As employers ramp up hiring in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are once again being reminded that supporting employees affected by substance use disorders—including people in recovery, people seeking recovery, and their family members—is good for business.
That is the driving force behind the rapidly growing Recovery Friendly Workplace (RFW) movement. Some state governments have even recognized the importance of supporting recovery both generally and in the workplace specifically by creating formal RFW initiatives.
New Hampshire started the first RFW initiative in the country in 2018, and while there is no formal inventory of RFW programs around the country, 35 states have registered to be part of the national Recovery Friendly Workplace Community of Practice spearheaded by the Granite State.
Four Strong Pillars
An RFW is one that has adopted policies and practices to create a workplace environment and culture that supports employees in recovery from addiction and co-occurring disorders. More broadly, the workplace environment is conducive to mental health and wellness.
The foundation for an RFW workplace is built on four primary goals:
- Foster a safe and recovery friendly environment. Identify evidence-based practices to meet the individualized needs of employees, and their family members.
- Engage employees in addiction and behavioral health education and prevention. Provide workplaces with information and resources to promote health, well-being, and recovery.
- Retain healthy and productive employees. Workplaces that implement evidence-based health and safety programming retain a healthier, more productive, and more motivated workforce.
- Promote prevention and recovery in their local communities. By creating a recovery friendly environment, employers send a strong message to their communities that they understand the importance of a solution-focused approach by addressing addiction and behavioral health “head-on.”
Proven Bottom-Line Impact
Research conducted by the independent, nonpartisan research institution NORC at the University of Chicago and the National Safety Council (NSC) concluded that for each employee who recovers from substance use disorder, the company that employs them saves an average of over $8,500 in insurance premiums and related costs.
The study also found that employees in recovery miss fewer days than their colleagues. Compared to employees with an untreated substance use disorder, employees in recovery miss 13.7 fewer days each year, and compared to an average employee, they miss 3.6 fewer days per year.
With the right tools in place, the workplace can be a highly effective venue to support recovery. Research published by the American Psychiatric Association’s journal, Psychiatric Services, found that employer-initiated treatment was associated with better abstinence outcomes when compared to treatment that was not employer-initiated.
A Total Benefit
Sustaining recovery involves external and internal motivation. The workplace provides a compelling source of external motivation upon which internal motivation can be built.
In addition, workplaces can help normalize recovery conversations by letting employees know about a variety of community-based and other resources they can utilize when help is needed. This lets employees get connected to the support they need sooner rather than later.
Recovery Friendly Workplaces play a vital role in raising awareness, promoting wellness, and creating strong communities to benefit both employers and employees.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call the New England Recovery Center today at 1-877-MyRehab.