A new statewide survey illustrates a growing substance use disorder problem in Missouri workplaces, highlighting the need for a new focus on proactive policy and employer programs.
The survey reveals the broad impact that drugs — including prescription medications, alcohol and other narcotics — are having in workplaces across Missouri today. The survey was conducted by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with the University of Missouri Extension, Missouri Hospital Association, the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the Missouri Rural Health Association. These organizations have come together through the Recovery Friendly Workplaces (RFW) initiative. The RFW initiative is an effort to foster workplace culture that promotes employee safety, health and well-being through strategies that provide support for managers and employees, including reducing stigma and providing recovery resources related to the challenges surrounding substance use disorders.
According to the survey of 619 Missouri business owners and human resource professionals, more than 70 percent of Missouri employers surveyed say they are suffering consequences such as absenteeism, decreased productivity and accidents.
“While many of these issues are not unique to Missouri, this survey gives Missouri a new set of tools to take the lead in finding innovative ways to help employers address the growing impact of substance use disorder in the workplace,” said Marshall Stewart, vice chancellor for extension and engagement at the University of Missouri. “As we look to provide resources to employers to help them and their employees cope with substance use disorder, the data collected in this survey will be an important guide.”
Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed said their business has experienced absenteeism due to drugs and 19 percent have experienced accidents tied to substance use disorder. Nearly 40 percent of survey respondents cited decreased productivity due to substance use disorder.
The problem is especially acute in the manufacturing sector. More than 70 percent of manufacturers surveyed said that substance use disorder has caused absenteeism in their workplace, 48 percent have seen decreased productivity and 33 percent can tie accidents to substance use disorder. Health insurance costs have increased for 22 percent of the manufacturers surveyed.
“We know that employers across the Missouri are dealing with a workforce shortage. In fact, more than 90 percent of employers surveyed said they are having a difficult time recruiting,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Missouri employers see first-hand the impact of substance use disorder. It affects productivity, employee morale and the bottom line. But the toll on the employee is far greater. Each year, thousands of Missouri employees leave the workplace due to substance use disorder and too many of those Missourians never return.”
As the problem has grown, many employers today do not feel they have the resources to confront this problem on their own. The survey found that one in three employers do not have written policies covering substance use issues. Less than one in five employers have annual drug-free education for workers or training for supervisors. Less than two-thirds offer an employee assistance program.
Smaller employers struggle most. While 93 percent of Missouri businesses with more than 300 employers provide an employee assistance program, this drops to 59 percent among businesses with 25-99 employees and only 27 percent among those with fewer than 25 employees.
When asked to select the substance that is the greatest threat to the state’s workforce, prescription pain medications (26 percent) and alcohol (26 percent) were cited most often. In the Kansas City area, prescription pain medications were cited by 37 percent of interviewees.
A full copy of the survey is available upon request.
CHS & Associates performed the interviews for this survey, speaking with 619 Missouri businesses. The base questions for this survey were developed by the drug-free workplace training and consulting firm, Working Partners. The work was supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rural Opioids Technical Assistance Grants Program. (Grant Opportunity#: 1H79T1083259-01)
To learn more about the Recovery Friendly Workplace initiative, go to recoveryfriendlymo.com.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the largest business association in Missouri. Together with the Missouri Chamber Federation, the Missouri Chamber represents more than 75,000 employers. To learn more, go to www.mochamber.com, or follow us @MissouriChamber on Twitter.