New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has launched a program to encourage business leaders to cultivate recovery-friendly workplaces. This new program aims to spark a change in how company leaders will handle their company culture regarding the management of workplace substance abuse. Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that 424 New Hampshire residents succumbed to opioid overdose in 2017, most of these people were employed full-time.
Importance of Recovery-Friendly Companies
New Hampshire companies are starting to break the stigma associated with addiction through education and offering a “recovery-friendly” work environment. There are nearly 21 million Americans in recovery, and with the country’s unemployment rate at a near-record-low of 3.6 percent, millions of employees are in recovery, it’s a matter of how vocal they are about it to their employers. The opioid crisis in America hits harder in New Hampshire than in any other state, with twice the national rate of overdose deaths. Republican Governor Sununu launched a program to educate company leaders on how to change company culture to be more fitting for addicts in recovery, hoping to bring that overwhelming number down.
The Governor received one million dollars through grants and federal funding to educate and train employers on creating a new workplace policy. New Hampshire is experiencing a decrease of interested applicants for jobs, which is causing sites to be understaffed. Companies are now taking a new approach with recovery-friendly programs and better ways of handling employee relapses. The program is designed to support employees struggling with substance abuse and those that relapse is taken care of as a medical concern instead.
New Program Model
The proposed program is shifting the way that companies view addiction – breaking the stigma. After the employers go through state training, they work on revising workplace policies, creating company-wide education, and introducing new technical training for company employees. The employers will host a company-wide meeting, informing employees that they will change their workplace policies to be more inclusive and sensitive to people in recovery. The shift in company culture must be eased into while educating employees. Companies, though not required to, will offer technical training for those in recovery and have not acquired the new skillset. Governor Sununu expressed that this is a “win-win” initiative “Employers need workers, and those in recovery benefit from being an active participant in the workforce.”
Recovery-Friendly Workplaces: A Compliance Win-Win
After a company goes through the state training program, they will receive a green-and-purple sticker that shows they are a recovery-friendly workplace. Placing this logo on their window proves to those that are in recovery the reassurance that they are more than their addiction, and that the company is willing to work with them. The logo can also help with the recruiting process, even if those in recovery do not disclose that they are in recovery, but they’ll know it is a conscientious place.
Mark Bonta, factory manager at Genfoot America – a “recovery friendly” factory – says that seeing the logo on the door brings more confidence to employees, “confident that they’re okay here.”
At Genfoot America, they started to make little shifts in their company culture – shifting happy hours to sober activities like bowling and other recovery friendly events.
When an employee fails a drug test, they are required to sign off on allowing a counselor or other recovery provider to speak with their boss to ensure that they are going to all their meetings and are okay to work. This new approach can help save careers and potentially lives.