Making the Case for Random Drug Testing

If you conduct pre-employment drug tests, you might think that's enough, but the problem with pre-hire drug screenings is they capture only one point in time.

If the applicant passes the drug test, how can you ensure this person remains clean three weeks, three months, or three years from now while working for you? After all, you want your employees to be drug-free as well, not just the applicants you're considering, right?

This is where random drug testing comes in. 

1. Random drug testing is necessary if your company endeavors to have a drug-free workplace.

Sure, any company can say it supports/desires/wants a drug-free workplace, but unless you're monitoring employees via random drug testing, you'll never have any sense if your company is achieving this goal. You need to put your money where your mouth is.

substance-abuse2[Source: Occupational Health & Safety]

2. Random drug testing can help deter drug abuse.

When it comes to pre-hire drug tests, applicants know the test is coming and can "plan" accordingly (or choose to drop out of contention). But the randomness of random drug testing means employees can't predict when their name will come up, so they can't "prepare" by abstaining.

As a result, some employees will decide the risk (i.e., potentially losing their job) isn't worth it and won't use illicit drugs. Note: we understand that the threat of random drug testing won't necessarily deter people dealing with addiction. But it could very well deter casual users, which would support the pursuit of a drug-free environment.

3. Random drug testing, when instituted properly, helps boost productivity and morale.

We've heard arguments that random drug testing lowers morale because of the so-called Big Brother effect. But we believe random drug testing—when part of a transparent alcohol and drug program that follows best practices —has a good chance of boosting morale (among other things).

Consider the following stats:

substance-abuse
[Sources: the National Safety Council and the United States Surgeon General]

So if an organization can reduce drug use among its employees thanks to a clear, transparent policy that includes random testing, it stands to reason that the organization will likely experience a boost in things like productivity and morale—not the opposite.

In fact, Occupational Health & Safety has this to say about workplace drug testing: "In addition to promoting a safer, more productive workplace, it can help to decrease employee turnover and absenteeism, reduce employer risk, and lower workers' compensation incidence rates."

4. Random drug testing could result in savings—and big wins.

Certain states offer discounts on workers' compensation premiums if the company conducts random drug testing. And if your organization is in the business of trying to land contracts with larger companies or government agencies, the fact your organization has instituted a drug-free workforce could give you a leg up, since more and more companies and government agencies will only choose suppliers and vendors who conduct random drug testing.

Want to start random drug testing in your organization?

Don't rush into it. You need to develop a clear, comprehensive, and compliant alcohol and drug policy, and this takes time and, ideally, outside expertise. You'll need guidance regarding your state's laws (or states' laws, if you operate in multiple states). You'll need to create a company policy that is robust and thorough enough that it covers all potential situations.

From there, you'll need to roll it out to your workforce in such a way that everyone knows what to expect. Remember, while "catching" employees abusing drugs has some benefit, the biggest success will come from a program that's well known among the entire employee base. If your program is an afterthought and most employees forget it even exists, then it won't achieve the deterrent effect that you want. The program needs to remain top of mind.

Working with a reputable third party like Good Egg is the best way to develop a clear, comprehensive, compliant, and effective program. Get in touch today and let's chat.

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Scott Mogensen

Posted by Scott Mogensen

Scott Mogensen manages the Drug and Alcohol testing program. He has 11 years of experience in drug and alcohol testing and is an expert in DOT drug & alcohol compliance issues. As a Certified Substance Abuse Program Administrator (C-SAPA), he holds the highest credentials available for a program administrator.

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