to one that detects commonly used opioids such as oxycodone.

To get employees the help they really need, HR professionals must take care to remove the stigma of addiction and not shame their employees.  This is perhaps the first step to providing real help.

Workplace Incivility Is At An All Time High

According to Christine Porath, Associate Professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, 25% of employees surveyed in 1998 reported being treated rudely at work at least once a week.  That number rose to 55% in 2011 and increased further to 62% in 2016.  A second poll by Weber Shandwick, Powell Tate, and KRC Research showed that 70% of Americans think that political incivility has reached “crisis” levels. 

Catherine Mattice, president of Civility Partners LLC, describes incivility as, “…any sort of rudeness, any sort of micro-aggression, anything you do that causes the other person to feel uncomfortable or unhappy.”

At the watercooler the talk is no longer about Game of Thrones’ episodes but rather discussions about the President’s latest policy decisions, immigration and a border wall.  All of these topics have a chance of alienating/infuriating particular races, religions and nationalities.  Not all incivility however originates with political disagreements.  A survey Porath took two years ago showed that over half of workers behaved uncivilly because of work overload and, oddly, forty percent claimed they had no time to be nice, while a quarter behaved rudely because their bosses also behaved as such.  Other factors contributing to the rise of rudeness are cultural clashes and an increase in narcissism among younger adults.

What is the price of workplace unrest?  According to a study by Porath and Amir Erez, professor of management at the University of Florida, an individual’s cognitive skills dropped thirty percent after rude treatment.  Harmful treatment may cause physical or mental health problems as well.  The American Psychological Association estimates that workplace stress costs companies billions every year in employee turnover, absenteeism and lower productivity.  A poll of 800 managers and employees conducted by Porath revealed that those treated disrespectfully at work intentionally decreased the quality of their work and the amount of time invested in it.  In addition, workplace harassment may lead to expensive lawsuits. 

Clearly incivility is a destructive force but how important is showing respect? According to Porath, respect shown by a leader is the most important key to producing commitment and engagement from employees.  It outweighs showing recognition and appreciation, feedback and even opportunities for growth.

So listen, forget about President Trump for a moment!  Game of Thrones will return in July.  Once again we can talk about the war in Westeros rather than the war in the workplace.

International Women’s Day: How Far Do Women Have to Go In the Workplace?

The world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th.  In addition to celebrating all the various achievements of women, this day serves to raise awareness regarding the lack of gender equality.  The day is intended to celebrate the need for equality and yet ironically the day itself perhaps does not receive the equal treatment it deserves.  I must admit I had never heard of Women’s Day until after the day had passed.  The first Women’s Day occurred in 1911 in Austria and since then it has popped up here and there around the world as spikes of renewed interest in advancing gender parity took the form of rallies and women’s marches. 

How far have women come in recent years to achieving workplace equality, particularly in the US? Is a push still warranted?  Grant Thornton, a global tax, auditing and advisory firm has been tracking the progress women have made into senior leadership roles since 2004.   Globally, in 2004, women held 19% of the senior executive leadership roles while in the US, for that same year, women represented 20% of those roles.  In 2017 women’s global representation has gained ground and stands at 25% while the pace in the US has slowed a bit and now stands slightly below the global average at 23%.  Despite the increase, gains have been very modest in the last thirteen years. Perhaps more startling is that in 2012, 30% of companies in the U.S. had no female senior leaders while in 2017 that number has not decreased but increased slightly to thirty-one percent.  Advances are slow or even non-existent in areas.  Furthermore, women have not broken through in many other areas of business and government.

Following are 15 jobs women have yet to hold in the U.S.:

·         President of the US

·         Vice President of the US

·         Head coach of a major big 4 sports team

·         Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

·         FBI or CIA director

·         Senate Majority Leader

·         Member of the Joint Chiefs

·         Secretary of Defense, Treasury and Veterans affairs

·         Governor in 23 US states

·         CEO of a top 5 Fortune 500 company

·         Secretary General of the UN

Presently women on average earn only 80 cents for every dollar that men earn, however women do out-earn men in some professions.  The top five are:

·         Physician advisor

·         Purchasing specialist

·         Research assistant

·         Merchandiser

·         Social worker

These are however not the occupations in which women earn the most.  The top 5 and their median pay are as follows:

·         Corporate counsel – $115,000

·         Pharmacist – $119,000

·         VP of Marketing – $123,000

·         General pediatrician – $152,000

·         General practice physician – $173,000

Women are obviously successful and though one hasn’t piloted a top five Fortune 500 Company, Mary Barra currently helms #8 GM.  Yet the gains women have made are barely measurable from year to year.  A woman’s desire to manage both work and family is a frequently offered explanation.   Catherine Hill, The American Association of University Women remarks, “Yes, the choices we make are a big part of it, but it’s also the choices people assume we’re going to make.”  Meaning that yes, many women’s careers suffer when they take time off to care for children or family members but those who have no such aspirations are still penalized.

Mark your calendars for next March.  Women’s day will be coming back around and we all have the opportunity to celebrate women’s gains or lack thereof with a blog post or at the very least, a shout out on Twitter.