Whether your business is health care or education, drug screening can play an important part of a comprehensive background check program — and it’s especially important in fields like medical, human resources, safety and security. In fact, when you want to improve workforce quality and safety, reduce workers’ compensation and health care costs, increase productivity and more at your business, drug screening can often be a huge asset. With that in mind, does your company already utilize drug screening in its HR practices? Are you considering adding drug screening to your business processes but unsure where to start? Below, consider the step-by-step method for implementing an effective, efficient drug-screening system in your organization:
1. Choose a Reliable Testing Facility. According to Siemens, “Not all laboratories are set up to perform drugs-of-abuse testing in a way that will stand up to legal challenge.” To make sure you find a reputable, trustworthy lab, look for one with SAMHSA certification, special handling procedures for patient specimens, reliable results-reporting services and strong quality-control procedures in place.
2. Establish a Clear Written Policy. Drug testing starts with a clear, consistent policy. This contract between employer and employee is a way to outline all the specifics of being committed to a drug-free workplace, when and why testing may be performed, what happens when someone tests positive, etc. By placing everything in clear documentation, it prevents misunderstandings and protects the company. There are federal and state regulations in place that all government agencies already have to comply with and that private companies would be wise to follow. This is because, according to the United States Department of Labor, “while private employers are not required to follow these guidelines, doing so can help them stay on safe legal ground.” Getting the policy reviewed by a competent attorney is another good safety precaution.
3. Conduct Drug Testing for Job Applicants. The most obvious way to use drug testing is as a screening tool with potential hires. Make it a standard part of background checks in order to screen candidates who shouldn’t qualify to work at your facilities.
4. Conduct Drug Testing at Random for Employees. Another way to use drug testing is at random for your current employees. Random tests are a good way to deter your workers from using drugs and to push toward a consistent drug-free workplace. What’s more, they are fair to everyone because anyone can be tested at any time.
5. Customize the Type and Method of Drug Testing. With today’s drug-screening technology, there are many ways to test for drug use, from urine tests to saliva tests to hair samples. Because the different methods have different costs, requirements and accuracy levels, consider which makes the most sense for your company. Hair testing, for example, can show you up to 90 days of information about whether or not a person has used drugs, while urine tests will show just the last week. Customize which form of testing you use to the needs of your situation.
6. Document Everything Clearly. Both to protect your company and for better quality control, it’s vital to document every part of the drug testing process carefully. As U.S. Department of Transportation says in its Best Practices for DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Testing, “It is the best practice for an employer to document everything on the entire random testing process. This includes the numbers, names drawn, dates and times of notification, dates and times of collections, why a selected employee was not tested during a selection cycle, etc.” In fact, the article goes on to say, “If you’re not sure, document it!”
The bottom line with drug testing is that it’s too important a process to overlook in your business. As Pat Kelley writes at the Times Record, when job applicants find out you’re doing it, there’s a good chance the quality of your hiring pool will increase. What’s more, when you utilize drug testing in an ongoing way, you can improve staff quality and effectively ensure a drug-free workplace. Use the steps above to begin making the most of this opportunity at your company!
Christian Moore is the COO at Global Verification Network. He has more then 20 years of investigative and business experience designing efficient and effective drug screen processes for their clients.
Verifying the information on a potential employee’s application or resume helps prevent or limit the risk of making a bad hire. By talking to an individual’s personal and professional references, you have the opportunity to gather more information about the person and his/her work ethic. While you discuss the candidate with the provided references, clarify specific claims with carefully chosen questions that help you assess the information and verify the individual’s ability to handle the tasks ahead.
How Are You Related to the Candidate?
A candidate’s relationship to his/her references provides a specific perspective on the topic. For example, a previous employer or manager will have insight into the individual’s work ethic and the way that he/she responded to mistakes at work. On the other hand, a co-worker might help determine the individual’s ability to work on a team and the way that he/she interacted with peers.
The candidate’s relationship to his/her references also allows you to understand the individual’s point of view on other questions. It tells you where the individual observed the candidate so that you have a frame of reference for the person’s answers.
How Long Have You Known the Candidate?
A long-term relationship provides a greater amount of insight into the candidate’s work ethic, abilities and interests. It also verifies information on a resume or application, which helps determine if the candidate exaggerates.
What Are His/Her Weaknesses? What Are His/Her Strengths?
Candidates do not always recognize their greatest weaknesses or their greatest strengths. In some cases, a third party helps identify the strengths and weaknesses that a candidate overlooks in an interview.
A reference will also explain the way that weaknesses impact the candidate’s ability to handle certain tasks or the way that teammates helped balance weaknesses in the past. The question also recognizes the strengths of a candidate and the way that a strength improves a team’s dynamic, efficiency or ability to accomplish specific tasks.
Would You Trust the Candidate with Large Sums of Money, Children or Fragile Individuals?
Depending on the nature of the position, the specific concern you want to address will vary. For example, if the individual will work with older adults who might have physical or mental health concerns, then he/she needs a compassionate and patient personality. The same is true when working with young children. For companies that work with large sums of money, the concern focuses on the financial aspects and a trustworthy employee will select investments with risk management in mind.
How Does the Candidate Relate to Others?
Relationships within the office provide a preview of the way an individual works with clients. It also helps determine if the candidate has the skills to take on specific roles in a company.
While it is not necessary for a candidate to get along with every co-worker each day, you do not want an employee who constantly causes conflict at work. Ideally, a candidate will relate well with others and discuss conflicts in a calm and mature way.
How Did the Candidate React to Stressful Situations?
Stressful situations arise in any job or position. Upcoming deadlines, conflicts with peers, client dissatisfaction or even an upcoming performance review adds stress to an employee’s day. The way that a candidate handles stressful situations helps determine if an individual has the skills you need for a specific position.
Be wary of candidates who handle stress with anger, conflict or inappropriate behaviors. It is best to walk away from candidates who handle stress in negative or inappropriate ways.
Would You Hire the Candidate?
If the reference is a previous employer or manager, then asking whether the individual would hire the candidate for the same position helps sum up the entire conversation in a single question. It determines if the candidate has a strong work ethic, gets along well with peers, and has the ability to handle different tasks at work.
When the reference determines that he/she would not hire the candidate, ask for a reason. Do not assume that the reason stems from poor work ethic, since it may also stem from the individual’s decision to leave a place of employment at an inopportune moment.
Hiring a new employee always raises questions and concerns. Each candidate will have different strengths, weaknesses and skills that help a company grow and thrive. Fortunately, discussions with professional references help you identify the best candidate for a specific position.