Supervisory Intervention

Clinical diagnosis of an addiction problem is not the job of the supervisor. A key part of the supervisors job is to remain alert to changes in employee performance and to work with employees so that performance improves.

When and How to Intervene

When an employee's performance begins to deteriorate for whatever reason, the supervisor has the right and responsibility to intervene. The supervisor does not need to be an expert in addictions to intervene appropriately if suspected in an employee. The intervention should be focused on the performance problem.

Principles of Intervention

  • Maintain control of the conversation.
    Stick to the facts as they affect work performance. Don't rely on memory; have all supporting documents and records available. Do not discuss addictive use.
  • Be clear and firm.
    Explain company policy concerning performance. Explain company regarding substance abuse, gambling, etc. Explain consequences if performance expectations are not met.
  • Be supportive but avoid emotional involvement.
  • Offer help in resolving performance problems. Identify resources for help in addressing personal problems.

Impact of Addiction in the Workplace

  • Costs
    • Motor vehicle crashes
    • Increase in injuries -- heavy equipment, hazardous material
    • Falls
    • Explosions/fires; damage to equipment
    • Decreased production and poor quality work
    • Decreased cooperation with others/lack of teamwork/violence in the workplace
    • Employee theft: stealing to obtain money for drugs
  • Additional Company Costs
    • Wages or salary -- sick time/overtime for others
    • Increase in expenses due to Sickness & Accidents/Workers Compensation

Addiction related costs to corporations and businesses vary due to their size. A government study completed in 1990 indicated the following facts regarding the economic impact (in billions of dollars ) of Substance Abuse and Mental Health disorders within the general population of the United States:


In that same study alcohol abuse accounted for 10.5 billion dollars in healthcare costs with drug abuse accounting for 3.2 billion dollars. Twenty five to forty percent of patients admitted to hospitals were due to complications related to alcoholism.

The economic impact on the general population and in the workplace of pathological gambling, sexual addiction, food addiction, internet addiction and compulsive spending/shopping are unknown at this time.

Employee Assistance Programs

  1. EAP's deal with a multitude of problems and target any difficulty which employees may bring into the workplace which affects them and their job performance. A "win-win" situation is developed for employees and employers.
  2. The focus is not only on intervention and treatment, but also on on proactive prevention efforts. (e.g., inservices and health publications, new employee orientations, supervisory training for "probable cause" testing and supervisory "recommended" referrals.
  3. Keystone's Alcohol/Drug Policy - "Last Chance Agreements" Use the EAP and random drug testing. Motivated employees are offered the chance at rehabilitation.

Employees are required to:

  • Maintain active involvement with the EAP/assessment and follow recommendations
  • Submit to random drug screens for a period of three years
  • Probation for a period of three years. Failure to comply with General Plant Conduct Rules and Regulations may result in discharge without recourse to the Grievance and Arbitration procedure
  • In exchange for "Last Chance Agreement", the employee waives any right to grievance in this situation. *This document is signed by the employee, three company and three union officials
  • Employees will have chemical dependency treatment paid at 100% with successful completion of all aspects of treatment. If they leave treatment "Against Staff Advice", or fail to complete such treatment , coverage will default to the regular medical plan. The difference in deductibles and co-payments will be subtracted from the employees paychecks in 12 monthly payments, if already paid out. (This 100% coverage is also available to those not faced with "Last Chance Agreements" and dependents of employees. Minors must also have the employee or legal guardian sign the Keystone Contract.)

Assessing the Value of EAP Programs Primary Value

The primary value of an Employee Assistance Program is its ability to deliver early intervention and timely problem resolution to significantly reduce the range of operational and health care costs due to troubled employees.

Costs of Troubled Employees

The total costs to employers of troubled employees is calculated by adding the expenses related to the following items: Tardiness, Absenteeism, Reduced Performance, Co-Worker Conflicts, Supervisor Intervention, Training, Accidents, Damage, Errors, Grievances, Workers Compensation Claims, Health Care Claims, Legal Actions, Turnover, Hiring, Retraining.

The average cost of troubled employees has been estimated at $3300.00 per employee per year.

Cost of Employees Who Use EAP Services

$3.00 to $16.00 return for every $1.00 spent on an EAP. Using conservative estimates, the cost of a troubled employee who uses EAP services can be expected to be about $1100.00 per employee per year.

Employer Savings

Employers who establish and maintain an EAP program can save an average of $2200.00 per employee per year.

Based on information presented in this manual, companies need to become educated on identifying the signs of addictions and other problems in their employees and develop programs that assist employees and their families in the assessment and treatment of addiction.

If your company has questions about addiction or is interested in Supervisory Training, contact the Coleen Moore at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at 1-800-522-3784.