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Employers Can Help Employees With Substance Abuse During COVID-19

Staying isolated at home was difficult for many as it induced financial stress and loneliness. It was hard to know when it would come to an end.

Staying isolated at home was difficult for many as it induced financial stress and loneliness. It was hard to know when it would come to an end. As a result of Stay at Home orders, there was an increase in substance abuse across the country. To cope with their mental health, some people started taking more drugs. The line is blurred from when the need turned to want and people became habitual with their drug habits.

Poor mental health is a worrisome sign and it should not be taken lightly. Employers and employees are both affected by mental health in the workplace. Employers are more burdened because they have added stress of feeling responsible for the financial well-being of their employees. 

Read more: Choosing The Right Benefits Agency

A poll by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that 25% of Canadians aged 35 to 54, and 21% of Canadians aged 18 to 34 had increased their alcohol consumption because of social distancing. This is clear evidence of the consequences of the pandemic on people. As the stress level increases, people urge for having a drink to keep them functioning.

What can employers do in such a situation? It is true that every problem’s solution can only be found when one can find out the root of the problem. In this case, that root is ‘stress’. If the stress is taken off, the employees can be saved from getting substance abused. In this pandemic situation when everyone has a lot of personal issues to deal with, employers can promote flexibility in working, so that employees can happily contribute to the organization. 

For instance, employers can ask their employees to work in flexible hours and bring results to the organization rather than making them work all day long. Another method is through team building activities where employees feel that they are still connected with each other and with the company.

The most effective solution to this problem is by offering assistance through group benefit plans. The pandemic has encouraged re-imagining of how mental health benefits are viewed and delivered. Individualized care is important and the only way to do that is by leveraging the technology and tools available to health plan sponsors.

Read more: Identifying Benefits For Small Businesses

Other ways by which employers can help employees with substance abuse are:

Focus on employee behaviour rather than the cause of the behaviour: If there is some sort of problematic behaviour shown by an employee or if an employee’s performance has deteriorated, employers should focus on solving the issue rather than trying to ascertain whether the employee has a substantive abuse issue that is resulting in that behaviour.

Feedback discussion: Employers must communicate with their benefits providers about the types of additional support they can provide to their employees. Employee benefit plans can help address a wide range of problems, from substance abuse to stress or grief.

Employee engagement: Scheduling regular calls or virtual meetings within the team makes an organization stronger and their employees become more performing. This can bring attention to what exactly is bothering the employees and how they can get rid of their negative habits, one of them being substance abuse.

All in all, employees need attention and their mental health needs to be taken care of if we want good results for the company and for the economy. Employee benefit plans such as RRSP ( Registered Retirement Savings Plan) or DPSP (Deferred Profit Sharing Plan) are some examples of benefit plans and there are many others that can help to pull the employees out of this toxic well of substance abuse.

Read more: What to Consider Before Creating a Group RRSP

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