Daniel Gerrard also offers a corporate intervention service. Often employers can feel helpless and frustrated as they watch a once valuable and productive employee deteriorate through Alcoholism or addiction.
An employee suffering from addiction can become a liability, costing the company thousands in days off sick and for those that continue to attend work, their productivity is reduced as is the quality of their work. They can also become a danger to themselves and to others around them. Getting an employee to admit that they are in the grips of addiction is not easy; naturally they will fear the consequences if they do. It is important to remember that addiction and alcoholism is an illness and to offer support as you would with any other illness. Individuals suffering from addiction are genuinely ill and suffering from a condition that is beyond their mental control. Addiction is not a lifestyle choice, individuals suffering do not choose to become addicted, but due to the stigma that is regrettably still attached many individuals suffering fear the consequences of admitting their condition.
There are many scenarios that can arise from having an employee who is suffering an addiction; perhaps they are taking numerous days off work or are on long term sick leave. Perhaps the employee is continuing to work and produce a level of work that although not of their usual standard is still acceptable. Perhaps as an employer you have been approached by the individual’s colleagues who have expressed concern that they are under the influence whilst at work. Whatever the scenario, providing it can be evidenced that the individual is suffering from an addiction there is an excellent chance of an intervention being successful in getting the employee to admit the addiction and accept treatment and help
Employers have a duty of care to their employees and many company’s today want to help individuals who are suffering from an addiction recover and get back on track. An intervention and rehab treatment may seem like a costly approach to resolving an on-going situation, but in the long term does it not make more sense in light of the costs involved in an having an employee that is continually off sick?
*Bart* is 42 and from Poland and has been a valued employee at *Comex Industrial Solutions* for the past 6 years. Working as an industrial engineer his work was always impeccable and his company held his skills and ability in high regard. 18 months ago Bart had an operation but returned to his post after 4 weeks of recuperation. His employers were pleased to have him back as his services had been sorely missed. However something noticeable had changed in Bart, he had begun to make a series of minor errors in his work. This was not representative of his usual standards and his employers called him to the office for an informal chat to try and establish what was wrong. Bart admitted that since his operation he has been on high doses of opiate pain killers but was now weaning off of them. He advised that this was being carefully monitored by his Doctor and that his small concentration lapses were a result of the detox. Bart assured his employers that he was fit to work and otherwise felt okay. As the errors had been minor and easily rectified Bart’s employers decided to take no action but would monitor him from afar throughout his detox. They offered to support Bart in any way that they could, but again Bart reassured them that he was okay and dismissed their offer of support as not being necessary. Over the following weeks Bart continues to work hard but the minor errors continued. Bart’s line Manger also approached HR voicing his concerns that at times Bart did not seem with it. Bart was a well-liked and popular individual but it had also been noted that he was engaging with his colleagues less and less. He also looked physically tired and at times his speech was slurred. His employers became concerned for his safety at work and once again called him into the office for a discussion. This time Bart denied that there was anything wrong, he advised that he had completed his detox and was just tired as a result of working hard and some personal stresses at home. Again his employers asked if there was anything they could do to help, but Bart assured them that he was okay and coping just fine. Bart’s employers felt that there was more to it than Bart was willing to admit, but with Bart denying anything was wrong they felt unable to take any action. Bart’s demeanour and appearance had visibly changed but any attempts to offer support or help were promptly dismissed. Feeling unsure as to what they could do to help and address the situation, Comex contacted Daniel for advice. Daniel confirmed their suspicions that Bart’s behaviours and drastic change in appearance indicated that there was a possibility of a substance addiction being involved. Either that or Bart was suffering from a stress or depression related illness. Daniel offered Comex free advice on how not to enable the situation by turning a blind eye as this would delay Bart in getting help. He advised on boundaries and further signs of addiction that they could watch out for. Based on Daniels advice Comex continued to monitor Bart at work. Bart’s health and mental well-being seemed to be deteriorating further; he had become isolated at work and now was taking sporadic days off offering a variety of different ailments as the cause. Bart’s presence at work was now affecting the morale of the team as his attitude had changed from someone who was once very proactive and positive to someone who was reluctant and very negative. Once again Comex contacted Daniel for advice, it was at this point that Daniel suggested a Corporate Intervention and asked Comex if they were willing to fund treatment for Bart should it be necessary. Comex agreed that this seemed the only way forward as Bart had not actually done anything wrong in terms of his contract of employment and was not willing to admit that there was a problem. Daniel immediately proceeded to start planning for the Intervention. Part of Daniels planning involved conversations with several members of Comex staff, including Bart’s line manager and co-workers. It was during these conversations that one of Bart’s colleagues admitted that he suspected Bart had an addiction to painkillers as he had noted Bart taking pills at work. Bart’s colleagues were reassured that Bart was going to get professional help and agreed to be participants in the intervention. After hours of fact finding, evidencing and planning, a date for the intervention was agreed. Daniel carried out the intervention using a technique that ensured Bart did not feel threatened or scolded in anyway and that the Intervention was carried out in a supportive and caring environment. As the intervention unfolded it became clear that Bart was suffering from an addiction to opiate based pain killers but that he had been too fearful to admit it in case it resulted in him losing his job. With his employer’s reassurance that this was the last thing they wanted to happen, and Daniels support and encouragement, Bart gradually started to open up and reveal the extent of his addiction and his suffering. Bart admitted that he felt relieved that it was all out in the open and was stunned by his employers offer to pay for his treatment to overcome his addiction. Overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that he no longer had to keep up the façade he had been, Bart broke down and willingly accepted their offer of help.
The intervention was carried out 12 months ago and Bart engaged in rehab treatment for a total of 6 weeks before returning to work initially on a part time basis. Daniel still case manages Bart and maintains regular contact with Bart and with Comex HR department. Bart is doing well and is visibly much healthier and happier. He engaged in a staged return to work that was carefully monitored every step of the way and is now happily settled back into his full time role. Bart is reassured that if for any reason he is struggling, that he can approach his employers or Daniel for help and support. His employers are also meeting the costs of Bart’s aftercare sessions which Daniel arranged to be carried out by a local and qualified addictions counsellor. Comex know that if Bart continues to do well that they have his trust and loyalty as an employee. Comex value Bart’s work and his skills and are hopeful that they will be able to retain and support his employment for many years to come. Since Bart’s Intervention, Comex have enlisted Daniels services with a further 2 of their employees.
*names and identifying details have been changed to protect client and employer confidentiality*
This case is powerful example of how employers can be seen as proactive in their approach to helping employees with addiction related illnesses. Otherwise in a position of helplessness, Daniels intervention achieved a positive outcome for both the employee and the employer.