Opioids In The Workplace: Employers Need To Act

A new survey by The Hartford shows opioids are having a growing impact on the workplace, and urges employers to take action now.

The opioid epidemic is having a tangible and growing impact on employers of all sizes nationwide, and a majority of U.S. workers and human resources professionals feel they have limited knowledge and resources to address addiction, according to a new survey by The Hartford.

opioids in the workplace
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In the national survey of 2,000 U.S. workers and 500 human resources leaders, two-thirds of human resources professionals (67 percent) said their companies are impacted by opioid use today or will be in the future. In addition, 65 percent of them said opioid addiction is having a financial impact on their company today.

“Now is the time for the business community to join in a united effort advancing addiction prevention, treatment and recovery,” said The Hartford’s Chairman and CEO Christopher Swift. “All of us – companies, citizens and communities – must work together to overcome this crisis. At The Hartford, we are committed to providing consumers with educational resources, advocating for policy change, and reducing the number, dosage, and duration of opioid prescriptions in our workers’ compensation and disability businesses. It’s the right thing to do and a societal and business imperative.”

Addressing Opioids In The Workplace

Surveying employees from companies of all sizes across the U.S., The Hartford’s research showed an opportunity for employers to provide addiction education materials and consistent policies and procedures regarding drug misuse.

opioids in the workplace
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A large majority of employees (76 percent) and human resources professionals (64 percent) do not feel they are well-trained to help their colleagues addicted to opioids. Only 24 percent of human resources professionals and 18 percent of employees feel very/extremely confident that they could spot the signs of opioid addiction, and only 19 percent of human resources professionals and employees feel very/extremely knowledgeable about how to reduce the risk of opioid addiction.

In order to close the knowledge gap about opioids, break the stigma of addiction, and foster prevention, treatment, and recovery, The Hartford has partnered with nonprofit Shatterproof on an online educational program that covers the fundamentals of opioids and addiction and provides information and resources for family, friends, and colleagues of individuals dealing with addiction. Accessible via The Hartford’s website, the educational resource is available to any individual interested in learning about opioids and addiction.

“As a former hotel executive and businessman, I have seen firsthand the impact of addiction in the workplace. And with one in three U.S. families impacted by addiction, employers play a critical role in solving this crisis,” said Gary Mendell, Founder and CEO of Shatterproof. “We are grateful to The Hartford for their commitment to support employees struggling with substance use disorders by providing education and resources through the Shatterproof educational program. The efforts of the corporate community are vital to reduce the stigma that prevents so many from seeking the care they need. We look forward to working together to provide real, compassionate solutions for families struggling with the disease of addiction.”

The partnership with Shatterproof is The Hartford’s latest initiative to address the opioid crisis. Through a comprehensive opioid management strategy, the insurer has reduced the use of opioids among the injured workers it insures by 43 percent since 2015. The Hartford also encourages safe disposal of unused medications by providing its employees with free prescription disposal bags. Beginning January 1, 2019, it will supply prescription disposal bags to injured workers covered by its workers’ compensation and disability policies.