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DWD Offers Resources For Employers

As part of efforts to help Wisconsin employers connect with underutilized talent pools, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has expanded resources for employers to help employees working to overcome substance use disorder and attain job stability and security.

The goal of DWD is to provide tools, education, and connections that support employers in developing comprehensive strategies and resources to assist individuals impacted by opioid and other substance use disorder in the workplace. This goal aligns with DWD's mission to efficiently delivery effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs, and advocate for the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers, and job seekers.

In May 2020, the Wisconsin State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (SCAODA) released its Analysis and Recommendations for Addressing and Reducing Substance Misuse in the Wisconsin Workplace resulting from the efforts of the Employee-Workforce Substance Misuse Prevention Ad-hoc Committee. In collaboration with SCAODA, DWD is proud to support the efforts in reducing substance misuse in Wisconsin and building recovery ready workplaces.

Business Benefits of Becoming Recovery Ready*

About 15 million people with substance use disorder in the U.S. are employed. Employers can reduce the effects of substance use disorder by becoming a recovery ready workplace.

Nearly every business in America is affected by substance use disorder. Yet only 17% of employers nationwide feel well-prepared to deal with it. But putting in the work is well worth the effort.

  • Increased employee retention and fewer absences. When people with substance use disorder get treatment and recover, absenteeism decreases by 36% and work turnover decreases by 13%.
  • Healthier and safer work environment. A recovery ready workplace culture is focused on emotional and physical wellness and safety.
  • Greater productivity and loyalty among staff. People in recovery have fewer missed workdays than even people who have never had an substance use disorder.
  • Lower health care costs. Each dollar spent on substance use disorder treatment and early intervention saves $4 in healthcare costs and $7 in law enforcement and criminal justice costs.
  • Enhanced reputation as a supportive yet highly accountable organization. Nearly everyone knows someone impacted by addiction. Proactively addressing substance use and supporting recovery shows your community and your customers that you care.
  • Non-judgmental and non-punitive strategies for addressing addiction in the workplace. Policies and practices focused on prevention, intervention, and recovery for workers with substance use disorder are supportive, while holding employees responsible for engaging in recovery.

Wisconsin employers in all sectors are finding it difficult to fill jobs. This workforce gap is due to low birth rates, high retirement rates, and low, if not negative, net migration and immigration flows. Establishing a recovery ready workplace can be part of a broader strategy for employers to attract talent, retain employees and advance competitiveness through greater productivity.


Understanding Substance Use To Help Overcome Barriers to Employability

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that 75% of surveyed employers say their workplaces have been impacted by opioids, yet only half are very confident that they have the appropriate Human Resources policies and resources in place to handle opioid use and misuse. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. reports that substance misuse costs employers $81 billion annually. According to the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE), 70% of people who have a substance use disorder hold jobs, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports an estimated 10% to 12% of employees use alcohol or illegal drugs while at work.

The negative labor market and economic effects of the opioid crisis have been more severe in Wisconsin than they have been nationwide. The American Action Forum reported that between 1999 and 2015, the volume of prescription opioids per capita in Wisconsin rose 425%, or about 11% annually.

Encouragingly, NSC found 70% of employers want to help employees return to work after treatment.